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Oh ! the Horror! the Horror!
BaronBl00d20 February 2005
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.
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A terrific low budget paranoid thriller!
Infofreak16 January 2004
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.
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Unsettling in a very realistic way.
AngryChair10 January 2008
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 ****
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Mass hysteria at its most intense
Coventry22 January 2005
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.
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A very fine film by Romero
dh494 February 2000
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.
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The Cinema of George A. Romero.
Joseph P. Ulibas21 February 2005
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.
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Consistently Weak
aimless-469 November 2006
"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 Strain" (1971).

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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a movie in desperate need of MORE craziness
Jonny_Numb13 June 2003
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 Romero's resume.

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Better than a lot of other low budget horror for it's time, but NO zombies
macabro35725 February 2005
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

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Trixie, a German virus?!?
DJ Inferno20 July 2002
"The Crazies" is a pretty good low budget shocker and probably one of the best virus thrillers ever made! So forget Wolfgang Peterson´s worthless Hollywood borer "Outbreak" from 1997: Instead of a high budget and overpaid stars Romero put an apocalyptic atmosphere, lots of suspense and some social critics into his film. No choose what´s better... But there´s even more than that, because without "The Crazies" Romero´s mega classic "Dawn of the Dead" would not have been possible! Both films are connected with lots of parallels, DOTD is a consequent development from the basics this movie delivered! By the way, some scenes were shot in the same old farmhouse the director already filmed "Night of the living Dead" before..!
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Paranoia and Madness
Claudio Carvalho11 September 2010
In Evans City, a plane crashes on the hill releasing for six days in the water the bacteriological weapon Trixie that affects only human beings. The army under the command of Colonel Peckemseals (Lloyd Hollar) seals off the town to contain the virus and there is no antidote for the victims that are doomed to die or become incurably mad. The pregnant nurse Judy (Lane Carroll), her husband David (W.G. McMillan), their friend Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), their new acquaintance Artie (Richard Liberty) and his daughter Kathy (Lynn Lowry) tries to cross the border of the town, but the escapees are hunted by the army. Meanwhile, the scientist Dr. Ralston Watts (Richard France) researches blood samples trying to find the cure for the disease.

"The Crazies" is a tale of paranoia and madness in a period when the world was afraid of a bacteriological war. The plot is based on a total stupidity from the authorities that send the army to contain the virus in a small town but does not provide any explanation to the population, invading real estates and breaking in homes. The lead scientist is another stupid character. Surprisingly this year it was released a remake of this average film. Last time I saw this film was on 04 July 2000. My vote is six.

Title (Brazil): "O Exército do Extermínio" ("The Extermination Army")
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Nothing to get excited about, rather amateurish & boring.
Paul Andrews22 March 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The Crazies is set in a small Pennsylvanian town called Evans City. The film starts with with a man having killed his wife setting fire to his house for no apparent reason. Major Ryder (Harry Spillman) of the United States Army and his men have arrived in Evans City after a recent plane crash. The plane crashed into a river that supplies the town's water, on-board the plane was a man made virus called Trixie. The military believe that the residents of Evans City may be infected with a disease that turns the sufferer into a crazie, people who commit random acts of violence & are generally unpleasant to be around. Major Ryder takes over the local Doctors, Dr. Brookmyer (Will Disney), surgery and prepares his plan of action. His men form a perimeter around Evans City, no one gets in or out. His men are then ordered to round all the residents up and take them to the high school. Soon an even more high ranking officer Colonel Peckhem (Lloyd Hollar) arrives to take charge, as well as Dr. Watts (Richard France) who was part of the team who originally developed Trixie to try and find a cure for the disease. The military think they have the situation under control but five people have escaped their round-up, Dr. Bookmyer's nurse named Judy (Lane Carroll) & her fireman husband David (Will MacMillan) & his workmate Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), Artie (Richard Liberty) & his daughter Kathy Bolman (Lynn Lowry) & Frank Winson (Norman Chase) most of whom are convinced that they would be better off as far from Evans City as possible. Will they make it out & are they infected? Can Colonel Peckham keep the situation quiet, prevent the disease from spreading outside Evans City and resolve the crisis before unthinkably drastic action is taken?

Written & directed by George A. Romero I really disliked this poor excuse for a film. The script by Romero is about as dull and slow as you can imagine. The film itself is too long and just plain boring, although I did like the last 10 or 15 minutes & the downbeat ending. The Crazies also has a lot of similarities with Romero's infinitely superior Dawn of the Dead (1978), the female lead being pregnant, a fight against inhuman faceless enemies (all the soldiers wear gas masks), the lone survivors who question whether they should stay or leave & a degeneration into petty squabbling and in-fighting. All the characters are very unlikable too, both military and civilian. The fact that the acting is poor throughout doesn't help things either. The violence & gore is non-existent, there are some gunshot wounds, that's it. Overall the film is very rough on a technical level and becomes a real chore to watch. I had heard very good things about the Crazies, but I just can't see anything in it even remotely enjoyable. Maybe I was expecting too much but having Romero's name on the credits as director gave me high expectations that weren't met. Anyone familiar with Romero's other horror like Dawn of the Dead, Creepsow (1982), Martin (1977), Day of the Dead (1985) & expect something similar then prepare to be very disappointed. Proceed with caution.
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A dumb zombie film.
Fedor Petrovic (fedor8)20 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Or "The Stupids", but that would be the movie about the writer(s) of this film. This movie is an insult to the U.S. army and anyone who has ever served in it. I love it when those horror movie directors try to make "statements" and teach us about authority, the military, freedom and so on. (Not that other directors are much more intelligent.) Romero's utter contempt for the U.S. army is written all over this deluded, paranoid vision of the kind of events that arise in an emergency quarantine situation.

"I can't believe how shoddily this whole operation is being run!" shouts one army guy, and I tend to agree. I agree that a military operation can be run this badly only in the mind of an idiot who hasn't got a clue how the military really handles ANY kind of emergency. "The army is nobody's friend", says a civilian ex-soldier on the lam, and then proceeds to kill about a dozen soldiers, and the viewer is supposed to side with him. Even the town's police force try to rebel, threatening to use force even, and one cop gets shot accidentally as a result. The town's doctor is uncooperative, and the town's mayor is even worse - he's in hysterics over this whole operation. Does everyone in this town hate the army so much? Does Romero really think that there is/was so much hatred of the army in the public that people at all levels, from garbage man to mayor, would refuse to cooperate? And in a small town? Romero must be an idiot. He must have been reading too much hippie literature (if such an oxymoronic thing even exists) or he must be one of those left-wing morons who think that the U.S. government is always looking forward to an opportunity to nuke its own people. Romero would have us believe that top government people are just itching to finally nuke a couple of Americans into orbit.

There are MANY ultra-dumb actions and decisions which Romero's military undertakes. For example, the town's entire populace is being dragged out of their homes and gathered into a high school gymnasium. Excuse me, but if some of the inhabitants are infected, and others aren't, then wouldn't it make more sense to leave everyone at home so that the infected ones don't infect the rest? I mean, come on. NO ARMY IN THE WORLD can be this dumb. Except Romero's army, for they are imbeciles. And naturally, this Romero army gathers the townsfolk in a must unpleasant and unfriendly manner. You see, Romero's U.S. army hates civilians and will take any opportunity to make them suffer when they get the chance. Romero's U.S. army isn't even well-trained. They can barely handle civilians, some of whom have never held (semi)automatic rifles in their hands. The way they get bumped off by our duo of ex-berets is simply ridiculous. These two were playing Rambo before Rambo even existed. Just because they are ex-berets we are lead to believe that they are practically invincible. In fact, it's pathetic how Romero wants us to root for the main trio of outlaws, when in fact their actions were being irresponsible, selfish, and driven by panic. Romero would be surprised by this, but I was rooting for the military (even if it was Romero's military, no ordinary military of course) to bump off the trio of runaway idiots. One can almost sense how much Romero enjoyed having so many soldiers killed; more soldiers than civilians seem to get bumped off here.

There were other dumb things. For example, the genius-scientist who is sent to help with the crises: this guy said early on that an antidote for the virus is nowhere in sight and that the government had been looking for one in vain for three years already. But then, suddenly, a day or two later, this same guy makes a major breakthrough with finding the antidote! What a COINCIDENCE. And to make things even more absurd, he makes this breakthrough in a hastily assembled lab which lacks the necessary assistants and equipment that he normally has at his disposal (he complains about the microscope, for example). How idiotic! Actually, the film had potential. The action is good and the premise opens a lot of exciting possibilities for a horror/action film. Unfortunately, Romero's hatred for men in green uniforms has gotten in the way of making a sensible and credible martial-law virus movie. For an intelligent approach to this idea of a virus infection being contained by the government one should look no further than for "Andromeda Strain", even "Outbreak". For a childish, paranoid, and generally silly approach to this theme this film is ideal.
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Terrible Waste of Time
This low budget zombie-esque film is a complete waste of time, I rented it thinking that it would at least have some frightening moments but what I got instead was a test in patience. The details concern a toxic agent released by some dumb witted morons in the army in a small town and soon everyone gets the disease. The military, or what appears like extras in cheap army clothing, start to order martial law except a few hot headed guys break out. Each time the military is shown on the screen, Romero has some corny drum beating like we are too stupid to figure out that the army is there. Absolutely no suspense and an awful ending to boot....
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much better alternatives out there.
fibreoptic28 January 2004
I started to watch The Crazies thinking it would be a decent flick. After all, George A. Romero's 'Dead' movies have all been quite enjoyable and knowing before hand that this film was about a virus making people go nuts so i thought this wouldn't be a waste of my time. WRONG! This movie is so bad that it put me in a catatonic state for nearly an hour. All it is is a bunch of people going around killing army guys. The confusing thing is that there is hardly any difference between those infected and those not. Ten normal looking people running through a field with guns and a broom doesn't make this a scary or intriguing film but one that made me want to clean my bedroom. There is no thrills or that much detail. It's basically a cross between Outbreak and Rabid and i hate to associate these movies with The Crazies because they were pretty good. Also similar to 28 Days Later but that was a great movie too so how can a highly contagious virus movie suck? Why are there a group of sane people killing army guys? Why don't the infected act crazy instead of just slightly agitated? If you like bad bland movies with very poor structure then this is unmissable but if you don't then go watch the movies i've already mentioned! 2/10
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This is bad
drosse6711 February 2004
I can't get over some of the positive comments on the message board for this one. The most accurate comment I read was from the person who said "everyone has to start somewhere." But this movie came AFTER his low budget landmark "Night of the Living Dean," so maybe we should call this one a flub, plain and simple. The idea is good--and has been redone in later, slicker and slightly better films such as Outbreak, Warning Sign and Impulse (the Meg Tilly movie, not the Theresa Russell one). Actually "The Crazies" has more in common with an Ed Wood production--the hysterical, awful acting; the cardboard, dated characters (one character keeps using the word "MAN" before and after every sentence--he's a Vietnam vet, you see); horrible (and I mean HORRIBLE) sound effects (the spring peeper frogs actually drown out the dialogue in many scenes); over-the-top direction; and ketchup for blood (well, it was filmed in Pittsburgh--maybe Romero had a deal with Heinz). I wouldn't even watch this movie for laughs. I will repeat--this movie is bad.
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Please George, make this film again, and make it right...
crabapple866 October 2001
The film's story and plot is imaginative, however it over all is a poorly acted and scripted film. Romero deserves credit for his work, however he needs to stop and not be in so many places at once. Much like George Lucas, he needs to produce his work, and never direct it.

My biggest complaint is the grossly inaccurate military use in the story.
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Kind-of-a-'Night of the Living Dead' sequel and a bit-of-a "what if…?" in the Romero oeuvre
Roman James Hoffman23 June 2012
Simply put, George A. Romero is the godfather of zombie movies. His original 'Dead' trilogy (there went on to be three additional (read: optional) instalments beginning in 2005) 'Night of the Living Dead' (1968), 'Dawn of the Dead' (1978), and 'Day of the Dead' (1985) essentially created the modern zombie apocalypse template. 'The Crazies', while certainly coming from the same cocktail shaker as these movies with its mix of unthinking killers, rampant destruction, bloody violence, and a good dose of social commentary nonetheless cuts a slightly different stride to its illustrious predecessor or the subsequent carnage-ridden affairs that followed.

When the inhabitants of a small town in Western Pennsylvania are exposed to a virus through their local water supply and begin turning into homicidal maniacs the army duly turn up, call martial law, and quarantine the town. We soon learn that the army knows all-too-well the extent of the hazard they are facing as the virus, known as 'Trixie', was designed by the military as an experiment in germ warfare and was accidentally released into the town when an army aircraft crashed nearby. For the alert (read: pedantic) zombie-phile, this is enough to rule the movie out of deserving the "zombie" tag as the victims are not re-animated corpses but the very alive victims of a disease with no known cure. Nevertheless, the threat the infected / zombies pose means that the soldiers have been ordered to take no chances and, as panic escalates to fever-pitch, the soldiers fail to distinguish between psychotic symptoms of the disease and justified hysterical fear for one's (uninfected) life…which in turn unceremoniously erases the line separating the soldiers from the unthinking killers they are trying to contain.

As with the 'Dead' films, Romero's focus is on characters amidst the chaos and the film follows a small band of townspeople trying to escape the quarantine and the tangible threat of the military as well as the intangible threat of possible contagion from a disease they know nothing about. The cast are largely inexperienced and while the acting is competent, in parts it comes across as a bit wooden and crucially detracts somewhat from the potential pathos as the movie builds to its climax. However, for horror connoisseurs it's cool to spot Lynn Lowry, who plays Kathy, who would go on to be directed by David Cronenberg in his psycho-sexual parasite horror 'Shivers' two years later. In addition, Kathy's father in the film is played by Richard Liberty, who would go on to put in a memorable performance as Dr "Frankenstein" Logan in 'Day of the Dead' more than a decade later.

In addition to some patchy-but-passable acting, the film's real Achilles heel is that it's a high budget idea trapped within the constraints of a low budget, in contrast to 'Night of the Living Dead' which was a low budget idea and worked easily within such confines. As such, many of the locations and action sequences seem to struggle and the film is lucky that it can rest on some interesting ideas and the talent of its director. However, saying this, things do seem to come together towards the end and work up to a denouement with a fair amount of pathos…it's just tempting to suggest that if Romero had made the film later in his career with more money at his disposal the film would have carried a much harder punch than it does in actuality. For Romero fans its arguably a must-see, but for the less dedicated movie-goer the 2010 remake, or even better '28 Days Later' or (in my opinion, the superior) '28 Weeks Later' may be more rewarding.
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As a film it's crude, as an idea it has to be crude--raw desperation and fear
secondtake19 April 2011
The Crazies (1973)

A fairly creaky but still chilling movie, and a cult classic, with an original big-government bad-army premise that must have been frighteningly real at the time: a germ warfare mishap has infected a town and the army has moved in to quarantine the entire area. And kill or let die anyone not cooperating.

The powerlessness of the individual against an army determined to be heartless (out of necessity) is a theme that worked then as well as now. But if there is some sympathy for the individual doctors and army personnel, since they are doing what needs to be done to prevent further outbreak, you can only feel growing anger that this kind of situation could actually happen. If bio-weapons exist, it seems eventually one will be released by mistake, and then what? Will it be like the Japanese nuke plant after a tsunami, where evacuations and appropriations are "required" in the name of national security. And is the solution to bio warfare the dropping of an atomic bomb? Maybe.

That's at the core of this film. There is of course a couple at the center of the struggle to evade the authorities and survive. And infighting, questions of who to trust, how to figure out who is infected (going back to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," of course), and fear of infection itself pepper the film with drama and sometimes incredulity. There is also the hope of finding someone immune to the disease, which turns out to be slim, especially when the real cures get obscured by events.

All of this would work better with better acting. Director George Romero got away with some raw and imperfect acting in his very original "Night of the Living Dead" in 1968, but that was partly because everyone was either panicked or behaving like a zombie (there were, for sure, a couple great leads in that one). Here, though, most people are ordinary folk, and between their clunky acting and the even more clunky filming (in raw color), it just smells too much of a throw-together affair. Too bad, because the premise is terrific.

There are other movies that push this kind of idea, by the way, and push it better, the most famous probably being "The Andromeda Strain" from 1971. However, if this kind of rough-edged production doesn't bother you, I think you have a kind of low-brow high-brow classic, appealing to all kinds of sentiments.
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Fails as a Horror film and a social commentary.
callanvass6 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I'm gonna go out on a limb here, and say the remake did this better. It's not that I want a movie to be full of action, it's just it's full of nothing but boring dialog. The characters are selfish and the acting consists of an amateurish style, that wears out its welcome quickly. Romero has given us some dandies. "Dawn Of The Dead" "Night Of The Living Dead", hell even Day Of The Dead was good, but this doesn't rank among them. The gore level is pretty tame as well. The only blood that you'll see flow freely here, is some messy gun-shot type stuff, and it looks like red paint most of the time. I know this was directed to be an act as a social commentary of sorts, but it even fails in that regard. I didn't feel anything after this movie was over, in fact I was relieved I didn't have to watch any more of it. The most effective sequence in the movie, by far is the beginning. Chilling stuff.

The Performances are all amateurish, and not really worth going over.

Bottom line. I was going to say this is worth a look for curiosity's sake, but even that is pushing it. Stick to Romero's better works.

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Unrelenting Horror At Its Most Intensely Powerful
jlthornb5114 May 2015
Although this is a motion picture very much of its era, it is still one of the finest cautionary tales ever filmed regarding the threat of biological warfare and the terror of an unknown rampaging virus. Director George Romero uses his camera in a scalpel-like manner as he shocks the audience out of their senses and brings the unholy horror to life in graphic detail. This is truly a nearly brilliant movie that is bound to chill your very blood as the characters portrayed superbly by a gifted cast face one of human kind's most seminal fears: contagion spreading like wildfire. Not only one of the greatest horror films ever made and a Romero masterpiece, The Crazies retains its power even all these years after its original production. Unrelenting suspense, unforgettable imagery, and stunning fear. These are only a few of the elements that will assault you as you become engulfed by the breathtaking horror that is The Crazies.
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"Now, look, you just can't push us around this way!"
utgard1410 November 2014
A plane carrying a biological weapon crashes near a small Pennsylvania town. The weapon is a virus that drives people insane. The military quickly moves in and sets up martial law, preventing anyone from leaving the town. A group of people, including a nurse and her unibrowed boyfriend, try to escape the town before they're infected. But to do so they'll have to evade the military and the crazies.

George Romero's first really good movie after Night of the Living Dead is this engrossing low-budget thriller with some creepy moments and surprises. The actors are a mixture of semi-professionals and amateurs. I know Romero went for this approach to add some realism to the movie. Sometimes it works; sometimes it is pretty campy. A lot of these people can't act to save their lives. Most of the movie is people yelling at each other but there is quite a bit of action (of the uncoordinated variety). The '70s aesthetic and rural location shooting is a plus. Definitely worth a look. Also, 2010 remake wasn't half-bad.
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In reflection not as good as I once thought.
youngsteve13 August 2013
It is funny how you reminisce on things from the past, thinking how good they are, but then suddenly realise on reflection they are not as good as you once thought. This film is a good case in point. I saw the remake a copy of years back & although I liked it thought it was no where as good as the original was. How wrong I was.

Viewing it again I realise what a mess it really is, containing poor acting, where everyone seems to think they need to shout every few seconds. The action is still good, but the plot is all over the place, with nothing making much sense, though the gist of the story is actually good.

A good example of a film that has really dated badly
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Uriah4311 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Late at night a man goes crazy and kills his wife before setting his home on fire with both of his children still in the house. As the firetrucks race to the scene army troops are spotted entering the town. Soon the western Pennsylvanian town of Evans City is under quarantine as a highly contagious virus begins to cause the residents to exhibit strange and violent behavior. Meanwhile, the army is faced with chaos and confusion as they try to keep the virus from spreading outside of their control. Now, although I liked the premise of the movie, I must admit that I found most of it to be rather boring. The acting wasn't very good and the scenes didn't flow smoothly from one to the next. In essence, the fact that this was a low-budget production really resonates throughout. And while I typically like movies directed by George A. Romero, I have to say in all honesty that this was not one of his better works. Substandard in just about every way.
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tieman6410 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
"We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take this anymore!" - Howard Beale ("Network")

This is a review of George Romero's "The Crazies", a horror film released in 1973, and 2010's "The Crazies", a remake directed by Breck Eisner, son of media mogul Michael Eisner.

The better of the two, Romero's film sees the US military accidentally releasing a biological weapon into a small town's water supply. This bio-agent turns the town's population into raving, murderous lunatics. As a result, the US government swiftly quarantines the town. Much violence ensues.

Romero's film is shapeless, overlong, lacking in tension towards its final act and nowhere as good as his zombie movies. It's also frequently brilliant. It's a mad, hilariously anarchic, politically incorrect mob of a movie, filled with manic energy and many strange passages, some of which were deemed shocking back in the early 1970s. Kubrick's "Dr Strangelove" - Romero borrows Kubrick's all-percussion soundtrack – and Peter Watkins' "Punishment Park" seem to be the chief influences.

Like Romero's zombie movies, "The Crazies" simmers with post-Watergate distrust. Our heroes are government hating Vietnam vets, and much of the film observes as various social institutions (the state, the nuclear family, the church) fester, implode or explode. Significantly, Romero paints contemporary society as being "crazy" long before the bio-agent was released; it was already waiting to discharge. The contaminated water merely shatters civilization's last facades and brings various latent abominations and/or unspoken feelings rushing to the surface. It was always going to happen. Or, as Romero says in interviews, "what's crazy is that it hasn't already occurred."

Unsurprisingly, themes of incest and militarism abound. A father has sex with his daughter, priests set themselves on fire (echoing the famous self-immolation photographs of the Vietnam war, in which Buddhist monks set themselves alight), soldiers tear down villages like the Nazis' liquidated ghettos, helicopters echo Vietnam's Hueys, and much of the film paints military and government figureheads as being as mad and irrational as the infected townspeople. Pretty soon it becomes clear that the state's method of treating the madness is itself madness, Romero eradicating the line between infected and the uninfected; they're all crazy, the government mimicking the volatile, violent behavioural patterns of those contaminated. "You can't just push people around like this!" one man yells. But no one listens. Everyone's being pushed.

The film's pacing is slowed by various sequences which focus on annoying bureaucrats and fast-talking figureheads. Though grating, Romero's intentions with these scenes are nevertheless correct. State bureaucracy, in which men and women spend as much time fighting each other, red tape and the inefficiency of procedure, is itself virus-like and counter-intuitive; nothing gets done, everyone infected with a kind of bureaucratic madness. Elsewhere scenes show rural idylls and totems of conservative America torn apart by mad patriarchs (the film's opening sequence is "Night of the Living Dead" in microcosm). Hilariously, few people are even given a chance to succumb to the virus; the military kills them more efficiently and rapidly than the virus ever could. One of the film's jokes is that a perfectly functioning military apparatus is far more illogical, bloated and morally messed up than the collapsed, lawless hordes it battles.

Fittingly, the name of the film's bio-agent is Trixie, literally "the bringer of joy". On an allegorical level, it is the state's blunders, its inherent violence, which are directly inspiring an almost carnivalesque explosion of public mayhem. The military steps in to violently clamp down on these outbursts, but they're not fast enough. Oppositional groups clash, lock horns and slaughter one another in a mad, incoherent festival which does nothing but destroy any form of potential socio-political progress. An early 70s capitalist order is assaulted, but rather than enabling progressivism in the formation of a new social order, things are only further debilitated and any rational functions necessary for future formations are swiftly put down. The film ends with a pregnant woman dying (and with her the hope of a future), and two rugged men stepping out of the conflict's wreckage. One's an African American, airlifted above the carnage (symbolically outside and above it all), another's a fireman who embodies the adjusted (immunized) man of tomorrow: cynical and a Vietnam vet, but with a traditional love for marriage, servitude and stability (his first lines stress his love for "moderation"). The lyrics "Heaven Help Us" play over the film's closing credits.

There are countless parallels between "The Crazies" and Romero's earlier and later films. Two obscure ones: Richard France, who looks like a cross between Orson Welles and Francis Ford Coppola, plays "men of reason" in both "The Crazies" and "Dawn of the Dead". His character's always warning populaces (Richard's an Orson Welles scholar, his character having many overlaps with Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio-play). Then there's "The Crazies'" plot itself, which echoes Romero's earlier "Season of the Witch", in which the banalities of the bourgeois drive an oppressed housewife's to various subversions and perversions.

Released in 2010, Breck Eisner's "The Crazies" removes the politics of Romero's film but largely tells the same tale. It's a safe, clean and sanitised movie; like licking an Ipod while rubbing a credit card on your crotch. Glossy, overproduced, expensive looking and immaculately pressed, the film moves, looks and feels like plastic. While some of its horror moments elicit some thrills, it's mostly all very conventional and clichéd.

Still, some of Eisner's changes are interesting. While Romero has officials talking of dropping a nuke on the infected town, Eisner does it for real (encapsulating the film's philosophy: spectacle over politics). Elsewhere he spares the life of a government soldier (who helps our band of rebels), whilst the far more pessimistic Romero outright murders the very same character.

7.5/10 - See 2009's "Carriers", 2011's "Contagion" and 1978's "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Worth one viewing.
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