The Crazies

The Crazies poster

Evans City set in the green farmland of rural western Pennsylvania where the entire population of the small town and the surrounding areas is below 4,000 people, a drop in a much larger ocean of the United States but one which has become corrupted by a contamination in the water supply caused by a downed aeroplane, initially a matter of interest but little consequence until the symptoms begin to manifest in strange behaviour, manic episodes, confusion, and murder.

David a firefighter, he is called to attend a blazing farmhouse where the two children are the only survivors, the father having murdered his wife before turning on them; his pregnant girlfriend Judy a nurse, she is present as the army arrive at Doctor Brookmyre’s office and begin issuing orders, effectively taking control of Evans City and ordering that residents be rounded up and taken to the town hall, that no explanation will be given until all are present.

The Crazies; just another normal day under martial law in Evans City, Pennsylvania.

The fourth film from director George A Romero, released in early 1973 five years after Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies follows the template of that iconic film as a group of determined survivors finds themselves hunted by a faceless, overwhelming enemy though in this case rather than zombies it is forces of the US Army in gasmasks and hazmat suits, sealing off and quarantining Evans City in an operation mishandled from the outset.

Also known as Code Name Trixie, that is the agent which is initially said to an experimental vaccine but which is later admitted to be a bioweapon which causes encephalitic mutation for which there is currently no vaccine, the only two outcomes of infection being death or incurable madness, the uninformed troops on the ground attempting to impose martial law by force as they attempt to round up screaming children and angry parents, at first engendering resentment then understandably meeting increasing resistance.

The Crazies; Judy, David and Clank (Lane Carroll, Will McMillan and Harold Wayne Jones) take to the hills in order to evade the occupying forces.

A bush war between an invading military force and angry farmers armed with shotguns and rifles, The Crazies is the Vietnam War played out in the hills of Pennsylvania with predictably grim results, David and Judy (Will McMillan and Lane Carroll) and their friend Clank (Harold Wayne Jones) just trying to survive while the military machine rolls forward, Doctor Elston Watts (Richard France) the frustrated expert on Trixie forced to the front line to assess the situation when he would be better placed in his laboratory with access to his equipment.

Successfully remade in 2010, the original version of The Crazies remains powerful and distressing, recalling The Andromeda Strain in how the early scenes are shot and edited as the operation begins, the army claiming control but essentially clueless and following standard orders in a situation in which they do not apply, swiftly moving to summary executions while higher up contingencies and a cover story are put in place for a nuclear solution if the situation deteriorates, an entire population wiped out because of an accident then lied about to protect the government who prompted the incident.

The Crazies is available on the Arrow platform now

The Crazies; a martyr protesting occupation or a victim of a mutated virus driven mad, a priest burns himself alive outside his church.



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