The Crazies is a movie that, at first glance, doesn’t seem to have a lot going for it. There are no stars, unless you count director George Romero. There are no monsters. There’s not much of a budget and it shows in every single scene. And even if you’re the type who loves an obscure, low budget movie, you wouldn’t get amazing characters or performances. Really, you’d be forgiven for skipping this one altogether, as many people have over the years.
But you’d be wrong to, because The Crazies is a movie whose engine runs solely on its director’s anger and it’s a pretty amazing thing to watch for that reason alone. The movie is about what happens in a small Pennsylvania town after a plane crashes carrying a chemical weapon code named ‘Trixie’. The military swoops in and starts locking the place town, understandably upsetting all the neighbors. Residents start getting quarantined, so a band of survivors – led by David (W.G. McMillan), a former green beret, and his lady Judy (Lane Carroll), a local nurse who happens to be pregnant – try to get out of town, finding HAZMAT suited soldiers at every turn. And these soldiers have itchy trigger fingers and not so great reasoning skills, making them about as deadly as the zombies from Romero’s most famous movie.
The story also follows the local military organization, how it is overwhelmed and mismanaged. How the muckity mucks in Washington are ready to literally nuke the entire town to cover their asses. And how the good people of Evans City, PA know their rights but have no power.
But really, it’s not a movie about life or love or even these characters. The Crazies is a movie about politics, plain and simple. It’s a movie about Vietnam and Nixon and Kent State and civil rights and women’s rights, etc., etc. And it is very angry and very mean and it is not going to make you feel very good about things when it finally lets you go – a true product of its time.
But until it does, it will grip you. And you’ll forgive the cheesy effects and the bright red fake blood. In fact, those things will cause you to love it even more. It’s like a cheap community theater production where the one and only thing going for it is your own deep-seated anger at authority types, at the oppressors, at the thick headed folks that run your life. Romero is able to tap directly into that and almost flaunts that fact by otherwise not giving you a whole lot else to look at.
That being said, The Crazies still provides us with some of the best directing Romero ever whipped up, including the final scene of Kathy (Lynn Lowery), a character that rides the line between crazy and sane through the entire story and never gives up which side of the line she’s on. Though essentially a side character, her journey proves that you don’t need some chemical weapon in the air to make you crazy. Your fellow man is pretty competent at taking on that job for you.
This is filmmaking so wicked and potent, it’s like no one even took the time to plan any of it out. It moves at a furious pace with an ambitious scope and a thin wallet to back it up. The fact that it works is reason enough to buy it right now.
The film is presented in 1.66:1 widescreen. The look of the film wasn’t exactly great shakes to begin with, but Blue Underground gives us a very clean print. The audio is presented in English DTS-HD Mono with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles. The mono soundtrack is… well, it’s mono, ya know? It’s only going to be so good. But this is probably about as good as it gets.
Audio Commentary with Director George A. Romero – Sit back and bask in the glory of Romero laying everything out for you that could possibly want to know about this movie or about his process in general. And dang master class in low-budget filmmaking.
The Cult Flim Legacy of Lynn Lowery – Interview with Star Lynn Lowery – Lynn Lowery talks about making The Crazies and about her career in general. An interesting side note to the movie. (14:01)
Theatrical Trailers – (2:56 & 3:03)
TV spots – (1:02 & :32)
The Crazies is an exploitation flick and a heady sociology lesson all in one. A must own movie.
Blue Underground presents The Crazies. Directed by: George A. Romero. Starring: Lane Carroll, W.G. McMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowery, Richard Liberty. Written by: Paul McCollough and George A. Romero. Running time: 103min. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: February 23, 2010. Available at Amazon.com