It was a shock to realize that The Quiet Earth is now old enough to be a classic like The Last Man on Earth. These two low budget science fiction movies have a number of points in common, though there are understandable differences as well. Spoiler warning – we spoil everything.


Similarities between The Quiet Earth and The Last Man on Earth


  • They’re both “last man on Earth” scenarios until the final minutes of the film. And, arguably, they both are to the end.
  • Vincent Price is the last human on Earth but not last intelligence, while Hobson may not be on Earth at all in the final scene.
  • The discovery of a young woman brings hope and delight until it doesn’t.

Vincent Price discovers a woman who he thinks is uninfected, then worries that she is infected. It turns out that she’s infected and intelligent, part of a new form of humanity. In the books, they live in terror of Vincent Price as the monster that kills people when they sleep at night. In this movie, she’s essentially as human but him barring minor symptoms. In I Am Legend with Will Smith, the love interest is totally human and the female infected is a separate creature… but still shows that the infected, transformed creatures are intelligent to a degree.

The Quiet Earth has a man who thinks he’s alone until he finds a woman, Joanne. He thinks he can fall in love. They later find another living man, Api, after discovering multiple dead bodies. That love triangle drives Dobson to despair. Whether he saves the new Adam and Eve on the empty Earth by killing himself, the evil in the world, or he simply escapes them through his suicide is intentionally ambiguous. He is, per some theories, also descended to a lower level of hell as a punishment for his misdeeds and suicides. Conversely, the new world is a purgatory that will only be hell for him until he leaves, hence his willingness to die to try to correct his mistakes.

  • They’re both based on books.

The Last Man on Earth was the first of at least three movies based on the book I Am Legend, and the author hated all of them. The Quiet Earth is based on a 1981 novel of the same name.

Differences between The Quiet Earth and The Last Man on Earth


  • In The Quiet Earth, the star may be responsible and tries to fix it. In The Last Man on Earth, he’s just trying to survive. I Am Legend goes further, trying to find a cure.
  • The Last Man on Earth suggests a large semi-human cohort that could rebuild humanity. The Quiet Earth suggests everyone but the protagonist is dead – and he may be, too.

I Am Legend is more hopeful, with a possible cure going to a human enclave. The non-theatrical ending where Will Smith goes with the woman and child to the human enclave is more hopeful, since he’s a human doctor with knowledge of the cure and carrying the tools to recreate it. Unfortunately, they went with the stupid ending of the woman and child hiding in the incinerator while Smith blows himself up as if in recompense for the infected he killed. The ending that they think is hopeful is idiotic – do you really think that the average group of survivors has the knowhow to extract a cure from a vial of blood and recreate it?

Ironically, the I Am Legend theatrical release where the researcher blows himself up is closer to The Quiet Earth ending where the creator dies trying to stop his experiment going even further awry. Whether the love interest he left behind survives on Earth or he alone exists in the reformed world is intentionally unclear.