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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Crazies (1973)



Everyone knows about Romero’s zombie movies, Creepshow, and even Martin. It surprises me that so many fans are either unaware of or uninterested in the Crazies. Even after they did a remake in 2010 the original still sits in that pile of “other stuff” Romero directed for many horror fans. That is a damn shame because this one is pretty good and has a fun connection to Day of the Dead.

The movie starts off rather disturbing. A couple of young kids are goofing off around the house when their father comes in acting strange. They go to wake their mother up and find that he has killed her. Then he sets the place on fire and tries to burn them alive. The next scene are our main characters, David and Judy, lying in bed when the phone rings and the siren goes off. She is a nurse and he is a volunteer firefighter, so they both have places to be. We find that not only is the house on fire, but things are starting to go to hell in Evans City.

Soon marshal law is declared and the army starts shooting anyone that fights back. Since many in town are infected and “crazy” there are a lot of shootouts and ambushes. Even a little old lady gets in on the action with her knitting needles. We also find out that this is a chemical weapon, an engineered virus that got out in the “wild” on accident. Thus, the quick military response. In this chaos David and Judy, along with some other survivors try to get out of town alive. The movie has a rather bleak ending where the military manages to miss out on not one but two potential cures for the viral outbreak.

This really is a downer of a movie, much like Night of the Living Dead. Romero doesn’t have a high opinion of how people would react to a life and death situation like zombies or a viral outbreak. Here the military takes control of the situation and quarantines the area hoping to contain the danger. But in meetings with the powers that be we see early on discussions about destroying the town with the soldiers in it! Then we find out that they made this virus as a weapon to use against the enemy. It’s their fault and they would rather just kill everyone than admit it. Later we also find out that they knew it was loose for a week but didn’t warn anyone. And while many are infected not all are, but still they act in violent ways to protect themselves or their property. Everyone comes off looking rather poorly.

So wrong...so very wrong
Then we see the effects of the virus on people. David’s friend Clank is with them and gets continually more confrontational and eventually starts killing people. But he realizes that he is infected and knows he is losing control. Eventually he acts as a decoy to let the couple escape knowing he will be killed. That was a kick in the pants. There is also a father and daughter that tag along with David and Judy. The daughter is clearly infected and eventually so is her father. This leads to some inappropriate behavior on his part. This is maybe the creepiest and most disturbing thing that Romero ever shot. It makes my skin crawl. The daughter is played by Lynn Lowry and the father is portrayed by Richard Liberty. As he goes crazy you can see bits of how he would later portray the crazed Dr. Logan aka. Frankenstein in Day of the Dead.

The finale of the movie shows us that David is immune, but ignored by the doctors. He is in shock because Judy has the disease and is shot in a firefight dying in his arms. We also find out that the army screwed up with their wait and see plan before quarantining the town. The virus has popped up in Louisville. We are pretty much screwed… Good movie though. I highly recommend it. One of Romero’s best non-zombie movies.



© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

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