Tall, Dark, and Dead – 32 – The Crazies

Title: The Crazies
Year: 1973
Director: George Romero
Leads: Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones

Favorite quote: “If only we knew what Watts was working on. We checked the slides he left behind in his microscope and his notes, but we can’t make heads or tails out of any of it. He was onto something, we know that.”

Thoughts: I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking seriously about whether or not The Crazies actually constitutes a zombie movie – which has been difficult for me, as I’m naturally liberal when it comes to questions of zombie existentialism.

Unlike a lot of (or perhaps most) zombie fans, I firmly believe that infected/crazy/mentally-scattered-and-or-controlled living people count as zombies. They were the first zombies. They will be the last zombies. Yes, I said it – the future of the zombie genre lies not with the undead, but with the living. As I’ve noted before, zombies were originally living people controlled by magic and/or drugs, and zombies are increasingly becoming living people affected by illnesses, drugs, or injuries that induce zombie-like behavior. It’s simply the foreseeable future of the genre, and we’d be stupid not to acknowledge it.

And thus I’m going to include the original and the remake of The Crazies toward my total and then skirt clear of infected-living zombies until I pass 100 films, in order to keep the balance. I think this is a fair compromise.

The Crazies was created by Romero himself, after all, and is yet another vision of apocalypse-via-raw-humanity; yet another vision of society unraveling and rising against itself. Compared to the remake, the atmosphere of the original better reflects the aim of the movie – it’s much more urgent, much more immediate. It marks a departure from the original Night of the Living Dead, which, for all it accomplished and pioneered in terms of gore and violence, is still somewhat slow-paced.

There are some brilliant visuals in this film, including several wherein the army medical teams, in their hazmat suits, appear to wander the landscape like ghosts or aliens – or perhaps reapers. I also found myself marveling at the bit where David walls off Judy with cinder blocks in an effort to save her – entombing her along with her madness, after a fashion.

I’ll have more to say about living-zombie films, as well as a Unified Theory to posit, when I write about the remake.

Links: The Crazies at IMDB
The Crazies on Wikipedia

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