Review by Thomas Scalzo
Posted on 16 October 2004
Source Blue Underground DVD
features: October: 31 Days of Horror
A plane carrying a biological weapon crashes near a small Pennsylvania town, unleashing a merciless virus that renders its victims insane and prone to violence. Desperate to cover up the situation, the government orders a quarantine of Evans City, calling in the army to enforce martial law and subdue the ever-growing number of Crazies.
Released less than five years after George A. Romero’s first feature film, Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies continues the director’s efforts to blend gruesome horror with pointed social commentary. Unlike Night of the Living Dead, however, in which observations on the nature of humanity are consistently overshadowed by the relentless terror of the zombie hordes, The Crazies allows a blistering Vietnam-era attack on the ineptitude and heartlessness of both the government and military to significantly dilute its promising horror element.
Thus, instead of the murderous rampages we might expect from a movie about the angry insane, we have callous government men coldly discuss the fate of Evans City, while their emotionless soldier minions force people from their homes, loot abandoned corpses, and ruthlessly mow down any who resist. By contrast, the Crazies are usually depicted as addled fools, pitiable victims of government machinations. Even when Romero allows us the rare glimpse of Crazies going crazy (keep an eye out for grandma brandishing knitting needle), he never lets us forget who is ultimately to blame for the violence.
With the threat of the Crazies effectively neutralized, we are forced to seek our fright-flick fix in the efforts of the unaffected members of town to escape both the spreading virus and the merciless military cordon. And while this story is an exciting one, filled with helicopter chases and machine gun shoot outs, the fear of capture, or even death, at the hands of soldiers, cannot compare with the untapped horror potential of a ravenous pack of bloodthirsty Crazies.