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The Crazies

USA 1973
produced by
A.C. Croft for Pittsburgh Films
directed by George A. Romero
starring Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty, Richard France, Harry Spillman, Will Disney, Edith Bell, Bill Thunhurst, Leland Starnes, A.C. McDonald, Robert J.McCully, Robert Karlowsky, Ned Schidtke, Tony Scott, Roy Cheverie, Jack Zaharia, Stephen Liska, David Meek, Roger Aaron Brown, Kim Smith, S. William Hinzman, Richard Lewicki, William C. Kennedy, MaLynda Parker, Walton Cook, Peg Tilbrook, Vincent D.Survinski, Norman Chase, Ross Harris
written by Paul McCollough, George A. Romero, music by Bruce Roberts, special effects by Tony Pantanella, Regis Survinski

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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The army has screwed up and lost newly developed virus Trixie that turns humans either into murderous fighting machines or complete morons in the water supplies of a small village, and while Colonel Peckem (Lloyd Hollar) tries everything to contain the virus in the village using military-methods, and Trixie-expert Doctor Watts (Richard France) tries to develop an antivirus with the poor equipment on hand, the villagers turn more and more aggressive, either because they have already caught Trixie or because they distrust the army.

Pregnant nurse Judy (Lane Carroll), her boyfriend David (Will MacMillan) and their best friend Clank (Harold Wayne Jones) decide it would be best for them to escape the village altogether and somehow make it through the army blockades. They also have a couple of strangers with them, but they soon catch Trixie themselves and are killed, as does Clank, who turns increasingly violent, but controls himself just well enough to direct his violent outbursts against the army pursuing them, dying a hero. Ultimately, David has to realize that even Judy has been infected, and she slowly turns into a halfwit, but he just can't give her and their unborn up - until she is shot not by the pursuing army but by villagers who have turned into violent beasts by the virus. David though is immune, it seems, but after Judy's death, there is no more fight left in him and he lets himself be arrested by the army.

Back at the army's provisional headquarters in the local highschool, Watts finally reaches a breakthrough, but in the confusion that's going on there, he gets mixed up with the infected and ultimately dies in an accident trying to escape. David is brought in, and he's the one immune guy needed to create an antivirus after Watts' death, but Peckem has orders by then to abandon the village and make his escape - because spin doctors back in Washington have long decided to blow the village to Kingdom Come ...

 

The Crazies revisits some aspects of Romero's debut and masterpiece Night of the Living Dead, but puts them on a larger scale, so instead of treating us to just a handful of people trying to stay alive (these are still in the film), Romero also creates a background story and chronicles the army operations and mess-ups. This unfortunately doesn't only work for the film, because many of the movies anti-army messages, while not wrong in themselves, are too blunt to really work in the story's context and are presented in way too serious a manner, Romero tries too hard to make the film more intelligent than it actually is, and at the same time the story lacks well fleshed-out characters to sympathize with. Plus, Romero proves to be not too competent to handle the shoot-outs and action scenes that should have carried the film, while actual horror scenes or atmospheric shots don't feature prominently in The Crazies.

That all said, The Crazies still isn't too bad a film, but by no means a masterpiece like Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead from five years later - which features plenty of the irony this one is so sadly missing.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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