Its code name is 'Trixie,' an experimental government germ weapon that leaves its victims either dead or irreversibly insane. When the virus is accidentally unleashed in Evans City, Pennsylvania, the small community become... more »s a war zone of panicked military, desperate scientists and gentle neighbors turned homicidal maniacs. Now a small group of citizens has fled to the town's outskirts where they must hide from trigger-happy soldiers while battling their own depraved urges. But even if they can escape the madness of this plague, can they survive the unstoppable violence of THE CRAZIES?« less
"After coming out of nowhere with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD in 1968 Pittsburgh director George Romero made two flops that no one has ever heard of, THERE"S ALWAYS VANILLA and SEASON OF THE WITCH. Then in 1973 his financially strapped indie distributors begged him to make another "horror" film and for a paltry 270, 000 dollars he went to Evans City, PA and made THE CRAZIES. Its about an accidental bio-warfare spill that drives people crazy(you seeing where Danny Boyle got some inspiration for 28 Days Later?) and the Army's disastrous attempt at containment. Watching it today one is struck by its relentlessly downbeat tone and the power of the imagery; i was amazed at the hard-headedness; no one is spared unjustifiably to satisfy the demands of an audience--this is the 70's, remember--its got scenes that, in todays climate, seriously resonate: bio-suited soldiers taking over a small town, dragging screaming children from their beds, shooting escapees in the back; this has to be the most outright anti-militarist film from the early 70's besides PUNISHMENT PARK. This is heavy stuff, especially seen in the light of our current domestic situation,where police and military intrusions upon everyday life are becoming more and more "normal". You've got to hand it to George Romero, he doesn't pull any punches; At one point he has some civilians saying to our protagonists, " Let's wait for the army to help us!" to which one of the heroes, a vietnam veteran, replies, "The army ain't anyone's friend, we know--we were in it!" For a film that originally came out in 1973 that line is not only prescient but brave;THE CRAZIES is unsparing in its depiction of the lunacy of the armed forces--even the soldiers themselves recognize it--in this way the film is similar in spirit to CATCH 22 and its chilling to think about how the entire concept was considered pretty far-fetched upon its first release--even though it was inspired by true events in Utah in which a cannister of nerve gas fell from an army truck and killed a bunch of cattle (also the subject of George C Scotts directorial debut, RAGE 1972. ) and to then realize how familiar, dare i say COMFORTABLE we are with these kinds of concepts today after the cult attacks in the tokyo subways in the 90's and all our current preoccupations with bio-warfare,dirty bombs and Homeland Security. This is an excellent edition of this long unavailable film; It looks the best it probably ever has since it was first barely released in theatres back in '73. The commentary by George Romero is hilarious and very entertaining as well as very informative. There is a big-budget remake scheduled for 2006 and I, for one, can't wait. If its anything like the fantastic 2004 remake of Romero's Dawn of the Dead, it will be awesome!THE CRAZIES remains one of the most potent indictments against out of control militarism that has ever been made in America and its also a gripping adventure story, told with style and ingenuity."
Excellent, underrated horror film.
HeavyGuitarSunn | 10/11/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Considerably smarter than many of the horror movies of the time, "The Crazies" ranks with "Night of the Living Dead" as Romero's bleakest film. This is an occasionally funny movie -- though only rarely -- but the conclusion is apocalyptic. The whole she-bang has shades of "Strangelove" written all over it. This movie will probably make you sigh in sadness before it will make you scared, but it will most assuredly make you think."
A good addition to a complete Romero collection
Echo | Western Hemisphere | 08/16/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"What a shame that we don't have more of a culture of independent filmmaking in this country. "The Crazies" is not "Citizen Kane", but Romero completists will appreciate this fine presentation. You won't find the script and production values of "The Andromeda Strain", but if you enjoy out-of-control virus thrillers, then this film is a good choice. It's an odd bridge between the bleak horror of "Night of the Living Dead" and the apocalyptic farce of "Dawn of the Dead".
As expected, many classic Romero themes begin to formulate in this early film. The replacement of one society by another, with the "new" society simply expressing exaggerated characteristics of the "old". We see a bureaucratized, inefficient government that ends of doing far more harm than good. And of course we see the usual two-dimensional negative depiction of military characters. (This has always been a weakness in Romero's word - we know the government is bad, why underscore that point with a bad cliche).
Like almost all of his work, Romero filmed this in the Pittsburgh area largely with local talent. The acting is hit-and-miss...but Romero takes some interesting risks, especially in light of its age. In terms of directing, writing, and cinematography, Romero accomplished a great deal with very limited resources. There are some images you won't forget...an insane grandmother killing a soldier with knitting needles is more disturbing than it sounds, for example.
I run hot and cold towards Romero's films. He's had some excellent success, and some profound failures - but in general, there should be more filmakers like him. I'd much rather see something as risk-taking as "The Crazies" than normal Hollywood fare. The extras on this DVD are first-rate. We're treated to a director's commentary, an interview with a period actress, trailers, and some clips from other period works."
Spectacular and Original
T. W. Cramer | Pennsylvania | 06/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Crazies is a little gem of a movie that somehow slipped out of the public image. Why...I have no idea! This is among the most disturbing and original horror film. There's plenty of plot discription here. You should know there isn't a whole lot of action in this movie. Its slow paced but intense. Very intense dialouge, edits, and of course there are moment of immense tension (if you allow yourself to focus). It's really just a fantastic little movie."
Things Fall Apart
General Zombie | the West | 02/02/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"George Romero's non-'Dead' films are, as a whole, under appreciated, but probably none of them is in more dire need of greater recognition than 'The Crazies'. It's not a perfect film, by any means, but it's well done, considering the budgetary restraints, and ranks as perhaps his bleakest and most ambitious film, and is an interesting bridge between his inital masterpiece `Night of the Living Dead' and the later ones `Martin' and `Dawn of the Dead'. (The equally obscure `Season of the Witch' is also found in this era. It's a heavily flawed film, but better than you might think.)
The film involves the unintended contamination of Evans City with an experimental bio-weapon named Trixie. Needless to say, the virus causes the victims to go insane, though this can mean a lot of things ranging from homicidal rage to suicide to sheer goofiness. The military is called in to keep things contained, but the situation is clearly out of hand. 'The Crazies' is particularly ambitious because it shows the tragedy from a variety of angles: We primarily identify with a lone group of towns people who just wanna get the hell out of there, but we also get to know the central military command of the operation, the leadership on the ground, the scientists who both created the virus and are trying to now find a sort of cure, all while seeing plenty of conflict between the ill-informed soldiers and the other towns people, both crazy and normal. The film is particularly interesting in that it has no real villains. The military people are not overwhelmingly scrupulous in their conduct, but they are rarely truly malevolent either. (And the head of the operation proves to be one of the most likable characters in the film.) Furthermore, though they largely botch the operation, they aren't really portrayed as especially incompetent either. It's just a bad, bad situation, and a lotta people are gonna end up dead no matter how you go about it. (This, in the end, actually makes the film more bleak, as it seems likely that things would've gone very badly no matter what anyone did.) Conversely, though we more naturally identify with the civilians, they are partially to blame for the extreme difficulty of the situation as they are so utterly defensive and untrusting. Thru all this a major theme from `Night of the Living Dead' recurs: lack of and inability to communicate, which leads to virtual war between the military and the remaining civilians.
This movie was really made on the cheap, but it's sufficiently competent from a technical standpoint. The acting isn't fantastic, but as far as the low-budget 70's horror goes, it ain't bad. It's also ahead of its time, with lots of frantic, rapid fire editing, though it never becomes irritating and incoherent, as modern films so often do. The film has quite a few action scenes, and they're often pretty primitive but effective in their way. These scenes are more about violence and destruction rather than excitement, so they don't really need to work in the way that these kind of scenes traditionally do. As is typical of early Romero, he pulls no punches and defies traditional rules of what you can and can't do in a movie. (To wit: In the opening scene of the film a little girl pulls down the sheets on a bed to discover the blood stained corpse of her mother, and it's all downhill from their, culminating in some really rather inappropriate behavior between father and daughter in a scene late in the film.) This sorta thing works especially well because it never feels self-conscious. Romero doesn't seem to be aware of what would or would not be considered appropriate, nor does he seem to be being actively transgressive. He's just showing it the way it happened. (Compare this to `Outbreak' which some accuse of being a knockoff. Notice all the lame Hollywood crap in that movie and the hilariously EVIL government dude. I dunno whether or not that movie ripped `The Crazies' off, but I do know that it totally sucked. By the way, they are currently planning on remaking `The Crazies'. Many people are opposed to this, but I'm glad. First of all, it'll allow this movie to get greater exposure, as it is really quite obscure right now, and it's apparently gonna be directed by the obviously talented Brad Anderson, so it has a good chance of turning out well, provided that they are reasonably faithful to the tone and themes of the original. Which, of course, they may not.)
The film has an odd soundtrack, largely marching snare drums and `When Johnny Comes Marching Home', no doubt inspired by `Dr. Strangelove'. While thematically appropriate, the music does get a little tiresome after a while. Still, not to big of a deal.
The Blue Underground DVD is pretty nice. The transfer looks a lot better than you'll usually get for a film of this sort, and the commentary track was rather entertaining and interesting, as it typically is from Romero films. Anyway, I like this movie. Check it out.