The Crazies (1973)
By: J.R. McNamara on March 30, 2006  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Umbrella Entertainment (Australia). All Regions, PAL. 1.66:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 2.0, English DD 5.1. 98 minutes
The Movie
Director: George A. Romero
Starring: Lane Carroll, W.G. McMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty
Screenplay: George A. Romero
Country: USA
Believe it or not, in-between instalments of his 'DEAD' series, George Romero makes other films. Like all filmmakers, some of his flicks are losers, but some are real winners: The Crazies is one of those winners. Romero's fandom towards monster movies and 'atomic scare' films of the fifties are both obvious influences on the 'Dead' films, and the Crazies also gets a gigantic push from these influences as well. Probably just as relevant now as in 1973 when it was released, this tale of the government's suppression of a Pandemic virus accidentally released in a small town feels like it was pulled from today's science magazines like Focus and Scientific American.

The Crazies is the story of a town in Pennsylvania, called Evan's City, which has a virus, codenamed Trixie, accidentally released into its water supply. The virus causes madness and violent tendencies in all those who are exposed to it. The army declares martial law, and do their very best both to suppress the infection and control those who have already been exposed to it. While scientists, such as Dr. Watt (Richard France) search for a cure, five people (Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lynn Lowry and Richard Liberty) try to avoid the army, and to avoid being infected as well. Or have some of them already contracted it…

An obvious precursor the Dawn of the Dead, with scenes of the army entering houses, and the extreme military control, as well as the panic caused by an outbreak (in this case a virus, in Dawn…the dead coming back to life).

Even though filmed with a lot of unknowns, including locals from Evan's City, this film is surprisingly well acted, which might also be due to Romero's excellent script. There are some amazingly shocking scenes of the soldiers entering people's houses, and terrorizing families, which sticks into the mind, especially since these are the good guys, who have to do awful things to maintain law and order. It is rare than we get to see Romero deal with something not supernatural, and this proves that he can do it.
The picture has quite a lot of artefacts, and on occasion a bit of Chroma noise, but the picture is still incredibly clear and colourful for a film that is over 30 years old.
The soundtrack can be heard in either 2.0 or 5.1, and unfortunately is not that spectacular in either. Unfortunately the hazmat suits the soldiers are wearing tend to muffle some of the dialogue, which can make is a bit awkward to hear. Admittedly the 5.1 is slightly less 'tinny' and a slight bit clearer.
Extra Features
The audio commentary is done by Bill Lustig and George Romero, and is one of the better ones I have ever listened to. Lustig manages to drag some great information out of Romero, and Romero's recollections of the shoot are thorough. It is an interesting commentary also from the point of view of having a seasoned filmmaker looking back and assessing his own style 30 years ago.

TV Spots are two TV commercials for the Crazies. Basically they are the same clip, but one has a more 'SEE! HEAR!' styled voice over.

Stills Gallery is a scrolling slide show of promotional and behind the scenes pictures. Some of the shots are interesting, but with no audio, not even some muzak, it is not very engaging.

George A. Romero Biography is a text bio of Romero's life and cinematic output.

Trailers has a few different versions of the trailer for The Crazies. These trailers have suffered the test of time and have various artifacts and low level noise running through them. Again they are basically the same trailer with different voiceovers.

This disc also has trailers for Spontaneous Combustion, Driller Killer, Masters of Horror Volume 1: Mario Bava and Candyman.
The Verdict
While at times a little 'old school' now, the basic themes hold up well with today's natural threats. This film is before its time, and an obvious influence on films such as Nightmare City and 28 Days Later. A must see, and a worthy addition to any horror buffs collection.
Movie Score
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