Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Crazies on DVD

I have to tell you, I am a big fan of George Romero, so much so that I own virtually every movie he ever made. It all started with Night of the Living Dead, the rest is history. This isn’t to say I love everything that has come from the Romero camp; I haven’t, the one I thought had potential, but was a huge let down was the original 1973 version of The Crazies. While there were certainly shocking moments in the original, for me, it fell short.

It was some time ago when I saw the original trailers for the remake of The Crazies. I was disappointed when I found out Romero wasn’t going to be directing it, but the faithfulness to the original looked promising. With the direction of Breck Eisner, and his commitment to Romero, I was hopeful.

The Crazies has a unique plot that takes place in the little town of Ogden Marsh Iowa. This small quaint town loves coming out to watch a community baseball game, and everyone knows everyone else. The sheriff is a young man who has grown up there and has a deep passion for this town. After the crash of a military plane carrying waste from a government experiment, a virus impacts the town and the normal, good, God loving people of Ogden Marsh take on violent attributes. While resembling the Romero zombies of the past, there is enough of a difference that keeps me from categorizing them as such.

The Crazies is more contemporary than the original. One of the things I appreciated is some of the detail in the story missing in the original. We see a credible job of acting, but the primary difference is the story. While some of the horror of the original, a relationship between a father and daughter with sexual overtones are left out, there is enough horror that has the viewer thinking. Virtually everything from the cinematography, to the editing is better than the original. There are things that have this version working, among those, are the examination as to who the real crazies are. One of the things I think Eisner does a better job of than Romero in the original is the questioning of the government and the power they have. We question not only their power, but their purpose in the execution of that power.

It is almost as if Eisner is presenting an Anabaptist point of view. Anabaptist is a religious belief system started by Menno Simmons and others that promote a concept many have heard of known as; The Separation of Church and State. In this belief is the ideal that the state, or government is inherently evil and does not always react to the best interest of the people is supposedly represents. Eisner and the story of Romero certainly raise this question. The question of does the state, does the government really care about the population it supposedly serves. Ultimately, we see a battle of good and evil, a battle where the good people of Ogden Marsh, are impacted by the evil around them. It ignores much of the religious belief that all things always work out, and looks at the reality that it rains on the just and the unjust, and sometimes good people pay the consequences and price of the actions of others. This is the real horror presented by The Crazies. As nice as our surroundings may be, there are situations or people that impact us. The reality of bad things happening despite our efforts is real for many who have homes in foreclosure, or lost jobs, they will understand the premise presented in The Crazies. It is a place where the sometimes empty answers and help from the religious community may be questioned. People need more than a continuation of their surroundings and difficulty, they need action. There is a passage in the bible that says so much, it says something like, “If you see someone in need and have the means to help them, and refuse to do so, how can you say you have the love of God within you. Let’s stop saying we love people and start showing it by our actions.”

In the true sense of Horror, The Crazies delivers in many ways. Unfortunately, in many others, it doesn’t. The story is still not as developed as nice as I would have liked, and while it is better than the original, it still falls a little short. One of the things this DVD does do though is it delivers on the special features. The special features, along with the movie make it a worthwhile purchase for fans of Romero or Horror. There are ample features, including the long lost sinful pleasure of at least 4 Easter Eggs that I found. For those that don’t know an Easter Egg is a hidden special feature. I won’t tell you where they are, but will say, go through all of the menu’s play with the control bars on your remote, with a little effort, you will find them.

If like me, you will be questioning the reality around you after seeing this movie. That is okay, just remember, sometimes the questions raised in horror, especially good horror like this intends to do just that, scare you. Not per say against the boogie man or the zombie like creature around us, but the things we are supposed to trust and believe in. In that regard, The Crazies delivers.

On a scale of 1 – 10, for the 7th inning break that may bring about bad events in a baseball game, I give a somewhat satisfying 7.

To see the trailer for the movie, just click on the following video. If the video don’t appear, just click on the link:

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