The Crazies

1973

The Crazies

Critics Consensus

The Crazies isn't top-shelf Romero, but its blend of genre thrills and social subtext should still be enough to satisfy discerning horror fans.

65%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 23

43%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,967
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Movie Info

George A. Romero returns to Night of the Living Dead turf with middling success in this quirky end-of-civilization thriller, also released as The Crazies. The paranoid scenario involves a government-engineered killer virus (identified by the title moniker) which is accidentally released into the water supply of Evans, Pennsylvania, driving most of the inhabitants stark-raving mad and forcing the declaration of martial law as the entire town is placed under quarantine. This does not sit well with the locals -- even those who have not yet been contaminated who consider the military mobilization tantamount to war. Romero keeps the momentum up by causing an escalating series of disasters, with each attempt at resolution making the horrors exponentially worse. One might be led to consider this a metaphor for Vietnam -- the military's presence is depicted as more threatening than the killers they've been sent to subdue -- but the film as a whole is too wildly erratic to focus on allegory, generating instead a ham-fisted criticism of government power. Pontificating aside, this is an effective, fast-paced thriller, thanks to some very effective setpieces, steadily mounting tension and outbursts of jarring violence.

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Critic Reviews for The Crazies

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (2)

Audience Reviews for The Crazies

  • Oct 19, 2013
    "Gotta get away from this stone-cold floor! Crazy; stone-cold crazy, you know!" I feel that it's a fitting reference, because where that Queen classic is hardcore until the somewhat fluffy lyrics kick in, this film is pretty hardcore until you pay attention to its title. This title sounds like some kind of a delightful '70s sitcom or something, but hey, it's better than the alternate title, "Code Name: Trixie", and it tells you that this George A. Romero film isn't so much about zombies, as much as it's simply about crazy people. That's right, folks, with this film, Romero went way off of his formula and make a very unique film about... a biological incident's turning people into mad subhumans bent on killing uninfected humans, or at least until... the allegorical deconstructions of the military kick in. Okay, well, maybe this doesn't stray too far off from Romero's traditional formula, but whatever in the world it is, people weren't having it, because at the box office this puppy lost a little over a whopping... $130,000. I joke, but the point is is that this film was dirt-cheap and it still bombed, which is a shame, because this film is decent, though it's not still not without quite a few problems. I joke about this film being formulaic, at least as a George A. Romero film, in spite of the absence of zombies, but this film really does hit plenty of tropes, and while it's not quite trite until we hit lowlights in the dialogue, familiarity is abound, and gradually sinks predictability in. Now, this film isn't really that genericm, at least it wasn't at the time, but I'd imagine that by 1973, alone, plenty of people had seen a film like this enough times to know where exactly this thriller is heading, and I'd imagine that predictability didn't do the patience of the audience any favors, because this film takes its time getting to a predictable point. In a minute, I'll be going more into the minimalism of this film, but to give you a little taste of later discussions, well, yeah, this film is kind of minimalist, yet it still clocks in at a runtime of 103 minutes that, regardless of its relative briefness, isn't that reasonable, being achieved largely through excess and very draggy filler that meanders along, sometimes backed by an atmospheric cold spell that further blands things up. This film really meanders, and such a glaring pacing problem, alone, is enough to really shake the integrity of this thriller, because even though flaws are quite limited, what missteps there are in storytelling bite pretty firmly, or at least reflect natural limitations to bite. When I say that there are only so many problems with this film, I mean that there really is only so much to say about this film at all, because as well-done as this film is in several ways, at the end of the day, there's only so much that can be done with this intentionally meandering, almost small-scale epidemic thriller, yet that doesn't stop George Romero from trying, perhaps too much. You can feel plenty of ambition within Romero's atmosphere, and sure, the inspiration that ambition brings in proves to be endearing more often than not, yet a desire to carry this film far really shines a light on the areas that are either not carried that far or can never be carried that far, due to natural shortcomings that are perhaps most key in the driving of this film into forgetability. There's not a whole lot worth remembering here, but while this effort has your attention, it keeps a firm grip, and while that grip is not firm enough for what potential there is to be filled about as much as it can be, a fair deal of justice is still done to intriguing subject matter. The telling of this film's story is too formulaic for its own good, and the story concept itself is too minimalist for its own good, yet this subject matter is still worthy, with an intriguing science and premise, backed by some conventional, but nevertheless worthy thematic depth dealing with the public's and government's actions - both noble and questionable - during a crisis. Potential is limited, but it still stands, and it's often done justice by George A. Romero, who, as the interpreter of the Paul McCollough script "The Mad People", turns in some fall-flat dialogue bits, but all but makes up for writing shortcomings with well-rounded drawing of dynamic, interesting and maybe even memorable characters who drive this film, even on paper, and go brought to life by pretty decent performances. About as driven by the visceral thrills of this character-driven subject matter as it is driven by a dramatic core, this film doesn't really give its somewhat sizable cast a whole lot to work with, but most everyone delivers, at least on distinguished chemistry that sells the interactions which prove to be key in the characterization, while individuals' dramatic layers draw you closer to each distinguished character. There's plenty of inspiration, both on paper and on the screen, and that sells much of the character depth that is clearly not prominent enough in potential for the characterization and performances to be enough to bring the final product close to a rewarding point, but remain worth mentioning. Romero's writing efforts and the onscreen talent breathe a fair bit of engagement value into the final product, but you cannot disregard a certain other type of offscreen performance by Romero, who, as director, makes his share of mistakes, and can't even compensate many a glaring technical shortcoming, let alone many a serious story concept shortcoming, but never allows intrigue to abate, whether when he's keeping blandness at bay during the slower spells, or playing up tight scene staging and subtly disturbing violence in order to sell the tension within the action sequences. What Romero does right as director is done very well, and such inspiration, combined with onscreen inspiration, seems like it would be enough to carry the final product pretty far, but alas, there are only so many strengths here, and only so much meat on paper to begin with, so underwhelmingness remains pretty firmly secured. That being said, as surely as the handful of flaws go a long way in reflecting natural shortcomings and securing the film as underwhelming, what strengths there are go quite a distance in reflecting potential, which is done enough justice to make a decent thriller, even if it's not quite juicy enough to be all that memorable. When the madness as settled, you're left with an effort whose predictability, aimless dragging and overambition emphasize natural shortcomings enough for the final product to be ultimately secured as pretty decidedly underwhelming, but not so underwhelming that you can disregard the intriguing and worthy elements to the story concept that are done enough justice by well-rounded characterization, inspired acting and generally effective direction for George A. Romero's "The Crazies" to stand as a decent, if somewhat forgettable and held back disease thriller. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Oct 21, 2012
    Seems like George recycled the most of the plot from his first film. It's a nice bio-terrorist horror film, with horrible acting unfortunately. It's not as good as Night of the Living Dead but it has acquired it's own charm with better characterisation and more satirical emphasis. The anti-government theme is, however, astoundingly well presented. It may not be as clever as the living dead, but it's an entertaining, concise film.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Nov 18, 2011
    Fuck this movie! It took 25 minutes to get interesting in the form of someone losing their shit, the rest of the time it is the boring command center sequences going over the same shit again and again and then finally we get to the one interesting group of "survivors" in the movie. They are the one redeemable thing about this movie, I grow to care for them and then they go insane or "crazy" if you will in their own unique ways. The girls get overly nice, one guy starts making out with his daughter not knowing what he is even doing (it's so nasty and so wrong). The overly ugly member of the group who looks a bit like a gargoyle becomes overly paranoid and then devolves into a state of constantly forgetting everything. This shit is super interesting yet its downplayed with these army scenes and those boring to death command center scenes. What the command center scenes really reminded me of were the oval office scenes in Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space. Important men of power rambling on over-sized walkie-talkies about impending doom and how to control the situation. Was I entertained? For a tenth of the movie I was engaged, the rest of the nine tenths was trying really hard to make me feel so uncomfortable and bored that its like the movie didn't want to be watched by me.
    Greg A Super Reviewer
  • Oct 22, 2010
    I think I watch Romero movies just so I can give them 1 star.
    James A Super Reviewer

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