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Imagine living in a small town where everything is safe and happy... until suddenly it isn't. Imagine your friends and neighbors going quickly and horrifically insane. In a terrifying tale of the "American Dream" gone horribly wrong, four friends find themselves trapped in their hometown in The Crazies, a reinvention of the George Romero classic directed by Breck Eisner from a screenplay by Ray Wright (Pulse, Case 39) and Scott Kosar (The Amityville Horror, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).David Dutten (Timothy Olyphant) is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house...after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, blood-thirsty killers, hiding in the darkness with guns and knives. Sheriff Dutten tries to make sense of what's happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Something is infecting the citizens of Ogden Marsh...with insanity.Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won't let anyone in or out - even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutten; his pregnant wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell); Becca (Danielle Panabaker), an assistant at the medical center; and Russell (Joe Anderson), Dutten's deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.
This 2010 remake of a somewhat obscure 1973 George Romero picture injects a mysterious virus into the water supply of a small Iowa town, and the consequences are… well, you didn't expect the consequences to be positive, did you? The movie is called The Crazies, after all. So when local folk begin acting a mite peculiar, it just means they've gone to the well too often--literally. Borrowing the structure of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the remake gets off to a clumsy start, but as the noninfected rally around the sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his doctor wife (Radha Mitchell), the action becomes streamlined and reasonably inventive. Director Breck Eisner has a particular knack for finding ingenious ways of killing people (a knife through the hand becomes a useful tool for the sheriff in one turn-the-tables moment), and he's been wise enough to hire respectable actors for the top-lined duties; along with Olyphant and Mitchell, there's also Joe Anderson (Across the Universe) as a loyal, amped-up deputy. If the movie misses the tart social-context stuff that Romero does so well, it at least fills the bill when it comes to the chase-and-escape business of a contemporary horror picture. The spate of such 21st-century remakes of 1970s horror pictures misses the raw, raggedy unease of those low-budget projects, but if you're going to make a slick new update, The Crazies is the way to do it. --Robert Horton
Stills from The Crazies (Click for larger image)
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- The Romero Template Featurette
- Paranormal Pandemics
- Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
- Rob Hall Makeup Featurette
- Audio Commentary
- Still Gallery
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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.
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