Anchor Bay / 2010 / 101 min. / R
Director Breck (son of Michael) Eisner comes back from his expensive, 2005 studio flop, SAHARA, with this much more modest remake of George Romero's 1973 THE CRAZIES. If this film is any indication, Eisner is a lot better off sticking to smaller budget genre fare like this than helming $100 million behemoths.
Romero's super-low-budget original was really a variation on the zombie fare he's been chewing on for forty years. Instead of the undead, THE CRAZIES featured the populace of a small town infected by a government-induced plague that's turning people into crazed killers. Back in 1973, conspiracy overtones linked to our involvement in Vietnam infused Romero's tale. In this update, the setting has been moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa, but the government is still involved. The key players this time around are small town sheriff Dave Dutton ( Timothy Olyphant), his local doctor wife, Judy ( Radha Mitchell) and his Deputy Clank ( Joe Anderson). As the local authority, Dutton at first tries to deal with the situation. But soon the military and hazmat-suited government types overwhelm the town, as they heavy-handedly try to quarantine anyone who might be infected.
Eisner does an efficient job setting up the horror/action set pieces. His opening is especially unsettling, as a bucolic, high school baseball game turns suddenly deadly. When the government forces move in, the scale of the movie is amped up, and Dutton, his wife and deputy realize their fate is as endangered by the military as it is by their infected, homicidal neighbors. While the horror elements of the movie are effectively executed, Eisner is somewhat hampered by a script by Scott Kosar and Ray Wright, that trades sustained suspense for easy scares and features stock characters speaking often stilted dialogue.
Still, the production values on THE CRAZIES are pretty impressive for a movie of this ilk, and Eisner keeps things visually interesting from beginning to end, aided by the slick cinematography of Maxime Alexandre. Mark Isham's understated score accentuates the horror. And while there's nothing truly outstanding in any of the performances, Olyphant is an effective leading man.
This VC-1 encoded 1080p transfer has a rich look from beginning to end. Color balance and saturation is impressive for a movie that goes from pastoral, small town day exteriors to shadowy night scenes filled with fire, blood and menace.
The PCM 5.1 sound mix is clear and precise throughout, with effective use of surround channels.
Commentary track by Breck Eisner is informative and exhaustive. Clearly, he came prepared to fill in the fans on what went into the making of his film.
"Behind the Scenes with Breck Eisner" is basically a ten-minute promo that would feel right at home as HBO filler.
"The Crazies Motion Comics" is something of a prequel in comic book form.
"Paranormal Pandemics" takes a look at the make-up and visual effects.
"Visual Effects in Motion" looks at the process of some of the trickier shots in the film.
"Storyboards" give the viewer a look at pre-viz conceptual art.
There's also a Photo Gallery and several Trailers for your viewing pleasure.
Better than it has any right to be, THE CRAZIES is certainly worth a look by anyone who has a taste for this kind of cinematic meal.
The Crazies on Blu-ray
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.