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HOW MANY WAYS CAN YOU SPELL ‘D-R-E-C-K’?
In the 37 years since helmer George A. Romero foisted on us the $275,000 sci-fi/horror flick, “Crazies,” not much has changed except the value of the Dollar. The remake, billed as “The Crazies,” by helmer Breck Eisner, cost an estimated $12 million to make. It’s still pretty cheesy. And Romero gets executive producer credit.
Pic climaxes with an atomic bomb blast leveling an Iowa town. Too bad that its negative was not at ground zero. “The Crazies” is that awful. It gets half a star for some unintentionally funny scenes. It loses stars for telegraphing plot moves in advance, failing to build compelling characterizations, totally expected “Deus Ex Machina” resolutions when writers Scott Kosar and Ray Wright painted themselves into corners, crummy continuity, stilted dialogue, and blurry lensing. “The Crazies” uses every cheap trick to create suspense… and fails miserably.
Plot adheres fairly closely to the Romero original. Folks in a small town start going crazy, becoming homicidal maniacs. Source of the problem is quickly traced by Sherriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant, whom we last saw in the atrocious “Perfect Getaway”) to a downed jet in the town’s watershed. How a jet goes down in a small town without apparent damage and without an immediate response is beyond even the suspension of disbelief. This jet went down a week before pic’s action takes place. And no one save the town blowhard noticed.
Exposition is fairly straightforward — too straightforward. As homicidal mania spreads throughout the town, Dutton and his pregnant physician wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) are among the few to escape the contagion. In short order the phones go dead, the internet cuts out, and all civic and civilian means of communication are cut. Then the Army arrives in hazmat gear and starts rounding up people — if they resist they are shot. People suspected of being ill are carted off to a hospital staffed with doctors in biohazard gear. At this point it’s not too difficult to assume that the jet carried some biohazard that has infected the town, which turns out to be the case, courtesy of an unlikely traffic stop of a federal official.
Here we must mention pic’s funniest scene: The local undertaker has been infected. He goes after Sherriff Dutton with a high speed bone saw. Dutton subdues the mad mortuarian but the saw is still running. Propelled across the mortuary floor by its own motor, It heads straight for Dutton’s crotch until his deputy (Joe Anderson VI) steps on the power cord in one of those Deus Ex Machina moments. One wonders why the Army didn’t also cut off the electricity.
There ensues a series of murders. Murder by pitchfork, murder by crazy deputy, murder by crazy hunters, murder by immolation in a truck garage work pit, murder by US Army (lots of those), and murder by a really pissed off pregnant chick in her first trimester. Corpses abound. There are so many that they must be loaded onto trucks.
The requisite number of good guys goes bad. The requisite number of other good guys gets killed, and the two stars live through the final reel. Even the atomic bomb is telegraphed by an Army radio in the penultimate reel.
The purpose of a pic such as “The Crazies” is to create suspense, instill fear in auds, and have them hanging on the edge of their seats for the ending. Fernando Meirelles did a far better job with similar subject matter in the 2008 “Blindness.”
Pic’s ending has sequel written all over it. Ultimately it will depend on the box office that this piece of trash does. Tech credits, other than lensing, are adequate, although one or two lines of dialogue were inaudible. Some of the automobile stunts look as if they were done with model cars. “The Crazies,” which feels a good deal longer than its 101 minute run time, is rated “R” thanks to violence and repeated use of a four letter word for intercourse.
—30—The Crazies on Netflix