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I never thought George A. Romero’s THE CRAZIES was his strongest piece of work. Heck, it might even qualify as one of his worst, fitting nicely alongside other Romero stinkers like BRUISER and KNIGHT RIDERS. So count me as one of the people eager and curious to see how an extreme makeover of one of Romero’s weakest would turn out. I didn’t catch the new version of THE CRAZIES in theaters – for the full lowdown on that experience, check out Phil Fasso’s review , which is one that I agree with. But overall, I am crazy for the new and improved version of THE CRAZIES and the DVD, which comes with some interesting extras, is definitely worth your attention.
So what works with THE CRAZIES? Pretty much everything: Story, effects, acting, atmosphere and action are all top-notch. Not once was I pulled out of the movie due to an inexplicable plot development, piss-poor CGI effect or lame one-liner. In short, THE CRAZIES had me captivated from the opening frame, up until the credits rolled. It goes without saying that I was eager to learn more about the production and there are a few bonus features on this DVD that more than satisfy this craving.
“Behind the Scenes with Director Breck Eisner” is a mixed bag and is basically a drawn out vignette of the actors and producers kissing each other’s backsides. To be fair, Eisner is the most informative, doling out tid-bits of the exhaustive script revision process and casting anecdotes. It was also fun to watch some of the actors try to “sell” the concept of THE CRAZIES. How it’s SO SCARY and COULD REALLY HAPPEN.
“Paranormal Pandemics” dives deep into the motivation behind THE CRAZIES virus and how the infected people should look in the movie. The effects team did their due diligence, referring to real medical research about a multitude of different pandemics to find their inspiration. Their efforts to stay away from the traditional “road-rash” zombie face is commendable, and I think it shows in the end result.
“The Crazies Motion Comic Episodes 1 & 2” is a bit of a letdown. I was expecting something a little bit more exciting but instead, what we have here are some early story board ideas around THE CRAZIES with color, choppy movement s and bad dialogue added. It doesn’t always work. But if I was high, drunk or both it’d probably be a hell of a ride.
“The George A. Romero” template is a series of interviews with Ryan Rotten of Shock Till You Drop, Uncle Creepy of Dread Central, Don Coscarelli and director Breck Eisner. All did a commendable job of explaining to the uninitiated why Romero is a legend in the field of horror films. Most interesting was both Rotten and Creepy’s thoughts on the recent spate of re-makes. Creepy believes you have to “bring something new to the table” for a re-make to work. Rotten compared the Hammer era of re-imagining classic horror icons to the similar trend we are seeing today with horror icons of the 70’s and 80’s getting re-makes. Nicely done.
Rounding out the DVD bonus features is an informative audio commentary with director Breck Eisner and some crazy good segments on how the visual effects were pulled off in addition to storyboards that reveal how complex scenes were built. The sound rocks, the transfer is solid (although curious to see how it compares to Blu-ray) and the bonus features are plentiful. Do yourself a favor. Remove THE CRAZIES from your Netflix queue pronto and go buy the DVD. It’s worth it.
– Tim Clark
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