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
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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.
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 ...
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