On a list of projects that could have been is Ridley Scott's version of Richard Matheson's 1954 nove I Am Legend
. The apocalyptic tale was adapted for the big screen by Water for Elephants
director Francis Lawrence in 2007, with Will Smith as a lone virologist who battles to survive in decaying Manhattan while trying to evade — and at the same time cure — an infected group of predators known as "Darkseekers." Matheson considered them vampiric in nature, but some folks have pegged them as zombie beings — or simply "infected." They are formally known as "Hemocytes" in the film.
Scott almost saw his 1997 version of the story come to life, as evidenced in an effects concept trailer that Blastr
has uncovered. The Blade Runner
director hired Tom Woodruff Jr. and Alec Gillis to design makeup characters for I Am Legend
. The duo spent four months working up miniature maquettes, full-scale busts, and experimenting with silicone appliances (a material that was still relatively new in the FX world at the time) to conceive of the overall look for the creatures. The results are impressive, but in the end the studio wanted to take a digital approach and forgo the makeup-based looks.
Scott's project — which would have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead — sank due to budget issues and the shaky faith the studio had in Scott's more artistic concept. The director was riding out a down period in his career and appointed Gladiator screenwriter John Logan to craft a script that focused on psychological thrills (with no dialogue in the first hour). The studio wanted more action, the project was shelved, and all we have left is this clip to show for it. See if you think Scott's creatures read as proto-Engineers à la Prometheus, below.