They’re Crazies not zombies…until the remake

People with no conscience are going psycho and killing anyone they want. No, it’s not life in the 21st century (yes it is). It’s The Crazies. Was a remake really necessary? Yes, it was.

THE CRAZIES (1973)

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George A. Romero, the man who brought us the horror genre game changer Night of the Living Dead, went from zombies to infected with The Crazies. But infectious it’s not. It’s torture! Already looking to pound a social statement into our heads endlessly like he would several years later with Dawn of the Dead, George gives us a military movie many would like to pretend is a horror movie. Um…there’s a fricking military drum march playing through the whole film.

Nothing scary in this tedious cautionary tale, which offers endless military talk about a small town that falls victim to a bioweapon and what the government plans to do about it. In an effort to bring in a human element, Romero also follows a small group of townsfolk who escape the quarantine and must stay away from the gun-wielding guys in white uniforms and gas masks.

As mobs run and shoot at each other, it basically becomes a civil war, with viewers having no idea who are the Crazies and who are simply humans desperate to survive in a world gone mad. Very clever, Mr. Romero! Unfortunately, instead of everyone being as scary as they are crazy, they’re just boring and annoying.

The use of uber-red blood doesn’t help much in giving horror fans hope that this film will be up there with Romero’s black & white classic. There’s one scene that’s kind of effective, involving an old lady Crazy in a rocking chair with a knitting needle (or is she just a dementia sufferer?). Also, depending on your feelings about religion, you might love the part when the priest sets himself on fire. And if incest is your thing, you’re in for Crazy perversion.

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However, from what I’ve heard, for most fans, the best and most meaningful scene in the film shows one of the Crazies diligently doing her daily chores…sweeping up a field littered with dead people.

It should come as no surprise that Romero’s zombie “masterpiece” a few years later would feature a pie throwing fight….

THE CRAZIES (2010)

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Fuck Romero’s brilliant satire. Just give me zombies that are as brain-dead as I am. Which is why the 2010 remake makes me do a zombie dance. While it’s also an “infected” movie, with the zombie craze cashing in at the box office these Crazies are basically money-hungry zombies, complete with gnarly faces. However, they do talk once in a while, use melee weapons and guns, and are trickier than most zombies because they think and react like humans.

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if you think that’s not a zombie, you can bite me

Being crazy for the star makes the remake even better. Timothy Olyphant got so much hotter as he aged and looks amazing in a sheriff’s uniform. Things in his small town start to spiral out of control quickly after he’s forced to shoot a local who threatens him with a gun. It’s not long before Timothy pieces together that an incident occurring in the water supply may be the cause of people becoming infected.

The premise might be the same as the original, but this remake delivers more scares and less social message. There’s a great scene in the coroner’s office that’s also rather funny because of the faces Timothy makes as he fights off a Crazy with an electric saw. There are even moments of testicle terror as the saw goes kamikaze on Timothy’s crotch.

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After 30 minutes being a military-free zone, the town is quarantined and the army invades. NO! Not the army! Okay. I would call them in to save Timothy’s balls, but then they have to go. As townsfolk are herded together, Timothy and his wife, played by Radha Mitchell of Silent Hill, manage to get away.

As the couple tries to escape, the army virtually disappears (yay!), and they get into quite a few thrilling confrontations with the Crazies right up until the end of the film. The suspense totally rocks. I’d be kicking myself if someone fixed my movie called The Crazies by making a movie that’s actually about the Crazies.

Even so, this remake runs the same hour and 40 minutes as the original, and could use about 15 minutes shaved off to tighten the pacing. There’s so much damn footage of the heroes traveling from one location to the next in a small town that seems to be spread out across an entire state.

If every horror movie could be edited by someone with my attention span before its release, I could plow through 2 movies in 2 hours. Heck. That could have saved me almost an hour and a half of being bored to distraction while watching a The Crazies double feature. Of course, I could have stayed more focused by totally skipping the original.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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