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|Index||91 reviews in total|
Very cheaply made film by Director George Romero about a virus, known as Trixie, that has somehow leaked out in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. The military quickly comes, assesses the situation, and then implements martial law. This is a very thought-provoking film and has some clever dialog and direction here and there. The biggest problems arise with Romero's virtually absent budget. We have a cast of amateurs, some moved on to star in other films particularly by Romero. Richard Liberty as Frankenstein in Day of the Dead being the most noteworthy. Despite not having any star power, the cast for the most part does a decent job notwithstanding. But the settings, although very "realistic," just don't create a real sense of fear for me or believability. I wonder what this film might have been with a budget double the size. If you can get past the minuscule budget, you will find an interesting film here. A film I think that has some real issues at hand even now. The things Romero does do well is create suspense based on the feelings of time being an enemy and make some scathing social commentary on the nature of war, science in war, and apocalyptic threads concerning the way rules are all thrown out when faced with doomsday.
Romero's zombie classics 'Night Of The Living Dead' and 'Dawn Of The Dead' are two of the best horror movies ever made, but they really cast a huge shadow over his career. Romero made two movies in between that are seriously overlooked, the fascinating character study of a vampire(?) 'Martin', and 'The Crazies', a paranoid thriller in a similar vein to the Dead movies. While not actually a zombie movie as such anyone who enjoys NOTLD or DOTD will find much to admire here. The budget is very low so the production values sometimes leave a bit to be desired and the acting is variable, but overall I think it's a terrific movie with some interesting echoes of both NOTLD and the Vietnam war. Will MacMillan (David) and Lane Carroll (Judy) aren't familiar to me, and neither is Lloyd Hollar who plays the Colonel in charge of the quarantine (he's very good), but cult fave Lynn Lowry ('Shivers') plays space case Kathy, her Dad (Richard Liberty) will be recognized by anybody who has seen 'Day Of The Dead', and David's 'Nam buddy Clank (Harold Wayne Jones) went on to appear in Romero's 'Knightriders'. And then there's the wonderful Richard France playing a similar character to the one he would memorably play in DOTD, an outraged scientist. 'The Crazies' pretty much flopped back in the 70s but looking at it now restored for DVD it's obviously one of Romero's best and a must for any horror buff. The commentary track by Romero and William 'Maniac' Lustig is also highly recommended as it offers lots of insights into the highs and lows of low budget film making.
Just in case some stubborn people are still questioning George A. Romero's talent after his 1968 milestone "Night of the Living Dead", we hereby present "The Crazies"! Once again a film stuffed with subtle criticism on society and pitch black humor. "The Crazies" immediately demands your full attention with a powerful pre-credits opening sequence and the high-excitement level is upheld throughout the entire movie. The little Pennsylvanian town of Evans City is overcome with a secret, but very lethal, government virus leaving the infected either dead or incurably insane. "Trixie" initially was developed as a chemical weapon, so not one of the scientists or army officers know how to put a stop to it when innocent people are exposed to it. The simple plot and cheap elaboration are excellently camouflaged by Romero's sharp eye for detail. Right from the start, he builds up a tense atmosphere of truly realistic mass hysteria that confuses even you the viewer in not knowing which characters are infected and which aren't. They could all simply be trigger-happy Pennsylvanian hillbillies for all we know! Although this film never really becomes "disturbing", there are quite a few scenes that shock and that feel strangely real. You could also state "The Crazies" was quite ahead of its time because chemical warfare is much more in the picture now than it was 30 years ago, when this film got shot. Romero's premise is simple but efficient: the malfunctioning and greed of the human race is much scarier than any fictional horror monster could ever be. Best example is the military men who become eerie and threatening in their icky white suits.
The people in a small town in PA are exposed to a virus in their
drinking water from the crash of a military plane. The virus is
experimental germ warfare crated by the arming that will either cause
its victims to die or go insane. Shortly after the start of the movie
the military invades the town and puts it onto quarantine. The job of
the military is to round up the townspeople and bring them into the
town school. Also, scientists are brought in to look for a cure for the
You can definitely tell Romero directed it because the movie tries to focus on the people more than the situation. Romero did a great job in building the viewers sympathy for the townspeople. You can also tell this movie was created during the turmoil of Vietnam because the soldiers are portrayed as somewhat of the enemy. I say somewhat the enemy because their main duty is to quarantine the town and keep the virus from being a nationwide epidemic. As the chaos gets worse more and more townspeople get shot as apposed to being detained.
Romero seems to always deliver big on the opening scene. In The Crazies he starts you out with a very chaotic situation. It does a great job setting the tone for the film.
What this movie does well is keep the chaos going. The movie is shot with very quick scenes and jumps back and forth a lot between military and townspeople. I also thought the ending was well done.
On the negative side the drumming gets a little bit annoying after a while. Each time they cut back to the high school you get military drumming. Also, some of the acting got a little too over the top.
Overall, this is a fine movie and a must see for Romero fans. It is not as good as his first three "Dead" movies, but it is still a very solid film.
Aside from Dawn of the Dead, I feel that this little seen film is one of Romero's strongest vehicles. Indeed the two films have a great deal in common in terms of pacing, style and overall visual impact. It throws the viewer into the middle of a story with little introduction, and continues at a breakneck pace right until it's bleak conclusion. The wonderful thing about Romero's works is that he manages to take situations that might just be distantly possible and make them an absolute chaotic reality. This film is a testament to that, and may even stand as one of his more realistic and plausible stories. Performances on the part of almost all of the actors are very good, particularly the main group of focus. There are some awkward moments with David, but Judy is very good, and proves herself particularly in her final scenes. Clank is interesting to watch, and does a very good job of descending into a dangerous and confused haze. Richard Liberty's Artie is a favorite, though, due largely to a scene where he tells why he never allowed his daughter to date. He is truly creepy. Those on the military side are also very good, particularly Major Rider and Colonel Peckam. I must admit that I do have a soft spot in my heart for Richard France as Dr. Watts. He rants and relentlessly chews the scenery in a grand performance, and adds a wonderful dash of color and even more insanity to this bleak film. Romero is always interesting in his use of characters, and this film is no exception. He is constantly pushing the envelope of audience expectations by having major characters die or succumb to the madness. Nothing is safe in a Romero movie. His use of the soldiers is wonderful in the frenzied and gritty military and chase scenes. This film as a whole is gritty, unnerving and a perfect stylistic precursor to Dawn of the Dead. One of the better scare pictures of the 70s.
Like Romero's "Day of the Dead," this is another marathon of carnage and
excess talk, filled with scattered themes (martial law, role of the
military, bureaucracy, disease, etc.). It's high-concept stuff, granted,
but the budget is low and the script is unfocused. Like the attorney
general's definition of "terrorism," the effects of the virus in "The
Crazies" is just as vague (abnormal behavior that varies from person to
person), but the unpredictability gets tedious after a while. The reason
David Cronenberg's similarly-themed "Shivers" worked so well is because the
parasites had a specific function (to replace a dead organ) and side-effect
(they transform people into sex maniacs), and were confined to one specific
location (an apartment complex). "The Crazies" is ambitious, but the
unengaging performances and heavy-handed symbolism (tattered American flags,
toy soldiers stepped on by real soldiers) renders it a mediocre oddity on
After the success of his classic Night of the Living Dead (1968),
horror master George Romero followed up with this low-budget thriller.
Airplane crashes outside of a small Pennsylvania town and unleashes a bio chemical substance that turns the locals into murderous psychotics. The government steps in, but only makes things worse... far worse.
George Romero's films have long been known for their violence, disturbing nature, and social commentary and this early film is no exception. The Crazies has exciting action wrapped all in a thought-provoking and unsettlingly believable story. There's plenty of moments of gore and a number of scenes that are quite horrific (burning preacher anyone?). Romero's direction is nicely done, providing tense atmosphere and using the rural locations of Pennyslvania well.
Cast-wise some of the performances of this film seem a bit forced, but the performers do manage to hold it together. Harold Wayne Jones, Will MacMillian, and Lloyd Hollar are the best stand-outs.
While The Crazies is often forgotten among the horror films of the 70's, it's a good film from a great director. A must for Romero fans.
*** out of ****
The Crazies (1973) was a film by horror film maker George A. Romero. A
military biological weapons is accidentally released in a small town.
Evans City, PA. is the unlucky recipient to a very deadly virus that
has fouled the nearby water supply. The virus is highly contagious and
it causes madness and insanity in it's victims. The government tries to
contain the after effects by imposing martial law around the town and
quarantining the citizens of Evans City, affected or not. A few of the
citizens rebel against the soldiers and try to flee the occupied zones.
Can this small party escape the wrath of the government and it's
soldier of fortunes or will they become victims of the bio-plague?
George A. Romero has once again created a unique movie utilizing a small budget and a large cast of mostly volunteers. The camera work and editing is what makes this movie work. The acting is not that bad and the writing is very inventive and creative. Many look upon this movie as a trial run for his more successful zombie sequel Dawn of the Dead, others have called this a mere reworking of Night of the Living Dead. I have to say that this is a very entertaining movie that works despite the boundaries of it's limited budget. A social commentary that still rings true today.
Highly recommended for George A. Romero fans.
A plane crashes near Pittsburgh carrying a bacteriological weapon
called "Trixie". It gets into a nearby town's water supply causing it's
citizen to go crazy, some of them homicidal maniacs. Some of the town's
residents try to escape through a cordon around the town set up by the
Army and shooting between the residents and soldiers (who go around
wearing white contamination suits) and blood spurts ensue. That pretty
much sums up the plot.
There's really no gore in this Romero film, but we do see plenty of gun battles that look cheap and amateurish. The only memorable character is Dr. Watts, played by Richard France, who's overacting is so bad that I actually liked his time on the screen. You can see he's trying real hard.
The Blue Underground anamorphic DVD looks nice and it contains a short interview with co-star Lynn Lowry who explains some of her experiences on the film as well as her failed film career. Also a decent commentary track by George Romero who wishes he could have done more with it if he had a bigger budget.
As long as one doesn't compare it to Romero's other films like the DEAD trilogy or MARTIN (1977), then it's better than most 70s low budget efforts in that cheap, charming way. I think it's worth a look.
6 out of 10
"The Crazies" (1973) was George Romero's attempt to get a little more
low-budget mileage out of his "Night of the Living Dead" (1971)
zombie-like stuff by blending it with elements from "The Andromeda
A germ warfare bug is accidentally released into the water supply of a small western Pennsylvania town named Evans City (where it was actually filmed). It turns some into placid zombie-like creatures and some into out-of-control maniacs. The Army comes in and imposes martial law and the local civilians do a good imitation of the zombies from "Night of the Living Dead".
The cast is a bunch of locals (western PA/NE Ohio) who fortunately for us all with low thresholds of pain did little acting after this project. Poor acting combines with poor editing to make it impossible to determine who among the citizens and the troops has the disease, is just stressed out, or is just trying to party hard. Romero's direction is extremely weak and he has trouble throughout keeping the cast in character.
Romero had discovered with "Night of the Living Dead" that there was serious exploitation potential in stories about the breakdown of society and this is where he really tries to focus his film. There is an underlying theme of social commentary as this was the time of serious social protests (Kent State just across the state line), distrust of the federal government, and our winding down involvement in Viet Nam. Romero was also drawing from his fascination with 1950's sci-fi themes regarding irresponsible science.
Unfortunately the best aspect of "Night of the Living Dead", its simplicity, is sacrificed as Romero has just enough resources to turn the film into an exercise in excess. There are several tangential plot points (voice recognition systems, a B-52 with a nuclear warhead, a frustrated scientist) that go nowhere but use up a lot of time getting there.
But these obvious problems are not the film's ultimate downfall. That comes from the film's lack of organization on the most fundamental level; which means it is extremely boring. No suspense is generated because there is no sense of progress or advancement of the storyline. Instead the same three basic scenes are repeated over and over until Romero is able to cobble together a feature length production. There are a handful of civilians trying to evade the Army troops, there are a handful of Army officers whining about how difficult their job is, and there are a handful of national security advisers back in Washington tossing around doom and gloom predictions. The film simply alternates between these three groups, with the segments completely interchangeable. The editor could have assembled them in any order and they would have not altered the flow of the story.
There are a couple of unexpectedly stylish scenes to watch for; the shooting of the flower child girl in the pasture, with a flock of sheep passing quietly in the foreground. And the infected woman with a broom sweeping the grass.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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