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THE CRAZIES
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Breck Eisner

Starring:
Timothy Olyphant
Radha Mitchell
Joe Anderson

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
The people of Ogden Marsh go batshit crazy when their water supply becomes contaminated. A group of non-crazies attempt to escape the city limits, prompting plenty of enjoyable action and horror sequences to go around.
Is it good movie?
THE CRAZIES is one enjoyable horror flick, and one of the few remakes out there that seems to surpass its predecessor in terms of quality and overall effectiveness. I know George A. Romero fans won't want to hear that, but it's true. Director Breck Eisner manages to create one hell of a thrill ride in THE CRAZIES, filling it with a number of scary and intense little sequences, stringing them along one right after another to the point where it becomes almost unbearable to watch... in a good way.

Timothy Olyphant stars as the town's sheriff, and one of the few who shows no sign of being "crazy." He does a pretty fantastic job as the film's hero, bringing the right amount of seriousness and comedic relief to the film, while equally looking badass when throwing down on some "crazy" bastard. Radha Mitchell plays his wife, the town's doctor, and one of the first to figure out their follow neighbors are all "crazy." She's there alright, but can't say she does all that much. She does do her fair share of screaming and looking scared, and does it pretty well.

The real scene stealer is Joe Anderson, deputy to the town's sheriff. He's an unlikely hero, one that you assume is incompetent, but as the film progresses, you come to realize he's tougher, smarter, and more of a soldier than you'd ever expect. Anderson does a great job in the role and I hope we see more of this guy in the future.

In a way, THE CRAZIES is like a zombie film where the people aren't dead, but they still possess the "brain dead" mentality of zombies, turning into mindless maniacs with a thirst for killing "non-crazies." However, if you're looking for mass "crazies" rampaging throughout the film (like a Romero zombie movie), you'll be mildly disappointed. These "crazies" don't attack and run around in giant packs, there's hardly ever "non-crazies" versus an entire town of "crazies," rather it's mostly "non-crazies" versus a few "crazies" at a time.

That's actually one of the only faults of the film, the other being a slow stretch in the middle where the "non-crazies" are on foot attempting to walk to safety. Iowa is a big flat place apparently, and there's gonna be a lot of walking to get anywhere. I get it... but showing how slow and long it's going to take isn't quite necessary. Then again, the scare sequences that bookend the nothingness are all extremely awesome, so all is forgiven.

And that's where the film shines: there's a number of little sequences strung throughout the film that are so well done and thought out that you can't help but like the film as a whole because of them, regardless of any other issues you may have (like the abundance of boo-scares). From the opening baseball game sequence, to the burning down of the house, to the visit to the morgue, to the car wash, and finally, the abandoned truck stop. There are others, of course, but those are the few that stood out to me as being the most memorable. Add those all together, and you get one hell of an enjoyable scare flick.

Video / Audio
Audio: The film rocks hard in Dolby 5.1 with an optional audio commentary with director Breck Eisner. The sound is pretty phat here, as there's plenty of screams, explosions, and the soothing melody of Johnny Cash during the opening credits.

Video: Presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.40:1), THE CRAZIES has a uniquely dark look during the scary parts, but also before the shit hits the fan.... probably due to the cool lighting and extra grittiness. I dug it.

The Extras
The DVD shines in the amount of extras provided, rockin' more special features than most newly released DVDs do these days.

Behind the Scenes with Breck Eisner: Your standard making-of THE CRAZIES featurette with interviews with the cast and crew about how fun the movie was to make and how everyone was great.

Paranormal Pandemics: The "crazies" look are based on actual diseases and not zombies, keeping them as real as possible. Rob Hall, the director, and producers explain how they created the look of the "crazies" based on real pandemics, and how what happens in the film could actually happen.

The George A. Romero Template: Director Don Coscarelli, STYD's Ryan Rotten, and Dread Central's Uncle Creepy talk about how great and groundbreaking George A. Romero is as a horror director, discussing not only THE CRAZIES but his other zombies films as well. Interesting little feature, too bad they only fronted enough dough to show footage from NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and not a single clip from any of Romero's other films.

Make-Up Mastermind: Rob Hall in Action: A look at the Almost Human f/x company making all the cool practical make-up and effects as seen in the film. Pretty cool little feature, especially if you're into seeing how movie magic is made.

THE CRAZIES Motion Comic Episodes 1&2: This great little extra features 2 motion comics on the back story of what happened before the film kicks off, featuring the pilot, and how the first of the "crazies" became "crazy." I'm a fan of motion comics (like comics that move, but aren't really animated), and this one is pretty top notch--plus it actually adds to the story of THE CRAZIES.

Visual Effects in Motion: Not really a feature, more like showing the original sequence without visual CGI effects, then showing the sequences with the CGI effects added in. Kind of boring, but kind of cool at the same time.

Storyboards and the Screenplay (DVD-rom): Want to read the script and see the storyboards? Slap this disc in your computer and make it happen!

Trailers & a Photo Gallery: If seeing the film wasn't enough, you get theatrical trailers (3), a teaser trailer, TV spots (10), and the trailer for the Motion Comics. Plus: a photo gallery, and trailers for other Anchor Bay films!

Easter Egg: Yup, a DVD proud to have some hidden goodies. Have fun finding out what (and where) this Easter Egg is hidden!

Last Call
THE CRAZIES is a scary, intense, and action packed horror film that's better than it probably should have been. While there wasn't a ton of "crazies" running around causing havoc, the one-on-one "crazies" scare sequences were quite effective, inducing plenty of edge-of-your-seat thrills and chills from beginning to end (thank you boo-scares!). Add in the extra-packed DVD with over 90 minutes of featurettes and goodies, and you have yourself a solid horror flick worth picking up and adding to your collection.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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