Just rewatching the 1960s Vincent Price version of I Am Legend (The Last Man on Earth), and in the first minute or so we see him look at dead bodies and he narrates, "They feed off of weak ones."

I do not recall this from the book (which I have admittedly not read in years), and actually the line in the film surprises me, which shows how I have forgotten the film also. In Smith's I Am Legend he never says this, but it seems plausible that the Darkseekers would indeed eat each other, although we don't see it happening.

My question is simply whether the book has the idea of vampires preying on each other or not. And if it has the same line that Price used, is it possible that he was wrong? This is very unusual behavior for many vampire/zombie stories; the norm is that somehow the infected recognize each other and do not deliberately attack other infected.

  • 2
    What is your question, exactly?
    – Buzz
    Jan 21 at 1:52
  • @Buzz The way I read this, the question is "In the original 1954 novel I Am Legend, is it ever stated or implied that the vampires prey on one another?"
    – DavidW
    Jan 21 at 2:29
  • @DavidW: Yes, that is exactly it and the motivation is as mentioned how unusual this would be in the genre. I changed title and expanded question to hopefully make this clear.
    – releseabe
    Jan 21 at 2:34

The vampires in I Am Legend, at least the more bestial ones in the relatively early days after the pandemic, definitely do feed on one another. The fifth paragraph of chapter 2 lays this out.

And that was all. After that, they all went away weaker, he knew, than when they had come. Unless they had attacked one of their own. They did that often. There was no union among them. Their need was their only motivation.

It is not clear whether this behavior has completely died out among the more intelligent vampires (ones who were directly infected, rather than reanimated after death) by 1979, when the book ends. However, it seems as though it must at least be diminishing, since the vampires—some of them, at least—are becoming civilized again. (Since none of the film adaptations keep the book's ironic, "I am legend," ending, it is unclear whether this would be a meaningful issue in any of the films.)

I don't really have a clear idea how common it is, in the aggregate, for the monsters in zombie/vampire apocalypse stories and movies to refrain from attacking one another. I can certainly think of examples where the zombies are cannibals and others where they virtually ignore each other. In any case, however, since I Am Legend basically created the zombie apocalypse genre, it should not be surprising that it may defy many common genre conventions. (TV Tropes calls this an "unbuilt trope.")

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