Saturday, 17 July 2010

No.44 : The Crazies 1973 & 2010

Well here’s a treat for our loyal readership, yes both of you, it’s a double bill of all things ‘The Crazies’. Don’t expect this kind of double barrelled excitement on a regular basis although a three letter definitive double of ‘The Fly’ & ‘The Fog’ could just happen. Although probably not.

I had never heard of ‘The Crazies’ franchise until I recently saw a TV ad for the new version. This consisted of a load of screaming people and then an earnest voiceover announce ‘THE CRAZIES’ - "I wonder what that’s about" I sarcastically said to the long suffering wife. Rubbish looking or not I thought I’d have a look for this quest and was pleasantly surprised. I then found it was a remake of a 1973 George Romero film and I was unpleasantly disappointed. Still one out of two ain’t bad as a downsized Meatloaf might say.

Both films, as you’d expect, have basically the same premise : the military tries to contain the outbreak of a virus that makes people crazy and homicidal. We follow the lead through his attempts to avoid capture before a downbeat ending. There are differences along the way but the essence is the same with the values and talent being the deciding factor between the relative success and failure of the two films.

The original sees a fireman and his nurse girlfriend getting it on. He’s a bit scared to have some loving as she’s pregnant and he’s worried about getting his cock bitten by the baby. She dances around in the buff for a while in one of the film’s few highlights before he’s called to a big fire. A man has gone crazy and has killed his wife, toasted his kids and burnt his house down. Meanwhile the preggers nurse has been called into work to find loads of guys in haz-mat suits barking orders and acting badly.

We soon learn that a military plane went down in the nearby hills and its bio-weapon has escaped. As the population start to exhibit signs of the virus all hands get to work finding a cure while the president’s finger hovers over the ‘nuke’ button. The local population, who seem very red neck, take up arms against the military and shoot up plenty, spoiling their nice white suits. Will our heroes survive and can the virus be contained?

Meanwhile in 2010 the sheriff out of ‘Deadwood’ has been cunningly recast as a sheriff in a small town. He’s got a doctor wife who’s pregnant - eat that 70’s fireman - and a bit of a problem at the baseball field. A local man has gone crazy, well he’s more sleepwalking, and the sheriff has to shoot him down in the middle of the game - one foul ball too many methinks.

He’s a bit upset but more so when other people start acting mental and filling up his jail. He does some digging and soon finds a massive underwater plane and a dead ejected pilot and realises that bio-weapon transport has not improved one inch in 27 years. He figures the water is tainted with the toxin and the trail of crazy people follows the water’s path into town. With this information in hand he tries to shut down the water but is stopped by the mayor and then the military who shove everyone into the high school and strap them to beds.

Before long it kicks off big style with crazies, the military and local vigilantes all shooting the place up. With no regard for quarantine our man heads out of town with his flaky deputy and foxy wife with a slight niggle that the craziness may be in one of them already.

This is a rare occasion where the remake totally trumps the original. The idea is a good one but in the original the ‘crazy’ aspect is hardly seen in favour of lots of middle aged men shouting a lot and looking at test tubes to a soundtrack of annoying military drummimg. In the remake the cure isn’t touched on with containment being the military’s focus. The sequel also does a good job in keeping you unnerved as to who is crazy and who is just having a really bad day.

Both films didn’t really sell the motivation of the main character too well. I may be a soft touch but if I were a sheriff told by the army that there was a lethal virus about I wouldn’t be trying to get out of town. Both films also have a high kill rate with the former probably having the most. Virtually all of these were gun shots though and it seems like the local marksmen have a good chance at the Olympics. The newer film has a lot of inventive gore and a couple of scenes where the jeopardy was really well handled to the point I couldn’t see a way out.

The first film clearly suffered from a lack of budget with amateur actors delivering some horrendously crappy dialogue. The second is a no expense spared high tech extravaganza with a lot of similarities to the ‘Resident Evil’ films with the on screen text and satellite shots all present and correct.

You aficionados out there may scream that the remake is a triumph of style over substance but when you are dealing with a crazy person plague I’ll take all the style going.

THE Tag Line : Modern Master Triumphs Over 70’s Shite

1973 - 53% 2010 - 74%

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