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In the last several years we've seen more than a dozen movies about
people becoming infected by a virus who then turn on and kill those
around them. '28 Days Later' is one of the most popular and also one of
the best. Sure the concept was nothing new, but the film was made with
enough style and had such strong talent involved that it ended better
than just another by-the-numbers outbreak movie. It was a hit and
unsurprisingly was followed by a slew of clones, many of which are not
really worth your time. One of the earliest examples of this is the
1973 film 'The Crazies' by George Romero, which too spawned a few
imitations. Well now with all these popular titles getting remade
someone decided this film too was ready for the redux treatment, and
though it features little to nothing audiences haven't already seen,
it, like '28 Days Later,' is a film made with care and the result is a
great time at the movies.
Pros: Though the characters are pretty thin, the actors give strong performances and add some depth to their roles. A pretty good score that keeps one on edge. Perfectly paced, starting slow and then letting loose the rest of the time. Gorgeous photography and country scenery. Some good scary moments. Also some pretty suspenseful sequences. Faithful enough to the original to please fans, while standing on it's own enough that it's not a simple rehash. Some humor here and there to keep things from getting deadly serious.
Cons: If you've seen one virus outbreak movie you've seen them all. Pretty predictable. Doesn't really give us a chance to breath once the pace picks up. Plot wears thin after the characters and premise are established.
Final thoughts: Movie buffs complain that there aren't enough original movies being made in Hollywood, and they're right. And I'm not saying that we shouldn't keep pushing for that, but I don't think we should dismiss every film simply because of it's lack of originality. If it's made by people with a lot of talent who always work hard to try and make a good film then it could be worth seeing. This one here is one heck of a good time at the movies, better than most remakes really. Give it a whirl.
My rating: 4/5
It is clear that the current cycle of horror remakes is far from over
and the results so far have for the most part been surprisingly good.
This trend continues with 'The Crazies'- a reinvention of George
Romero's little-seen 1973 original. The plot is beyond simple: a
biological agent gets into the water supply of a small town in Iowa
called Ogden Marsh and turns the inhabitants into homicidal maniacs.
Things get even worse when a US Army unit initiates a brutal
containment operation where shooting first and not bothering to ask
questions is the order of the day.
The film wastes little time building up to the first outbreak of insanity and then chillingly portrays how the town's social fabric is obliterated at break-neck speed. There is an abundance of scary moments, inventive gore, and even some very black humor. Some moments are so intensely suspenseful that time seems to practically stand still. All the cast play their parts well; including Timothy Olyphant as the town sheriff, Joe Anderson as his deputy, and Radha Mitchell as the town doctor. The minimalist soundtrack is also strikingly effective. All in all, this film is a treat for horror fans and for anyone looking for an intense night out at the movies.
The Crazies, a remake of a seldom-seen 1972 George Romeo film, is about
a small town whose inhabitants drink tainted water and become deranged.
The movie is slick but still terrifying, relying not only on wacked-out
effects but also on unadulterated suspense to really rattle your
At a Little League game in Ogden Marsh, Iowa, a man wanders into the outfield carrying a shotgun. When the man raises the weapon, Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) shoots him dead. But the man wasn't drunk, he'd just gone crazy. Dutton investigates further, with the help of his deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), and discovers that a plane carrying a deadly cargo has crashed into a nearby creek, thus poisoning the town's drinking water.
From there, events quickly get out of hand, as anyone who'd drunk water from their taps becomes first listless and unresponsive, then mumbly, then completely unhinged. But that's only the beginning of the nightmare for the town, which is then surrounded by a military force bent on containing the virus by any means necessary.
This is only kind of a zombie film. I mean, no one's dining on the flesh of their living compatriots, there's no shambling, and mindless killing. (There's plenty of killing, but the afflicted people still have the capacity for reason.) One thing I liked about this was that precious time isn't spend trying to discover the reason for everyone's behavior; attention is focused on the survivors and how they react to what's going on. I also appreciated that at no time does anyone, even the sheriff, have this superhuman ability to know what must be done and how to do it. Dutton isn't a superhero, he's a sheriff.
Another thing that helps a lot is the pacing. Too often, things either move so quickly that you can't figure out what's being done to whom or too slowly so that the suspense angle becomes the boredom angle. This is crucial for a horror film, which basically trafficks in suspense. Director Breck Eisner keeps the action coming without holding up the story (e.g., no drawn-out standoffs when it would look implausible), and there are plenty of creeping-up-on-you moments to choke twelve cows.
Olyphant looks a lot like a younger Bill Paxton here, and he's a good fit - Sheriff Dutton is a solid leader, but he's not an improbable one. He's the kind of guy who rises to the occasion, not surpasses it completely. If you're looking for a movie where the hero is always armed to the teeth and subsequently never gets much more than a scratch on him, this isn't for you. Dutton has to constantly fight with his own instincts and change his attitude during the course of the movie (save everyone, save his wife, save a few people, save himself).
People who make horror movies know they're making them for a pretty select audience. Lots of people don't like horror movies at all, and those who do are somewhat picky about them (particularly with so many big-budget ones from which to choose), so standards are high. It's important to grab that core audience, show them something they haven't seen or haven't seen done particularly well, then smack them upside the head. Classic horror films used the horror of the unseen to great effect, and more-recent genre films try the same thing. (One reason for this is that we've become inured to in-your-face slasher films, because the anticipation of the slasher doing his slashing has largely been eroded. But that's a digression right there.
Basically, if zombie movies in general are your bag, you should love The Crazies. (If you don't like any horror films regardless, there's no way you should see this.) The Crazies is effectively scary, mixing human emotions with raw blood and gore and endless edge-of-your seat thrills.
George Romero's 1973 cult classic was a fun film. It focused a lot on
the government and the scientists trying to figure out the cure. It
also had some solid chaos in it. It was a very memorable low-budget
film and when a remake was announced, I was not pleased.
Boy do I love it when I am wrong sometimes! The Crazies remake was a fun film. It had the tension, the violence, subtle social commentary regarding how the politics in America work, and it was a fun thrill ride. What I loved most was the violence. The story was pretty faithful to the original and all it needed to do was up the violence. Great fun and it kept you guessing when things were going to turn bad. The tension was perfect. Easily one of the better horror remakes I have seen in the last few years. My only minor gripe with this film was the ending. I won't spoil it, but it felt a little lame to me. However, I liked the movie so much, I want a sequel! How crazy is that?!
Even outside the fact that The Crazies is actually a remake of a 1973
George A. Romero film, I have a feeling most audiences still have the
"infection" flicks of the past decade still fresh on their minds. Over
the past ten years, we've endured quite a few and several have even
packed quite a bit of wallop (28 Days Later, Planet Terror, etc.).
While I feel Breck Eisner's 2010 redux of The Crazies isn't anything
new in this regard, I still found myself entertained over the course of
the 100 minute runtime.
This may have something to do with the fact that I grew up in a small town in southern America not too unlike the isolated Iowa setting of the film and I can recognize the small town obsession and paranoia of larger political/governmental interests heaving themselves on the livelihood of small town folk and invading their way of living. That idea has been exaggerated in a worst-possible-scenario with The Crazies. The remoteness of the society works to the advantage of the film quite well. Perhaps even too well as some audience members may wonder where the rest of the world is when all of this is happening. The American media of all shapes and forms would have had a field day reporting over anything vaguely resembling this mess.
The direction is impressive with much attention to detail taken from behind the camera. It's especially comforting that the director didn't depend solely on violence. Eisner even cuts away from some of the more graphic "impact" moments, coincidentally making more of a psychological impact on the audience.
The film moves with brisk pace as our heroes struggle to survive the unthinkable. Eisner, like Romero, is astute at making Hazmat suits and the traditional gas mask into terrifying images. The very presence of such an image confronting you effectively sends a feeling of utter helplessness into the audienceas if you are caught in the middle of something far beyond your control. Our central characters seem vulnerable and "exposed" at every turn as a result while scary military men in full bio-garb follow close at their heels.
There are some issues that prevented me from loving the film, though. The script could have used a little work as plot holes were easily noticeable and characters were either very thinly developed or, at times, made ridiculous decisions. Like another recent "zombie" film, Zombieland, occasional over-the-top actions of some of the characters seemed out of place. There is very little, to no, character development in the film and most of the roles are simply caricatures we've seen in countless other movies. Thankfully Timothy Olyphant (whom has been on my radar since Deadwood), Radha Mitchell (who's becoming somewhat of a scream queen, isn't she?), and a surprising performance from Joe Anderson add credibility to such events.
Many twists and turns the film takes aren't very surprising, but The Crazies manages to keeps atmosphere flowing throughout most of the films scenes. While protagonists investigating barns and being captured by increasingly menacing foes becomes rather monotonous towards the films conclusion, the film just manages to get away while not overstaying it's welcome.
Eisner is apparently in the mood for more of this horror remake mayhem since he's already in discussions to potentially direct remakes of The Brood and Creature from the Black Lagoon. As for The Crazies, this venture does its original quite a bit more justice than many of the others we've received as of late. For a visually pleasing and entertaining horror movie, The Crazies neither drives audiences ballistic nor restores their sanity.
Related Recommendations: 28 Days/Weeks Later, Children of the Corn, rec, Quarantine, Planet Terror, Dawn of the Dead, Carriers, The Stand, The Crazies (1973)
A remake of the original movie made by George Romero in the 1970s, The
Crazies tells the story of what happens after a highly infectious
contagion finds its way into a rural water supply after a classified
plane crashes and turns the previously down to earth townsfolk into
violent rampaging killers the 'Crazies' of the title. First off it's
fair to say that the new version of The Crazies is a vastly superior
film to the original. The story is very well set up and generally
builds momentum at a nice pace. You don't feel like you're being
plunged blindly into the action.
Of course the story isn't exactly new. While it still remains a brilliant premise and was no doubt unique in the 70s when the original was made, nowadays we've seen this type of thing many times before. Movies such as Rec, its remake Quarantine, 28 Days Later, its sequel 28 Weeks Later and the Dawn of the Dead remake have saturated an already overcrowded market - with probably yet more to come. But while it's easy to say that the remake is just another in the aforementioned cycle of movies, it must also be pointed that when Romero did the original, he arguably invented a new genre just like he did when he made Night of the Living Dead: as well as 'the dead coming back to life' genre, Romero gave us 'the killer virus that turns normal people into insane killers' genre. The reality of the matter is by making those movies all those years ago, he was virtually inventing two types of story that would be mined again and again in later decades in everything from films and books to video games. If the aforementioned 28 Days Later is credited with the resurgence of the zombie flick, then it must also be acknowledged the debit it too owes Romero's original 'Crazies' film: this is no zombie flick. In both movies the victims are not the walking dead, but alive and kicking, albeit completely insane.
While the production value is much bigger than the 70s release, the acting in the remake beats the original hands down. This is a movie with something for everyone: for the gals, there's Timothy Olyphant while Radha Mitchell supplies the goods for the guys. Playing the town Sheriff, Olyphant makes for a solid, likable and charismatic lead. Based on what he does here, surely A-list status and multi million dollar action roles are within his grasp. Similarly, playing his wife, Radha Mitchell brings a lot of gravitas and humility to her role and creates a very likable character. It's one of those rare moments of credibility and good casting - where the chemistry between two principals is so strong, you actually believe they could be married in real life and because of this, you're rooting for them every step of the way while everything around them is going to hell.
There are two definite stand-out scenes in the movie: one set in a quarantine area with a group of people strapped to gurneys while a previously carefree towns person lumbers around wielding a pitch fork is chilling, while another, set in a car wash where every slap on the windscreen is to be feared, is relentlessly claustrophobic. These aren't just great scenes, its great film-making. The Crazies is a very well made film. Even the age-old and rather hackneyed 'no signal for the cell phone' problem, typical in movies such as this, is solved very neatly here. Rather than having it as a throwaway line of dialog, it's worked effectively into the plot. Plus in another key moment that can only be described as jaw dropping, we get an overhead shot of a crashed aircraft in a deep swamp. For a remake, it's fair to say this movie has its share of surprises.
Another major plus is rather than telling the story from the usual teen perspective, the movie defies protocol and focuses on the adults. A refreshing change from the usual teen canon fodder, this is a smart move and makes it more than just another 'teens on the run' flick. Also while we know the U.S. government is responsible for the crash and the subsequent outbreak, motives are still kept effectively obscure. No explanation is ever offered and the film is all the better for it. By keeping everything so murky adds an air of mystery and menace to the proceedings. One small criticism, though: the film opens with an unnecessary 'flash forward' to a blazing inferno of a town where we see flaming cars. Clearly this is the aftermath of whatever disaster is about to take place because then we see a 'Two Days Earlier' caption and the movie begins. This opening brief as it is - does absolutely nothing to help the film. If anything it slightly lessens away the impact of what happens later because we've already had that small foretaste.
However that's just a small complaint. Overall The Crazies is a well acted, entertaining and thrilling roller coaster ride of a movie. Everything moves along at a nice speed and the running time is not so long as to outstay its welcome. It delivers a good deal of jumps and scares, and is entertaining from start to the finish.
Having a horror film succeed on nearly every level is a rare
manifestation these days; The Crazies is beyond slick, excellently
acted, tense, is a remake that doesn't suck for once, and the to top it
all? This re-imagining joins the exclusive club of a remake that trumps
the original. (And thoroughly at that) No offence to the great George
A. Romero who created the minor 'classic' back in 1973, but that movie
was a poor effort in almost every capacity.
Director Breck Eisner's Crazies is moody and smart with a great sense of humour about it. It never delves into self-seriousness, not tries to be overtly political. It evokes a sort of mash-up of Dawn of the Dead and Outbreak. There are some unapologetically relentless sequences propped by unbearable tension and horror and others of pure adrenaline fuelled mayhem and action. The marriage of horror and action that worked so well in films like 28 Days/Weeks Later succeeds here as well and has enough of a personal moral stance to not seem like a cookie-cutter studio product.
In the quintessential hick town of Ogden Marsh, the small populous go about their normal hick activities; prepare for the spring plant, attend the popular town baseball games and for one young couple, prepare for the birth of their first child. David and Judy Dutton (played superbly by Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell) are the town sheriff and doctor respectively both of whom are well liked in the close-knit township. Suddenly, strange things begin to happen. Townsfolk begin acting odd, prone to violence and murder and bodies begin to pile up. Soon, the town is in disarray and thing go from bad to worse fast with the arrival of government forces who quickly cordon off the town and become more terrifying then the crazies themselves. With his deputy, the sheriff does everything in his power to get his budding family out of hell in time.
One of many things I admire about The Crazies is it doesn't pussyfoot around. There is no dull build-up in which all key characters are given an introduction. We are thrust into the action right off the start and get to know the characters as the panic ensues. Joe Anderson as the deputy gets the most interesting character arc; again I will make a comparison to 2004's Dawn of the Dead this time regarding the character of CJ which one could attribute a number of similarities, including a killer moustache. Radha Mitchell who is no stranger to horror films having starred in flicks such as Rogue, Silent Hill and Pitch Black among others is perfectly suited for the role of strong female protagonist. Olyphant who has ample charisma is also pitch perfect as the compassionate but driven Sheriff and I hope roles like this will get him the leading jobs he deserves.
The Crazies also benefits from having to real villain; it is more a movie of circumstances than black and white, good vs. evil. The shortcomings of this film are those found in many horror movies. We get jolts of sound that accompany boo! moments, but thankfully this is secondary to the impending sense of dread that makes up the movies core. The very final scene is one we have witnessed so many times before and the only thing that's comes to mind as I continue to see it is that the director does not have enough confidence in the films effectiveness. Small quibbles aside this is one of the best horror films of the last ten years and stands as proof that if care is taken all horror remakes don't have to make us crazy.
Read all my reviews at simonsaysmovies.blogspot.com
Although recently I have seen quite a few horror films, I am not very
familiar with the original horror classics made by George Romero. Most
of them are supposed to be thrilling and much better than the modern
day remakes, yet I did enjoy Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead (2004).
Originality is hard to develop in horror films because most audiences
have seen everything before in previous motion pictures. You can make a
blood-splattering zombie, vampire, or serial killer movie but chances
are another filmmaker has already created a film with a similar story,
bigger stars, and more gore. Yet every once in a while a director will
come up with a clever story in order to make up for the lack of
innovation in modern horror films. Last year's Paranormal Activity
(2009) is one of those exceptions and so is Breck Eisner's The Crazies
If our own government accidentally dropped a biological weapon on a small country town, would it take precautions to cover it up or would it admit the mistake and take necessary measures to help those infected? This is the situation in The Crazies, in which each family of a small town in Iowa begin developing violent symptoms and start losing their minds. One day at a high school baseball game a local farmer comes onto a baseball field with a double barrel shotgun. After failing to talk the crazed man out of dropping the gun, the local sheriff named David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is forced to shoot him. At first it is believed that the incident was a consequence of the farmer drinking too much but soon other citizens of the town begins acting in a familiar way. One man burns his house down while his wife and child are locked within. Another man appears to have lost the ability to speak. Confused about what is happening, David and his deputy go searching for possible leads to what could be causing the disturbing behavior of the locals. In their search they discover a crashed plane underneath the town's river and they soon see that it is no coincidence that those who live closest to the water supply are slowly developing symptoms of the strange disease. A few days after the first signs of the virus, military personnel suddenly appear and take everyone in town into custody. At the military base, David and his wife are separated because it is believed that she has been infected. The rest of the film follows David's journey to try and save his wife. Can he trust the government to do the right thing and take care of his wife or is he the only one who can save her? Although the Crazies themselves are entertaining, it is nothing viewers probably haven't seen before. They basically act exactly like zombies minus the biting. What separates this film from other horror films are the emotions shared by the main characters and the political questions brought up about how our government might handle the accidental insurgence of biological weapons on U.S. soil. Naturally every character begins to become paranoid over the fact that his or her friends and family may have become infected, yet how to you deal with knowing that your loved ones will soon become uncontrollably disturbed and may try to kill you. It is amazing, yet understandable how people's personalities can suddenly change at the first sign of any danger.
Overall, The Crazies has enough action and gore to satisfy horror movie fans, but is also clever enough to separate it from most other modern horror remakes. So far this has been the biggest surprise for me in 2010.
Firstly, I have to say this would make a great Double Feature with
Nathan Fillian's Slither. I think they would make a rockin' pair - that
or possibly Stephen King's The Mist.
At any rate, this is a fun film that offers all the action/suspense/horror that movies like this are supposed to do. And it does that pretty darn well. One of the strongest points are the filming itself. This film moved nicely between heavy and lighter scenes. Some of the shots are both memorable and downright amazing. The people behind the cameras knew what they were doing. The characters were a little light, but likable and played well by their actors. I felt suspense, which is rare for me these days.
A. The plot jumps a little too quickly
B. Would have liked to see more "crazy"
C. A couple scenes were a little cliché
D. Oh darn! It's a re-make.
This remake of the 1973 George Romero film sees the rural Iowa town of
Ogden Marsh become unhinged when it's residents begin exhibiting odd
behavior, usually culminating in acts of violence. Sheriff David Dutton
(Timothy Olyphant) is at a loss to explain what's happening to the
people he's known all his life, but the discovery of a dead pilot in a
marsh leads him to the answer, a downed plane infecting the town's
water supply. It isn't long before the military has blocked all methods
of communication and descended upon the town. Determined to render a
final solution, they don't intend to let anyone out alive.
Following the basic setup of the original, this update expands upon the story and throws in a few new directions and surprises. If you ask me, there was plenty of room for improvement. Romero's film is decent, but highly flawed. You could blame the budget, but Romero's done some fantastic work with low budgets. It definitely had bigger problems than that. This is the type of remake I wish there were more of, the type that can improve on a weak original. We spend the majority of the film with the four main characters as they attempt to escape the madness; David, his wife (Radha Mitchell), his deputy (Joe Anderson) and his wife's secretary (Danielle Pannabaker). I was already a fan of both Olyphant and the lovely Mitchell before viewing this, and they're once again in solid form here. This is basically Olyphant's show, and he owns the screen when he's on. I'd love to see him get more leading roles after this. Anderson and Pannabaker are also impressive, getting me to care about the fates of their characters, something that many horror films have a hard time doing. One of the major differences between this and the Romero original is the lack of focus on the military's point of view this time around. We spend the duration seeing the events from the perspective of the leads and various other townsfolk. While the POV shown in the '73 film did offer some levels of interest, I think it works better as far as menace goes to not do that here.
The crazies themselves are well rendered, each person reacting differently to the virus. Some are completely gone while others still retain some semblance of a thought process, the hunters for instance. After seeing the trailer, I was worried that they'd turn this into another zombie movie, but I was happy to see that wasn't the case. Speaking of the crazies, Lynn Lowry (of the original, Shivers, I Drink Your Blood, etc.) pops up very briefly as one of them. A nice little nod there, and I noticed another potential nod to a similar film, 1984's Impulse, in which contaminated milk leads people to act on their base impulses. A scene of Olyphant running after a mysterious vehicle that has been documenting the carnage mirrors a sequence from that picture. Also of note is Maxime Alexandre's gorgeous cinematography. Eisner was smart in getting him, as he's done equally stellar work for Alexandre Aja in the past. Thankfully, the use of CGI is minimal. In fact, I don't believe any pops up until the end, and when we get to that, it actually works just fine.
The film is peppered with a number of suitably tense set-pieces, particularly one involving a pitchfork, a scene in a car wash and the aforementioned ending. On the downside, there are a few cheap jump scares thrown in. The music also struck me as being rather pedestrian at times. Overall though, I can safely say I'll be returning to this one more often than the 1973 effort.
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