Being the godfather of the zombie horror, it’s often forgotten that George A. Romero even directed anything but zombie films. One that does come to mind though is the 1973 sci-fi horror, The Crazies. A film that would get a remake in 2010.
Written and directed by Romero, The Crazies is a low-budget horror. One that tells the story of a small town and the effect of the accidental release of a military biological weapon upon the people that live there.
Effectively a movie that is split in two, it tells two different stories. One set around a group of survivors who are doing everything to stay alive and the other set around the military trying to contain the epidemic.
The movie doesn’t hang around, opening with the first of many violent and psychotic acts from the townspeople on each other. Those that aren’t committing murder or arson are completely oblivious to what is going on around them. One such scene sees a woman calmly sweeping around the bodies of dead civilians and soldiers while an intense fire-fight takes place. A different kind of crazy but crazy none the less.
When the army arrive, they put the town on lockdown and reveal that a plane carrying an untested bioweapon crash-landed in the hills nearby. It infected the water supply and anyone who drank from the reservoir has been affected. Once infected the victim either dies or becomes insane.
The Crazies does share some similarities with Romero’s Night of the Living Dead with the ‘them’ or ‘us’ concept. It deals with the big question of just how we as people would react in times of great strain. Do you pull together? Or do we tear each other apart? Unlike Night of the Living Dead though, just who can trust is not instantly clear. A great example of this sees a soldier stabbed with a knitting needle by an elderly woman when he goes to check on her.
A lot of the acting leaves a lot to be desired and the effects are pretty ropey by today’s standards but with a tone that is one of hopelessness, even its ending leaves you feeling despair. Ambiguous, it’s a pity we never got a sequel as there was certainly much more story to tell.
The way in which the story is told and the pacing makes it more enjoyable as Romero’s script is both smart and filled with plenty of tension.
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The Final Score - 6.5/10