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VINE VOICEon March 4, 2010
THE CRAZIES is not a great film, nor will it likely even enter the "Hall Of Fame" of zombie-type movies. However, it is a tight, well-constructed and reasonably well-acted thriller that is more than worthy of a look.

In the small mid-western town of Ogden's Marsh, high school baseball season is just getting started. Everyone in town is there to size up the quality of this year's team...and frankly, life just couldn't get any finer. In less than 2 minutes, we get learn all we need to know about this little town...we see that it's a town where everyone knows everyone. Everyone has a place and is contented. Life is simple but satisfying. But when a glassy-eyed farmer with a shotgun wanders onto the field of play (actually, he has what might be described as a zombie-like stare), the sheriff (played at a perfect pitch by Timothy Olyphant) tried to talk him out of his weapon. Their brief, tense confrontation ends in the death of the farmer...and the town is rattled. Things quickly escalate as more and more citizens begin acting weird, violent and yes, CRAZY.

It isn't quite a zombie movie...no dead person is coming back to life. In fact, it's more a cousin to 28 DAYS LATER, where the zombies were really just people infected with rage. But whatever the case, we essentially see the very quick collapse of this little society...especially when the government quarantines them and begins to separate the sick from the well.

The movie takes a fairly predictable path from here...there's not really much we haven't seen before (although the film does feature the scariest journey through an automatic carwash that we've ever seen). But there is seldom much in the way of the truly new in this genre...it's all in the execution. If the film is constructed well enough, we don't pay quite so much attention to some of the plot holes (or if not holes, at least areas the stretch credibility, even if we accept the initial premise). THE CRAZIES is well-constructed, and uses its modest budget well. It doesn't attempt anything it can't pull off well, so there aren't lots of cheesy effects. It assembles a small core of characters, and makes us care about them just enough to draw our sympathy at their plight.

The central relationship is between sheriff Olyphant and his wife, the town doctor, played by Radha Mitchell. They are a couple that has clearly been together for awhile, and there are no big histrionics between them. They feel like a couple that has a natural ease between each other, and even when pushed to extremes, there's never any doubt that they're comfortable. This reflects the overall ease of the movie...it doesn't push too hard. Olyphant and Mitchell feel more like a married couple that is comfortably at ease with each other...not the typical movie couple who always have to find a way to tear each other's clothes off and fool around, even as the world collapses around them. I liked that...and it made me really root for them.

In many ways, the most interesting relationship is between Olyphant and his deputy, played by Joe Anderson (ACROSS THE UNIVERSE). Their interplay, the casual deference of the deputy for his boss, their unshakeable sense of duty all feel natural. These are good guys...but in quiet, unassuming ways. They just do what they feel is right, even if they're really scared. The movie is not showy about them...it's not like their Mel Gibson & Danny Glover in LETHAL WEAPON...they're just a couple of small town law enforcement officers who wear their badges not only with pride but with an instinctive understanding that they have RESPONSIBILITY as well.

The movie has scares aplenty, and lots of tense scenes. There's a great scene in the latter half when the couple is confronted by a couple of crazies in their own bedroom...we've got four people basically clawing and scratching at each other in a tiny room, and it's maddening to watch.

It's nice to see a good, honest little film that knows its business, but takes the time to get enough little details right to make it just a bit more than ordinary. If you're in the mood for a few jump-in-your-seat moments, you could do far, far worse than THE CRAZIES.
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VINE VOICEon March 1, 2010
I knew nothing about The Crazies going into the theater. I didn't know it was originally produced by the father of the zombie genre, George Romero. And I didn't expect to see a movie about a sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell) with my own wife six months pregnant. Please note: this review contains spoilers.

The movie starts out slowly. In these stressful times, we're all too familiar with scenes of sudden gun violence in an idyllic setting. After sheriff Dutton is forced to gun down a former town drunk on a little league field, the town of Ogden Marsh begins to unravel. Everybody knows everybody else in this small town and a murder leaves emotional aftershocks that traumatize its citizens. This includes Dutton's wife, who happens to be the town doctor.

The tension slowly notches up from there. These early moments are critical in establishing The Crazies as a superior horror film. The petty rivalries, the secret and not-so-secret grudges, the sadistic bullies - all of the townsfolk's deepest impulses are let loose through the TRIXIE virus, a military bioweapon that has accidentally (?) contaminated the town.

Unlike so many other horror movies, Dutton and his deputy Clank (Joe Anderson) are precisely the people who should be dealing with an outbreak. The problem is that they are little fish in a very big pond. The movie quickly morphs from a slasher flick to survival horror when the military gets called in, loses control, and pulls out.

What makes The Crazies so refreshing is that it plays on horror tropes, using it to narrative advantage. We find out that the soldiers who are executing townsfolk aren't faceless, that the TRIXIE virus may or may not be transmitted through the water supply, and that taking one's temperature isn't a guaranteed means of identifying who's infected. The Crazies makes no promises but always delivers.

This ambiguity may frustrate some people who expect everything to be wrapped in a neat bow, but director Breck Eisner knows that there is horror in uncertainty. It's precisely this lack of clarity that makes the movie so good - the villains aren't unilaterally evil, the victims aren't always helpless, and the solutions aren't always moral. The Crazies wallows in the gray area of harsh decisions, treating an outbreak with all the ethical gravity of a war.

Let there be no doubt, this is as much a war movie as it is a horror movie. The real crazies, Eisner seems to say, is anyone who would trust authority. These days, that may not be such bad advice.

P.S. Stay through the credits!
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on April 11, 2010
Gina from Haunted Flower reviews "The Crazies" directed by Breck Eisner and produced by George A. Romero based on his 1973 version. It stars Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, and Joe Anderson. A contagious mental illness takes over the inhabitants of a small town in Iowa.

[...]
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on August 29, 2010
Make no mistake-"The Crazies" is a horror film. You may have read that it's really a modern remake of an old 1973 George Romero horror film by the same name. I haven't seen Romero's original, but this film is very well-done.
The biggest name in this film is Timothy Olyphant in the lead role as sheriff of small town Ogden Marsh, Iowa (population 1260). The rest of the cast and the director, Breck Eisner, are not quite as well-known, but they all do a very competent job. The acting and the directing are so well-coordinated that you never have the feeling the film is trying to "showcase" a particular actor, nor that the actors are ever competing with each other for attention. That, along with the pace of this film, which to me seemed just perfect (transitioning very gradually from casual to almost frenetic as things fall more & more apart) really allows the viewer to suspend disbelief and immerse yourself in the story. And there is plenty of story. There's plenty of scares too, but this film never loses sight of telling a story, focusing on a small group of people trying desperately to escape this town alive. They have not only the "crazies" to contend with but also the military (in classic Romero style, the government is no more trustworthy than the disease). The violence is just sufficient to maintain a real sense of suspense, without over-the-top or gratuitous gore.
The film is almost entirely first-person viewpoint, and along with the characters we learn that something is terribly wrong, people are going berserk and senselessly attacking others; that it apparently came from the cargo on a military plane that crashed in the marsh which supplies the town water; that it might have become airborn; that the military is rounding up and quarantining everyone; and finally, that nobody is going to be allowed to get out...
There are also plenty of head-fakes in which you don't know whether something awful is about to happen or not, but these too are done in a reasonably sophisticated way, not overly calling attention to themselves but just keeping you constantly on-edge and not knowing just what's coming next.
The blu-ray looks great and the musical score is good, particularly at the ending credits. There are a moderate number of "bonus features"; three short (10 minute) featurettes being the most interesting to me. This was really filmed in Iowa, as well as in rural Georgia (enabling filming to avoid the cold Iowa winters and the hot Georgia summers). The whole story takes place over just a couple of days. I'm doubting there will be a sequel although the final sequence left open the possibility. This is a very nicely-done horror film with good characterization and a somewhat understated style. It should appeal not just to horror film devotees but to a somewhat wider audience.
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on May 23, 2016
Well, this was a very pleasant surprise to me. The title originally put me off but I said let me try this anyway. is it a zombie-ish movie, sure it is but let me make this distinction, the performances of Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson make this movie a cut above the rest. What is it about? Well, once again, the government gets it wrong and puts the small town of Ogden Marsh, (Iowa?) in jeopardy and wants them to stay that way and not let anyone out. A small group led by the Sheriff (Timothy) try to find a way to safety and help. there are tons of chills and thrills going on here and of course, a couple (you moron) moments too. this movie is well worth the viewing time and should be given its due.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 24, 2011
Today's horror filmmakers (or, rather, film re-makers) keep on lifting from past horror flicks. This time, the source is George Romero's dubious 1973 cult classic. Director Breck Eisner modernizes the story and tries to switch things up a bit by focusing more on the tiny pack of survivors, and less from the military's perspective. THE CRAZIES is a mean and vicious B-horror survival flick, and I do think it superior to the original.

There's always a more gothic feel when the venue veers away from the city and into the countryside, right? THE CRAZIES tells of an apocalypse in the Heartland, in the small midwestern town of Ogden Marsh, Iowa (population: 1,200 or thereabouts, but soon dropping at an alarming rate). The story opens with Johnny Cash somberly serenading you and me to "We'll Meet Again," and I couldn't help but note how ideal to horror cinema is Johnny Cash's ominous gravel voice. He establishes a disquieting mood, gets you all fretting.

This movie is a germophobe's pick of the week. A government plane, conveying an experimental bio-toxin, goes down in the woods and infects the water supply. The inhabitants of Ogden Marsh are soon succumbing to weird stupors and then behaving irrationally, and then murderously. Our point-of-view characters are Sheriff Dave Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) and his pregnant physician wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) and we track them in the course of 24 hours as they're caught in the middle of a harrowing outbreak.

This remake tones down the political allegory so rife in Romero's original version. But there's enough going on in the world currently that Breck Eisner does inject certain themes. The film taps into your deepest sense of paranoia, not of ghosts or zombies, but of more topical concerns - one's fear of disease and infection, one's suspicion of our neighbors, and disillisionment with the government. The military - its grunts gigged out in uniform gas masks - is so concerned with covering its tracks and containing the leaked toxin that it promptly quarantines the town and begins to herd and corral the locals. Except that these viruses are always crazy virulent, aren't they? Things quickly get out of hand. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Communications are cut off in Ogden Marsh, signals to all cell phones and to the Internet abruptly killed. And with the town isolated and mass psychosis at hand, society rapidly breaks down. Darwinism kicks in, anarchy descending like a swift mother. In an apocalypse, ain't that the way the cookie crumbles? Can the Sheriff guide his tiny band of gibbering townspeople out of the quarantined zone?

Oh, to be unhinged and creepy. THE CRAZIES accomplishes what it sets out to do. It serves up chills to ripple up and down your spine. That dish of bleakness comes as dessert. Director Breck Eisner demonstrates restraint. He underplays things and takes time to establish plot and character. He stages long moments in which he lets the nervous tension build up. And when the terrifying set-pieces finally come around, he unleashes his inner gorehound.

These demented infecteds aren't shambling zombies; they aren't zombies at all. To paraphrase someone from the DVD's extra features, these infected are actually bursting with too much life, the virus in them raring to manifest thru their skin. This results in the crazies sporting wicked blood blisters, taut veins, and popping tendons. Somewhere, a dermatologist is tossing and turning. But these make-up visuals prove really effective. The film gratifies the hard-core horror fan, gives the people what they want, to the tune of a series of bloody (and blood-curdling) sequences: a madman puncturing victims with a pitchfork in a medical triage, the Sheriff's encounter with a berserk doctor's bone saw, a pair of locos operating a truck stop service... But the most memorable scene features the Sheriff's nasty, grimace-inducing method of dispensing with one insane woman. This movie is enough to make me swear off water for life. Or at least give up tap water.

Kudos to Joe Anderson, by the way, for making the most out of his Deputy role. For my money, Joe Anderson ends up with the most interesting character arc in this film.

The DVD's bonus stuff:

- Audio Commentary with director Breck Eisner
- "Behind the Scenes with Breck Eisner" - pretty much the Making Of featurette (00:10:32 minutes long)
- "Paranormal Pandemics" - Director Breck Eisner and Make-Up Artist Rob Hall discuss the source material for the look of the crazies, referencing real life diseases and how they distort the appearance of the infected (00:09:38 minutes long)
- "The George A. Romero Template" - a featurette on Romero's films and their impact on pop culture (00:09:53 minutes)
- "Make-Up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action" as he applies make-up on the scary "Hunter" character (00:11:24)
- THE CRAZIES Motion Comic episodes #1 (00:14:37) & #2 (00:12:41) - mini-stories which supplement the film's core narrative
- "Visual Effects in Motion" - detailing the layers of CG effect that went into the truck & massive explosion sequence near the end of the film (00:03:40)
- 3 Trailers for THE CRAZIES and a trailer for THE CRAZIES MOTION COMIC
- Photo Gallery
- 2 DVD-ROM functions: In PDF format, the Screenplay and Storyboards: Building a Scene
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on October 25, 2014
I love good horror movies, but I despise cliches, and after 17 minutes in, I knew what this movie was.

1. The local sheriff is in charge of everything, and he was especially in charge of his California beach blond wife. The live in mid-west farmer America.
2. The blond screams at a burning house as if that in itself is the ultimate horror. The whole time she's doing this, she's climbing all over her husband. He puts a manly restraining arm around her in every scene so far, physically leading her around, as if she can't even walk upright without him.
3. Oh yeah. She's a doctor. So she's the boss of the town, after her boss, the sheriff. They are so in charge.
4. The first victim is a woman who is 20/30 something, but is supposed to be a 40 year-old's wife, so she has no makeup on.
5. There aren't any of the cliche sex scenes, so it does get points for that. I gave it an extra star because I didn't hate it. The end wasn't bad.
6. By the way, I know what really irritated me about the "in-charge" role. The people who like this kind of movie like it that the sheriff tried to "talk down" the zombie in the first scene with the gun, and that everyone in town was angry with the "sheriff boss" because he shot the zombie. The appeal is in the supposedly blameless violence. It's ok to bring a gun to a softball game and pretend to threaten people with it if you're drunk, see? Shooting him was supposedly "controversial", instead of... well... what happens when you point a gun at somebody in a threatening way. I can expect the other characters in the movie from here on out to rebel against everything the sheriff-boss says from here on out (and if it's female, to be screamy with terror, and in terror, do the exact opposite of whatever he says, and therefore get chopped). Blah. Make with the bloodletting. Fake sentiment in horror movies is what gives them a bad name, not the gore or violence.
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on June 29, 2016
The zombie/infected genre is like an iceberg: a few really good, well-known ones at the top, but underneath the surface an enormous amount of junk. This is about my 80th such film, so I have seen a few. I make allowances for small budgets, indie attempts, etc. You have to. There are some decent small-budget films out there, though even these are sometimes trashed by people who expect basic Hollywood production standards every time. But the great number of these films are pretty bad to awful. Something about the genre draws the worst of filmmakers and of course a few just out to make a quick buck with a popular subject. it may be the simplicity of the concept. You have zombies: pick slow or fast (usually infected) - add a few survivors, you've got a movie. Except usually you don't. To find one this good is against all odds.

For one thing the film was given a decent budget. It looks like a professional film. It has professional actors, camera work, editing, soundtrack, special effects and direction. As popular as the genre is, you'd think something as basic as giving it a decent budget would be a no-brainer, but this is where most of them fall down. The Crazies was budgeted with a healthy 20 million and made 40 million. See Hollywood? if you make something good people will come to see it; make junk and it's direct to DVD, streaming or YouTube.

This was a remake of the early 70's George Romero film that practically no one saw. He was too ahead of his time and couldn't get proper financing. The resulting film was undone by its low budget, amateur acting and cheap production. Nevertheless, romero invented the fast, infected "zombie" thirty years before 28 Days Later (1972 vs 2002), though it was 28 Days that really put it before the public and popularized it because lots of people actually saw it. This film is pretty true to many of the concepts of the first film and is not just a title rip off. (In fact, George A. Romero is listed as an Executive Producer, which means he didn't really do anything, but gets a cut of the money).

I'm going to mention a few plot points here, but these are shown very near the beginning of the film, so I don't consider them Spoilers> However if you don't want to know anything, do not read on. Like the original film, the infection is local and not a worldwide epidemic. It is likewise spread in the same way. The "Crazies" themselves are not the howling monsters of the 28 Days type. The infection comes on gradually, so at first there are no physical symptoms, but instead an increasing anger which makes anyone who seems on edge suspect, and in this situation that's about everybody. These infected retain a certain amount of their human characteristics. They have basic logic, they can work together in groups, use tools and weapons and even talk somewhat. As the disease increases they show physical symptoms and are more like rabid animals. All of that follows the original.

A pastoral vision of small town America, cornfields and Baseball in rural Iowa nicely begins the film. The action commences pretty quickly. Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell and Joe Anderson are the principal actors and all are convincing in their roles. This is an action film so there's no time for deep character development, but you do feel they know and care for each other. The minor characters are well acted, too. The plot is what you would expect - there's only so much you can do with the scenario - but things happen fast and there's one scare or tense scene after another and two truly memorable ones. There nicely is no big villain, just human incompetence behind it all. There are no lame attempts at humor or irony; it's all done for real. Once it gets going it sustains its pace.

i don't know how i missed this one for so long, but I'm glad I found it. If there were only more like this.
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on May 24, 2013
"The Crazies" has it all. Great writing, strong performances and beautiful cinematography combine to elevate the film out of its genre into something more -- an intelligent and eminently watchable what-if that seems chillingly plausible. Olyphant and the beautiful Mitchell center the film with level-headed and humane performances and Joe Anderson shines as the deputy who may or may not be infected.

"The Crazies" is in the front rank of films depicting mankind on the lip of an apocalypse but, unlike many others, this apocalypse could well happen. This may be the best remake I've ever seen, and it's a clear improvement on the original in my opinion.
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on August 8, 2015
Mysterious: check. Scary: check. Action-packed: check. This movie is the perfect combination of excitement and horror. It's a great end of the world epidemic type movie. I don't like giving away the plot of a movie, but if you're looking for something that keeps you on the edge of your seat with moments of fright here and there, this is the movie for you! This is one of my favorite horror movies.
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