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‘The Crazies’ is one Hell of a Great Remake

10 Years Later, Revisiting The Crazies

The Crazies is about the inhabitants of a small Kansas town systematically plagued by insanity after a mysterious toxin contaminates their water supply when a plane bearing biological toxins crashes in a lake. The adversary is the U.S. Government, who launches a “containment protocol,” leading to a coverup and eventually many dead residents of the once-peaceable town. Sheriff David Dutton (a convincing Timothy Olyphant) and his physician-pregnant-wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell), try desperately to remain among the dwindling ranks of the unaffected.

The Crazies (a reinvention loosely based upon the George Romero classic of the same name) stays loyal to the original’s intent, making a statement about the perils of a ruthless, self-serving government turning on its citizens. Wasting no time establishing its premise The Crazies begins as a taut horror film and remains en effective journey through paranoia and conspiracy theories.

Directed by Breck Eisner – son of ex-Disney head Michael Eisner, the film does what an exploitation movie should and among all the many early George Romero inspired genre pieces or remakes, The Crazies is perhaps the ripest candidate. Part zombie movie, part apocalyptic bio-terror, part military conspiracy thriller, and a doomsday action piece, the film never disappoints, delivering a dozen or so bloody surprises. Although the new version is more visually expansive than Romero’s ultra-low-budget original (which suffered from a few amateurish decisions), Eisner puts the money to good use, delivering a beautifully shot film that contains equal measures of style and gore while somehow retaining its minimalist spirit.

Scott Kosar also responsible for penning the remakes of The Amityville Horror and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, teamed with writer Ray Wright on this script. The screenplay makes changes mostly for the better, ramping up the horror factor by not overemphasizing on arguments between military personnel and weighing down too heavily on the political subtext. Swapping the original’s sex scenes and cheesy look for more realistic splatter, we get a tighter focus on the townspeople’s struggle, making the movie more of a survival story.

More tense than truly scary, the picture does manage some terrific set pieces, notably in the ward and at a funeral parlour. However, the highlight of the film comes from an extremely tense scene set in a car wash, building suspense through a wall of soap bubbles and ending with a bang. Eisner brings plenty of tension and some gratifying scares amid the ordinariness of Main Street U.S.A. and never relies on gore to achieve it. Instead, he opts for a simple slow pan to reveal something terrifying as appose to a slathering of gore.

Like all the best thrillers, The Crazies achieves believability, with convincing performances by its central cast, despite the characters forgetting a few basic rules of the genre – don’t go anywhere alone, don’t look back, don’t leave your pregnant wife unattended and always double-tap.

By the end of The Crazies, we’ve been led by an epidemic to something close to the end of the world. The Crazies is familiar B-movie fare, but it’s also filmed with brilliant visual style and edited with a well-paced flair. Fans of the original may want to keep a close watch on a brief cameo by Lynn Lowry riding a bicycle and singing a hymn.

– Ricky D

Written By

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the Sordid Cinema Podcast and NXpress Nintendo Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound On Sight, and host of several podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead podcasts, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mike

    August 3, 2020 at 12:45 am

    Like The Hills Have Eyes remake, it’s better than it has any right to be.

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