the crazies 1973 poster - Highlander
The Crazies – 1973

Director George Romero
Screenplay George Romero, Paul McCullough
Starring Lane Carroll, Will MacMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, Lynn Lowry, Richard Liberty

As many George Romero films as I have seen, I have yet to see one with what one could be considered good actors or even good directing. There are occasional good moments here and there, but overall, the skill is somewhat below local theater troupe making an even lower budget version of Home for Purim.

The story is the same as the remake of this film a decade ago. A virus, called Trixie, is unleashed on a small Iowa town after a plane crash. The army comes in and quarantines the town after the first obvious case. By then it’s too late, of course. Much of the town is rounded up, and a few of the townspeople escape.

In the remake, I thoroughly enjoyed the bonding of characters that felt like they’d been together for a long time. As a result, each loss amounted to more and felt genuine to the situation.

There is a lot of the dna of this film spread throughout that version of the film. The premise is almost note for note. I couldn’t tell you the name of any of the characters in this version. There is a lot of shouting, bad special effects and running through the hills.It’s clear that there is passion behind the making of the film, it’s just not executed to any believable degree.

It’s tough to watch this film and not imagine that the whole town is brought in to help make the film. While this is much better than the director’s previous film, The Season of the Witch, the overall feeling is that of a bunch of amateurs making a film during the town’s off hours.

There are some suspenseful sequences that in better hands would be more fun to watch. There are other moments where obvious corners are cut hilariously. Richard France as a scientist looking for a cure is a wonderfully over heated performance.

The one point Romero hammers home is a worthy one. The idea of government as a well meaning but ultimately flawed institution permeates throughout. Bad decisions always undo good intention. That’s even before the effects of the virus determines their actions. Then it is up to the very few sensible people to make their way through the mess. The end is disappointing, to be sure. Then I am guessing they did the best they could with the budget they had.

If you like Romero, this is one of his better films. It’s not quite there for me, but I can understand why they updated it with an actual budget and a director who could fully realize his vision.

(** out *****)

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