Please bear with me while I take a short pause before returning to lessons in backyard chicken husbandry. I had a strange weekend and don’t feel like being all farmingly educational at the moment. I promise I’ll return for your last lesson shortly.
Typically, I’m not a big horror flick nut although I do enjoy the more Hitchcockian fare. I need cerebral; it’s just how I am made. Because of this, I cannot play Bunco or Farmville (yes, I know many of you like both of these things, more power to you, I truly wish I was as easily amused, I’d be a happier person). Once I got past the age where playing Uncle Wiggly still moved my board pieces, my favorite game growing up was “Facts in Five”, a “Game of Knowledge”. The rules were not complicated but the play could be. Drawn cards denoted classes and categories, five bag-picked letters established the answers’ beginning consonant and/or vowel, and each player was given five minutes to fill out the grid these random draws created. 19th century authors? Impressionist painters? Foreign phrases? It wasn’t easy; it was challenging. I like challenging.
So how all this brought me to the theater line ready to buy tickets to “The Crazies” I have no idea. As I said, I had a strange, read rough, weekend and perhaps I needed some escapism. Or it could be my father’s fault. He was a huge B horror movie fan and anything from Hammer Fims, George Romero, or William Castle took him, my mother, and me to the drive-in. I was supposed to be sleeping in the back set. I was not sleeping in the back seat.
Christ, maybe that’s what’s wrong with me. I saw too many dismembered limbs hanging from doors or attacking people on their own. I witnessed too much brain-eating, and without pungent Mexican spices (hat tip Jon Henner, turn to page 147 of Rick Bayless’ “Authentic Mexican”).
Did I like it? Yes and no. I thought the subtext of a sneaky government willing to destroy entire populations, thinking what they were doing was for the “greater good” was/is topical and applicable to many events and situations we face as a country today. One doesn’t need to release biological weaponry to make a community and country unstable. Truly, just take one part racist fear-mongering, another part inadequate healthcare system, and add a soupcon of poverty and foreclosures and I’ll betcha a nickel to a donut that the Crazies will start appearing, most of them with the same requisite blank lost stares as the a-flick-ted.
Was this subtext as intellectually challenging as a Rubik’s Cube? No, but it’s not supposed to be.
“The Crazies” stars Timothy Olyphant, Mr. Yummy from “Catch and Release” fame as the small Iowa town’s sheriff (incidentally, the original film is set in Pennsylvania, I think Iowa’s high fructose corn syrup speeds up biological weaponry so better setting executive producer George Romero). His of-course-pregnant wife, played by Radha Mitchell, is the town’s physician. The movie opens, after a brief foreshadow, on a bucolic Iowa baseball field where everyone loves each other and the real America where they live, and the values-filled offspring that are having a fun softball game where no parent would dare fight with a referee or another parent or bully their own kid because said kid throws like a girl. Enter Crazy Farmer Guy carrying a double barrel shotgun.
What do they kill with
But I digress.
Poor Handsome Sheriff Dutton has to shoot (with a handgun, better choice for quick drawing) Crazy Farmer Guy much to the horror (it is a horror film) of the moments-ago naïve Iowans. Next thing you know Crazies are being led to Dr Dutton’s office by concerned and bewildered family members. Then duck hunters find a downed plane in a swamp.
Are there a lot of
Enter mean government special op troops in gas masks armed with badass weaponry and flamethrowers. Score one for Romero. Every good zombie movie should have at least a few flamethrowers (they were sort of zombies, I saw no brain eating. Maybe they were vegan zombies). Heartless troops make Iowans scared, separate families into cattle trucks or into labs (Nazi reference George, really?). Ooooh, here comes a Crazy wanting to see what’s on the slabs. He has a pitchfork. I don’t see good things coming from this.
The rest of the movie is filled with a lot of running and hiding, Crazy encounters, and gore, though not as much as one expects from these things. “Zombieland” which I loved had tons more gore but it was funny. “The Crazies” would have benefited from some funny. It wasn’t even all that campy like “Planet Terror” which I adored as well.
Oh wait, maybe I do like mindless horror flicks and I’ve been pretending to be all elite and I’m a real American after all. Who knew?
To conclude, and without throwing a bunch of spoilers out here, I’m not sure if “The Crazies” was worth the price of theater tickets. It is, however, worth a rental if you have a large enough screen at home for adequate mom and son massacre viewing.
So remember, don’t trust the government, test your water regularly, and invest in flamethrowers.