Classic Review – The Crazies (1973)

crazies73

The Crazies

Directed by George A. Romero

Starring Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Lynn Lowry

Review by Jordan

It can be argued that most horror films are a product of their environment by mistake; holding a mirror up to society by accident, when in reality their creator is simply trying to terrify us on a more basic level. If that is the case, then George Romero’s little-seen ’73 classic is definitely not in the majority.

Having recently reviewed Breck Eisner’s surprisingly solid 2010 remake, I won’t delve into the specifics of plot or circumstance, suffice to say this story takes place in an America at war with itself in an recent period of great distrust, where powers-that-be wouldn’t hesitate in irradiating their own in order to protect an identity; a greater cause. The residents of Evan’s City are going crazy, ravaging their civilisation and each other, but when its discovered how this extreme sickness came about, and the solution is uncovered, the craziness really begins…

Romero’s third feature film (if you count the vastly unseen There’s Always Vanilla and Season of the Witch), The Crazies also remains his most personal and with its production flaws and raw, guerrilla filming style emits an undoubtable angst that a larger budget may have diluted. It’s not as scary as Night of the living Dead (’68), as moving as Martin (’76) or articulate as Dawn of the Dead (’79) but despite its shortcomings remains essential viewing in the master’s oeuvre. Lynn Lowry and Richard France, as a survivor and scientist respectively, are incredibly memorable in their roles due almost to physical appearance alone, and the sound of the marching drum set to a backdrop of contamination-suit wearing soldiers heaping bodies into piles and burning them with roaring flame-throwers unshakable also. Critics on the lookout for filmilc qualities and artistic sophistication will dismiss this in an instant, but we all know that horror fans are the most knowledgeable cinephiles around, having broadened their scope and allowed suspension of disbelief in order to be entertained, and these genre-devotees hold The Crazies in high enough regard to guarantee its significance.

As a middle finger aimed squarely at Nixon-era American governance, coupled with bare-knuckle tension and an unrelenting sense of irresponsibility, George A. Romero’s The Crazies is crazy good. Compared with what he would go on to achieve through further exploration of his zombies, a lonely vampire and helper monkey? Still good, though not quite on the same level. Ultimately, if you’re disenfranchised with our leaders and need to see someone stick it to them in your place, then a trip to Evan’s City is in order.

4 downbeat endings out of 5

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5 responses to “Classic Review – The Crazies (1973)

  1. Nice review! I thought the original “Crazies” had potential to be something special, especially given that chilling opening scene but ultimately I thought it was lacking. I get that Romero was going for chaos over story but I would’ve appreciated a bit more focus in this film. The remake is better, a rare case. It isn’t perfect either but has more punch and affect in my opinion. As a fan of Romero’s “Dead” films it’s fun to dive into his earlier work from time to time and appreciate the man in the making.

  2. I like “The Crazies,” too. I first saw it in the early 80s when I was a teen; and I have a copy on VHS (old school). Considering Romero did this on a very low budget, he did a hell of a job putting together a movie that shows how powerless citizens can be when their government declares a state of emergency. Did you notice the actor who played the main scientist was also in the beginning of the original “Dawn of The Dead?” Or that the actor who played the father of the teenaged daughter played “Dr. Frankenstein” in “Day of The Dead?”

    • Yeah the low budget really adds to the raw feel I reckon, Romero was certainly an angry man at the time of making this that’s for sure!
      I did notice those, awesome little easter eggs for the keen observer.
      Hang onto that VHS, it might be worth something one day!
      Cheers, Jordan

  3. Pingback: Halloween Special – Top 10 Found Footage Horror Movies | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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