Directed by George A. Romero
Starring Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Lynn Lowry
Review by Jordan
It can be argued that most horror films are a product of their environment by mistake; holding a mirror up to society by accident, when in reality their creator is simply trying to terrify us on a more basic level. If that is the case, then George Romero’s little-seen ’73 classic is definitely not in the majority.
Having recently reviewed Breck Eisner’s surprisingly solid 2010 remake, I won’t delve into the specifics of plot or circumstance, suffice to say this story takes place in an America at war with itself in an recent period of great distrust, where powers-that-be wouldn’t hesitate in irradiating their own in order to protect an identity; a greater cause. The residents of Evan’s City are going crazy, ravaging their civilisation and each other, but when its discovered how this extreme sickness came about, and the solution is uncovered, the craziness really begins…
Romero’s third feature film (if you count the vastly unseen There’s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch), The Crazies also remains his most personal and with its production flaws and raw, guerrilla filming style emits an undoubtable angst that a larger budget may have diluted. It’s not as scary as Night of the living Dead (’68), as moving as Martin (’76) or articulate as Dawn of the Dead (’79) but despite its shortcomings remains essential viewing in the master’s oeuvre. Lynn Lowry and Richard France, as a survivor and scientist respectively, are incredibly memorable in their roles due almost to physical appearance alone, and the sound of the marching drum set to a backdrop of contamination-suit wearing soldiers heaping bodies into piles and burning them with roaring flame-throwers unshakable also. Critics on the lookout for filmilc qualities and artistic sophistication will dismiss this in an instant, but we all know that horror fans are the most knowledgeable cinephiles around, having broadened their scope and allowed suspension of disbelief in order to be entertained, and these genre-devotees hold The Crazies in high enough regard to guarantee its significance.
As a middle finger aimed squarely at Nixon-era American governance, coupled with bare-knuckle tension and an unrelenting sense of irresponsibility, George A. Romero’s The Crazies is crazy good. Compared with what he would go on to achieve through further exploration of his zombies, a lonely vampire and helper monkey? Still good, though not quite on the same level. Ultimately, if you’re disenfranchised with our leaders and need to see someone stick it to them in your place, then a trip to Evan’s City is in order.
4 downbeat endings out of 5