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Directed By George Romero
Starring: Lynn Lowry, Richard France, Richard Liberty

George Romero is one of those directors that isn’t appreciated by the mainstream yet his films have influenced mainstream filmmakers for over 30 years.  Now with the remake craze running so hot it was inevitable that some half assed wannabe director would dare to touch one of Romero’s classics.  The film I speak of is “Dawn of the Dead”.  Yes yes fellow fans let the travesty begin.

With this in mind I wanted to take a look at some lesser known Romero films.  “The Crazies” originally released in 1973 seems to be even more relevant today than when it was first released.  Blue Underground has given us a snazzy new way to enjoy it in the form of a remastered DVD.

The Movie

In a small town in Pennsylvania an experimental germ weapon is accidentally released causing the military to rush in and attempt to quarantine the town.  The weapon code named “Trixie” causes its victims to literally go crazy.

The film kicks in quick and with the exception of a few slow bits in the middle runs at a breakneck pace all the way to the end.  Within ten minutes of the opening credits an elderly woman stabs a military officer several times with a sewing needle and a man kills his wife and kids.  Further in to the film there is a very disturbing scene between an infected man and his daughter.  The daughter, played by Lynn Lowry, is one of the more well played and freaky characters in the film.  Lynn went on to play in several other cult films.

A small group of people work out a plan to try to escape the town and get past the checkpoints while the military in gas masks and chemical outfits have forced citizens into a gym.  Soon most of the people in the gym succumb to the affects of “Trixie” and go crazy.  The gym quickly becomes a room of death and insanity.

A group of scientists set up shop in the school and begin to feverishly work on a cure for the “Trixie” virus before the military decides to go with Plan B, Nuke the entire town!

“The Crazies” is definitely a 70’s movie.  This is a good thing, and a bad thing.  The bad thing is that due to the look of the actors and some of the set pieces several serious bits come off humorous.  The good thing is that this film was made in a time when the world wasn’t so scared of itself and living under an umbrella of political correctness.  Filmmakers from this era weren’t afraid to truly shock and disturb the audience, and their are a few cases in this film where Romero does just that.

The ideas of chemical and biological danger and military law are more relevant ad scary today than even when the film was made.  So “The Crazies” may even be scarier now than when it was first released.  I love George Romero because he isn’t afraid to shock us by killing off a beloved character or ending the movie on a down beat.  There’s two instances where the world could have been saved but circumstances keep it from happening.  These sequences are my favorite in the film and why I love George Romero.  He can have a pretty cynical view of humanity and the future so he isn’t afraid to blow our minds with totally bizarre endings to his films.

“The Crazies” does have its share of silliness here and there and it isn’t made with a lot of style but it’s still a classic.

8/10

The Video

Simply amazing.  The Crazies is a 30 year old film made with a fairly low budget so I didn’t expect much even though this is an HD 1080p presentation.  When I saw the phenomenal job Blue Underground did with this remaster I could hardly believe my eyes.  Colors are strong, the picture is fairly crisp, and there is very little color bleed or compressions artifacts. Blacks look black and the heavy use of white is no problem in this transfer.  There are some instances of grain and detail does drop just a little during night time scenes, but considering the age of the film this is a really nice transfer.

7/10

The Audio

This is a pretty basic audio mix remastered in Dolby Digital Mono.  Nothing special here.  Everything is mixed well with the dialogue coming in loud and clear for the most part.  Obviously everything is center channel loaded but hey, the movie is 30 years old!

5/10

The Bonus Features

The meat of the extras consists of a running audio commentary with Director George Romero.  George comes from the world of commercials and training videos so he is a very efficient filmmaker and very straight forward with his stylistic choices.  In many cases it seems like he would sacrifice a style choice in order to stay under budget and to make his filming day.  Any commentary with one of the greatest genre filmmakers ever is a treat.

Also on the DVD is “The Cult Film Legacy of Lynn Lowry”: Interview with star Lynn Lowry.  She’s proves to be a very interesting interview subject.  She shares stories of making the film and working with Romero and the other actors.  Also included in the interview is information about other movies she made during the 70’s.  Excellent interview.

Poster and still galleries, trailers, George Romero Bio (text), and TV spots are also provided on the DVD.

7/10

The Review
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 5/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 7/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10

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