How's this for reviewing efficiency? A double review of the original and the remake of The Crazies. Buckle up.
The plot of both movies focuses on a man and woman, a couple who find themselves in a town where people are beginning to act strangely, a result of a crashed plane carrying dangerous chemicals. The government steps in and attempts to first contain, then eliminate the infected people, with brutal results. The couple, along with a small party, move through the city and attempt to escape the madness.
The original film, directed by horror legend George Romero, is a fairly typical horror story these days: infection, deaths, hysteria, many many more deaths, and a morbid ending. While predictable, though, the story and the acting are able to carry it enough that it's plenty entertaining.
One of the convenient things about this story concept is that it doesn't demand that the movie create fantastic special effects. In fact, part of what makes the story compelling is its utter realism. You don't have to believe in the living dead or alien invasions or ghosts to be able to buy into the concept of the story. It's simply a town where everyone is losing their minds. Additionally, this non-difference between infected people and regular people is a precipitating factor in one of the turning points late in the movie.
The Last Word: The original flick is definitely enjoyable. It obviously suffers from unexceptional special effects, but it survives that shortcoming to still be an entertaining movie.
The remake of Romero's original can best be described as "modern." The basic story is consistent, but the execution is considerably darker, and things turn morbid quickly. It's a fairly predictable adjustment of the old story, incorporating a lot more panic, fear, and bloody, bloody murder. It's got my brother's favorite actor Timothy Olyphant, who I laugh at because his name is from Lord of the Rings.
But seriously, for a remake, this version has a pretty different tone. It's heavy-handed, violent, and gory. That's not to say that it's not enjoyable; it has its place. But in the modern translation, some of the finesse of the original is lost.
The Last Word: A tense, action-packed ride that follows two people through an increasingly unstable world. It's not going to blow your mind, but if you want to just curl up and be frightened, you're in business.
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