THE CRAZIES

(1973)
With Lane Carroll, Will MacMillam, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty, Richard France, Harry Spillmanm, Will Disney
Directed by George A. Romero
Reviewed by JB

      The crazies who give this movie its title are not flesh-eating zombies, but merely people driven insane, sometimes violently so, by a biological weapon accidentally released into a town's water supply. Therefore, THE CRAZIES is not a zombie movie per se, but rather an obvious attempt by George Romero to recapture the spirit of his first (and at that time, only) hit NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.  Although not entirely successful, THE CRAZIES woud influence many later zombie movies, including Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD and DAY OF THE DEAD, as well as Danny Boyle's 28 DAYS LATER.

      THE CRAZIES is a mixed bag of a movie.  Some sequences show what an effective horror director Romero was, while others get bogged down in loud dialogue and overwrought performances.  Unfortunately, the film's most effective scene comes right at the beginning, where a little girl discovers her mother murdered in bed and her father busting up the kitchen and dousing it with gasoline.  It runs about a minute or two, but packs more of a horror wallop than anything else that follows.

     The film's ambition outweighs its budget by a large margin.  Romero wants to show us a "war" that breaks out between the military, the civilians, the scientists and the crazies themselves, but much of the action is marred by special effects that make everything look like a weekend paintball excursion.  Romero also fills the movie with an overly large cast of characters, including two male leads who are nearly indistinguishable from each other, and then paces everything so frenetically that there is little time to get emotionally invested in any one character.  Still, Richard France scores big as a scientist pressed into action to find a cure. This character may be a loud and arrogant bastard, but loud and arrogant bastards can be a lot of fun when played by actors who know how to pull it off and still keep us on their side.  France essentially reprises the same character, now with a cool eye patch, for a bit part in Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD five years later.

     As a quasi-zombie movie made by the man who invented the genre, THE CRAZIES is worth watching for fans of the genre who are interested in seeing the stepping stone between NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and the zombie classics that followed. 3 - JB 

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