USA 2010  Directed by: Breck Eisner   Written by: George A. Romero (Original), Scott Kosar, Ray Wright   Produced by: Michael Aguilar, Rob Cowan, Dean Georgaris, George A. Romero   Cinematography: Maxime Alexandre   Editing: Billy Fox  Music: Mark Isham   Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, Danielle Panabaker, Christie Lynn Smith, Brett Rickaby

Looks like George A. Romero himself (now as executive producer of the remake) has finally rediscovered his own “lost” zombie movie. THE CRAZIES has never been considered part of Romero’s original zombie trilogy, and it’s about time this underrated gem gets back into the limelight.

I never really understood why CRAZIES was not part of the zombie club. At the end the reason the zombies become what they are has never been explained anyhow. Is it a meteor, or a virus, or the moon, or what? So it would have been legitimate to see CRAZIES as part of the zombie anthology. But they were crazies and not zombies, so I guess that simply didn’t work out.

Seeing that many so-called zombie films today are using viruses as reason for people turning into flesh-eating idiots makes CRAZIES look like the original virus-makes-zombie movie. Looking back Romero interestingly was ahead of his time once again, only he didn’t know it, he didn’t plan it, and he didn’t consider this a zombie movie. Nevertheless we have to understand CRAZIES as the blueprint and mother of all virus-based zombie movies.

THE CRAZIES, despite being a good and original movie, had its weaknesses and clearly lacked the impact of Romero’s other zombie films. It may well be the only one of his zombie films that deserves a remake. So let’s have a look at THE CRAZIES 2010.

As expected the storyline is entirely predictable and needs no detailed explanation here. What’s fun about most zombie movies is that they are indeed all completely predictable, so we can sit back and enjoy the show. Exploding heads are simply more fun to watch if we know what’s going to happen. THE CRAZIES is no exception, so even if you do not know the original you’ll have absorbed enough genre logic by now to watch THE CRAZIES without asking yourself any questions.

It’s the details that make a film like THE CRAZIES highly entertaining: the characters, the situations, the setting, the location, the deaths (eventually). Now, it’s not easy to beat a film like ZOMBIELAND that has fully understood that it’s all about these details and not about the story at all (kind of the only exception would be DAWN and maybe partially DAY OF THE DEAD; but otherwise there is no such thing as a story-driven zombie flick).

THE CRAZIES is trying to spice things up a bit as well. First and foremost by casting Timothy Olyphant as sheriff: I would have done the same just so that he can repeat his role from DEADWOOD. He doesn’t disappoint and performs pretty much with the same laconic coolness, dry humor and toughness like in HBO’s western series. Olyphant is pretty much spot-on and instantly elevates the film to a higher level.

Problem is that all other characters are not more than sidekicks as usual, people we do not really care about. Olyphant is carrying the film on his shoulders – luckily he succeeds in leading the audience through the entire film. Compared to other genre films THE CRAZIES therefore has the better cast because at least the lead actor is A.

What helps THE CRAZIES keeping the momentum is the war against two enemies, the zombies and the army. In CRAZIES the army is basically taking over the role of the bad guys (like outlaws) we know from other zombie films. Overall the pace is good and CRAZIES doesn’t cause fatigue, action and dialogue are well balanced and Olyphant has a few real killer lines and is entertaining us with his extreme mood swings.

THE CRAZIES is the proof that zombie movies today are (again) entertainment like anything else (just like they were in the good old days before someone came up with the idea of video nasties). THE CRAZIES is in a way aiming for a mainstream audience, with restricted onscreen violence and enough clichés that the average couple doesn’t have to leave their comfort zone.

Fans may complain about some shameless borrowing from genre legends, i.e. the bone saw scene from RE-ANIMATOR or the truck scene from DAWN OF THE DEAD. But that’s all water under the bridge if you bear in mind that THE CRAZIES is what it is and that it is what all the other zombie movies are: entertaining scenes that are edited in a way to give us the impression of chronological events whereas all that matters are the individual scenes and their originality.

THE CRAZIES features some good ideas, some great dialogue, some punchy action and a lead actor other zombie movies would wish for. Without Olyphant THE CRAZIES would lose its biggest asset and would most probably not be half as good. Having Olyphant on board though I must admit that THE CRAZIES works for me. It’s not a milestone, maybe not even especially good, but it’s kind of like an early Clint Eastwood movie that shines because of the hero.



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5 Responses to “THE CRAZIES”


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  4. CMrok93 Says:

    A fast-paced thriller that won’t change your life, but it won’t leave you checking your watch every five minutes either. Good Review, check out mine when you can!

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