The Crazies Review

Oh...And I Liked The Movie, Too!

by Jon D’Amore

Most often, when the hype, marketing or promo of a film is far above average it’s a sure sign the finished product isn’t too good (or as good as the studio, director and producers were hoping it would be). Even here in Hollywood where screenings and premiers are commonplace and promoted to the extreme, between the red carpets, the free soda, popcorn and anything else they want to throw at us in return for our kind words to get the seats filled, we’re often let down by the time the final credits start rolling.

This is what I was expecting as Corpsy and I rolled into the parking lot that for some reason was at least 3 blocks from the theater where the screening of The Crazies was to take place. It took us only a few seconds to realize why.

Our car was immediately approached by camouflaged gas-masked wearing soldiers carrying M-16s and grenades yelling at us, demanding to know who we were, why we were there and if we drank any tap water within the last 24 hours. I held up my ever present bottle of Arrowhead.

Once we were allowed to proceed we knew something was askew. A couple of soldiers had an angry man and woman pinned against an armored Hummer getting their hands cuffed and aggressively being dragged away. We were directed (with much yelling and flashlights pointed directly into our eyes) to our designated parking spot. Our body temperatures were then checked (don’t ask how) and we were given wrist bands. Mine was green. Corpsy’s was red...and that was when we were separated.

Corpsy was tossed into a cage with several other red wrist-banded humans (for lack of a better word) where they were bullet-riddled with M-16’s and then, thanks to a very efficient flame-thrower, burnt to a crisp (which was bad for me as Corpsy was the one holding our passes for the screening). I was now on my own.

About twenty of us green wrist-banded folks (for lack of a better word) were shuttled into a special window-covered bus so we couldn’t see what was happening outside, or where we would be going.

Eventually the bus started rolling, but not before we were yelled at by the driver and a heavily armed guard to keep quiet and obey all of the orders we would be given. I had assumed (and quite wrongly) that we would be dropped off in front of the theater.

Stepping off the bus, we were ordered to “Keep moving! Keep moving!” as a dozen soldiers and medical personnel in surgical masks hurried us through a temporary field hospital with what appeared to be very sick and bloodied people being dragged aside and put against the cold, wet brick walls. I had to step over the occasion dead body in order to stay with my fellow bus riders.

We eventually made it through the hospital and proceeded to make our way (along with more yelling, guns, flashlights in our eyes and people bordering on insanity) to the theater’s entrance. Before entering, I noticed that the marquee’s name had been changed to Ogden Marsh...for what reason? At the time, I had no idea why.

With soldiers and doctors walking along the aisles and flashing lights into random eyes, the seats were quickly filled, but not before several soldiers yanked a few people kicking and screaming from their seats and carried them out of the theater, we can only assume to be shot and incinerated. It was now time to start the film.

As you most likely know, the original version of The Crazies, the third film directed and co-written by gore, suspense and horror-miester George Romeo, was released in 1973. Now, 37 years later, with Romeo as co-writer and executive producer, the story is back with the budget and special effects he didn’t have at his disposal so many years ago.

The suspense, surprises and effects makes this new version, directed by Breck Eisner, one that will stay with fans of the genre for some time.

Unlike the original, which took place in Pennsylvania, the story takes place in the quiet farm town of (you guessed it) Ogden Marsh, Iowa, and it’s not long after the opening scene that things start to happen.

Some of the locals are acting a bit odd, especially those living closest to the town’s underground water supply. One thing quickly becomes a problem for the town’s well-liked resident, Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant). It seems everyone in this part of the country owns a decent amount of weaponry, and once they begin their decent into their “illness,” they’re very happy and able to use them.

Sheriff Dutton’s newly pregnant wife (Radha Mitchell), and the town’s primary doctor (how convenient), quickly sees something is very wrong amongst the community’s rapidly rising body count at the morgue.

My only complaint (if it can even be called that) is nothing more than noticing overt references to scenes or dialogue out of The Andromeda Strain, Outbreak and Jaws. But what horror/suspense film doesn’t have a scene or two that’s similar to another movie?

Eisner and director of photography Maxime Alexandre uses the camera to catch the minutest of details to make you squirm while you’re waiting for the horror. The dragging of the pitchfork along the hospital floor as it leaves a never-ending trail of blood. The sound of the pitchfork tearing through a vicitm bound to their hospital cot and rips through to the bottom, releasing streams of blood. The farmer’s wife standing before the bright lights atop the churning threshing machine. The car wash.

There were more than a few intensely suspenseful scenes that had you feeling you were being set up for the prerequisite innocent victim hiding in a closet as someone with a gun/knife/axe walks by...only to be found and slaughtered. But in The Crazies, that rarely happened. Instead, when the film sets you up, it’s for something more horrific and frightening that is about to happen.

Sure, the sheriff and his wife get away from all the Crazies (which are nothing like zombies. These infected folks can still converse, walk at a good pace, run, climb and drive. Of course, it’s the blood oozing from their nose and ears that’s the first telltale sign. After that, not unlike attorneys, they just start to decay from within, lose their good sense of judgment and become homicidal) and make their way to the outskirts of the “big city” (Cedar Rapids) for help. It’s the perfect place to leave off for the sequel.

Now, I needed to find my way back to the car.

Military personnel escorted a few dozen of us through the streets back to the makeshift hospital where doctors in surgical masks and rubber gloves fed us hors d’oeuvres and liquids (we were assured it wasn’t tap water and ordered to drink it). Oddly enough, this was where I found Corpsy enjoying himself with the cast and crew (and a few models) of The Crazies.

It was obvious, you can’t keep a good Corpsy down.

I give the movie (and the marketing) 5 out of 5 Corpsies.