Halloween Scene: The Crazies (2010)

I don’t remember much about the original The Crazies by George A. Romero. I watched it a year or two back and just didn’t get that into it. All I remember about the low budget flick is that something happens and it turns a bunch of people into zombie like rage beasts and the government gets involved. Since I didn’t review it on the blog here, I can’t expand any further. Back when I heard about the remake, I was kinda sorta interested in a “I’ll watch it eventually” kind of way, but also not insulted in a “how could they remake this classic!” way.

Frankly, I think this new version is one of the better remakes around. I mentioned that on Twitter and a few friends brought up Carpenter’s Thing and Cape Fear, which I agree with and haven’t seen respectively. In this case, I think they took a story/movie that was fun and interesting and really expanded on it using more money and advanced special effects. The basic story is the same this time around revolving around a small town sheriff and his wife the doctor trying to stay alive as an accident has unleashed this plague that turns normal people into the aforementioned rage beasts. Unlike tradition zombies, these people don’t seem to want to consume human flesh, just murder the crap out of people using anything from guns to rope and even fire.

The rest of this paragraph will get into plot details pretty heavily, so let’s throw up the SPOILER warning. It turns out that what turns out to be a biotoxin is attacking these people because a plane crashed in a nearby swamp that feeds into the town’s water supply which quickly spreads it throughout the town. The crazies start coming out and soon enough the military has started rounding people up in an attempt to quarantine them. The sheriff and the doctor wind up escaping along with the deputy and from there it’s a survival movie of them trying to evade the military, the crazies and any other dangers they might encounter.

And, man, some of these scenes are freaking intense. I won’t give too much away here, but there’s one in a nearby farmhouse that takes place in a nursery that had me cringing from beginning to end. Such a great way to put the whole experience together. There’s also a bit in a morgue that, even though you were expecting it to be creepy, really delivered. Heck, the movie also has the scariest car wash that I’ve ever seen in film. There’s also the scene of the sheriff and deputy in a boat realizing they’re right on top of the downed plane. I have a very strange fear of encountering anything underwater that’s not supposed to be there, so this gave me the willies.

In addition to the scares, I thought the movie was really, really well paced. It started off dropping you right in the middle of the goings on of the small town thanks to a baseball and then smacks you in the face with the impending threat, though they think it’s just a guy being drunk. From there, the threat builds as does the realization that the military is around keeping tabs on the situation. And then it explodes into almost a whole different kind of movie, but in a great way.

There’s also a scope to the movie that you don’t see in a lot of horror films without losing sight of the lead characters. It reminded me a lot of Cloverfield in that way as the characters start off experiencing this all on their own, but then encounter the larger forces at work. A lot of the credit for that goes towards a good script, solid director and enough money to make the whole thing feel and look great.

If you haven’t seen The Crazies because you don’t think you need to see yet another horror movie remake, I recommend giving it a watch (it’s on Netflix Instant, so there’s not much of a barrier there). There’s a great story, good acting, great effects and some really frightening moments. Give it a look!

They Can’t All Be Winners

2009-02-25
2:06:36 am

I haven’t been having a ton of luck lately when it comes to watching movies. Aside from falling asleep about a half hour in exactly no matter how cool the movie, I’ve been picking some duds (though still a few good ones). I couldn’t even get into watching Repo: The Genetic Opera for some reason. I’m not going to pass judgment on that one now because I was really tired, but I wanted to keep our Netflix queue going so I sent it back.

I did not however like an action movie I tried watching last night called Kiltro (2006). I made it about a half hour into that one before I fell asleep. I was hoping for an awesome action movie (as advertised), but instead I got a story about a guy who likes to fight and has a crush on a girl who blah blah blah. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I want my action movies (and my giant monster movies for that matter) to be less talking and more destruction, unless they happen to be actually funny like Police Story 1 and 2. Again, I don’t really consider this a review, because I didn’t watch the whole movie, just letting you action fans out there know not to waste your time.

I also watched most of a movie called Hickey and Boggs (1972) which has a lot going for it in that The Warriors writer Walter Hill wrote it and Bill Cosby stars as a tough guy private detective along with Robert Culp who also directs. I didn’t have any problem with this movie, though it is a bit slow, I just haven’t finished it yet because it’s kind of long and it expires from Netflix on March 1. It’s in the same vein as Dirty Harry and is pretty cool, so I might finish it up today. Oh, and if you were wondering, yes it’s kind of weird seeing Bill Cosby as a tough guy, but he also pulls it off really well. It’s fun to watch. Again, not a real review, but just some thoughts.

That being said, I do have four ACTUAL reviews:

POPCORN (1991)

Man, the 90s were a weird time for horror movies. You’re looking at a time after the slasher glut greatly hindered the genre, but before Scream made them cool again. Popcorn is kind of a weird movie. The basic premise is that a college film club decides to hold a movie marathon to raise some money. But this isn’t any movie marathon, they’re showing movies with a gimmick like smell-o-vision or shock-o-rama. As such, they need an old movie theater to show their flicks in and a crazy old guy to help out (and then completely disappear) in the form of Ray Walston (My Favorite Martian). If you really liked the beginning of Scream 2 where there’s all kinds of craziness happening in a movie theater, then this is right up your alley as it seems as though a counterculture guy from back in the day wants his weirdo movie to be seen so much he’s willing to kill people for it (that’s not exactly the plot, but I don’t want to give too much away). There was enough quirky charm to keep me watching even though the movie isn’t awesome by any means. So, if that sounds interesting (oh and the fact that someone gets killed via giant fake mosquito), check it out.

THE ROCKER (2008)

I was really surprised with how much I liked this Rainn Wilson flick. I was also surprised with the huge number of cast members I not only recognized, but knew by name (for the most part). Wilson stars as a drummer who got kicked out of what became the biggest band of the 80s right before they blew up. Now, in modern times, Rainn’s down on his luck, but ends up joining his nephew’s band, which garners its own huge levels of success. Aside from the cast that includes Christina Applegate, Emma Stone, Jeff Garland, Jane Lynch (from 40 Year Old Virgin and a hundred other things), Jason Sudekis, Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, Jane Krakowski, Bradley Cooper, Lonny Ross (30 Rock), Demetri Martin and Aziz Ansari, I was really impressed with how well they pull off some moments that could have come off as cheesy. There’s also one part where Rainn offers up the emo lead singer some songwriting advice (paraphrase “let’s speed it up and switch it to I’m NOT bitter) and he actually takes it without flinching. Sure it’s kind of similar to a scene in That Thing You Do, but in this case the lead singer just decided to go for it instead of being a d-bag. The Rocker is one of those flicks that seems like it either went up against some huge other movie or their producers didn’t have the juice to put much/any advertising cash behind it, because there’s no reason that this shouldn’t have done way better (though I said the same thing after seeing Speed Racer, which I still really enjoyed, so what do I know).

I also watched a couple movies all the way through that I wasn’t really into and those were Bangkok Dangerous (2008) and The Crazies (1973). I’ll be honest, the only reason I wanted to watch BD is because I’ve laughed a million times at the Best of The Wicker Man video on YouTube starring BD’s Nic Cage. Man that’s a funny video. You can get to it here after reading an AWESOME article I wrote about horror movie remakes for ToyFare. Unfortunately, BD was no where near as ridiculous as I was hoping it would be (I mean, COME ON, it’s Nic Cage as an assassin!). Instead, it’s a pretty run-of-the mill story about an assassin who has all kinds of rules, but is starting to not want to be an assassin anymore. You’ve seen it a million times and this doesn’t really offer up anything new, unlike Grosse Pointe Blank which is completely awesome.

The Crazies (1973) is the first non-zombie George Romero movie I’ve ever seen. It was okay, but not all that interesting. Instead of focusing on characters and how they react to these crazy situations, it seemed like Romero was more focused on showing a lot of dudes in white hazmat-type suits rounding people up after a virus that makes people go bat-poop nutso, gets released in a small town. There’s nothing all that wrong, really, it just didn’t grab my attention like my favorite Romero (and horror) flick Dawn of the Dead does.