When it comes to Halloween lists and recommendations, I always love to go for underrated or lesser known flicks. We all watch Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and/or A Nightmare on Elm Street around Halloween time–so why not add something different to your rotation? So for the letter C, I’ve chosen the criminally underrated remake of George A. Romero’s The Crazies.
Now, why should you add The Crazies to your Halloween rotation? I’ve got three reasons right here:
- It’s A Perfectly Crafted Remake
This isn’t to say that it’s a perfect film, what I mean by this is that it’s a rare example of how to successfully take on a remake. I’ve never seen the original–so I can’t speak for difference in quality (although I hear the remake is better)– but it’s certainly different in the story department, which is exactly what a remake should do. Personally when I see any remake, I’m looking for something new. I’m looking for an inspired take on an existing property. George Romero’s The Crazies is a film that’s focused more on the Governments point-of-view, but this remake actually decides to switch the point-of-view over to the citizens of the town, so now we’re seeing the chaos at ground level. It’s such a minor change to the original film that completely changes the character dynamics and pacing. Turning it into a survival horror film adds more of an urgency and tension to the storytelling, which director Breck Eisner nails.
2. Compelling Characters
Horror is a very gimmicky genre, so for the most part your typical horror film isn’t worried about telling a story about characters, it’s telling a story about scares. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but every so often you can get a horror film that is able to give you genuinely compelling characters. The characters in The Crazies aren’t incredibly fleshed out, but you buy into them and their survival. A lot of the tension in this film comes from you being genuinely scared for the well being of Timothy Olyphant and his group of survivors. This isn’t only thanks to Ray Wright and Scott Kosar’s ability to write likable, relatable characters–but also thanks to the stacked cast on deck. Timothy Olyphant commands the screen like always, in fact it’s very impressive that he’s playing a Sheriff and yet you never once think of Justified. Olyphant really embodies his characters, plus he has the likes of Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson, and Danielle Panabaker to bounce off of. They’re not exactly A-List actors, but they came to set and gave it their all. Between the writing and the dedicated actors, it truly creates a compelling cast of characters.
3. Non-Stop Tension and Excitement
This movie is action packed and not a single beat of that action is wasted. Every single frame has you on the edge of your seat. As I mentioned above, the tension in the action comes from you worrying about the characters–but all that aside, Breck Eisner just has an incredible knack for directing action. The sound design, editing and stunt work make for–no bullshit–some of the best action that I’ve ever seen in a horror film. Each action scene is more riveting than the last, with the stakes constantly high and characters constantly in danger. For example, there’s a fight scene between Timothy Olyphant and two of the Crazies in his house. It’s one of the smaller set pieces, but it’s a scene that’s constantly shocking you–as well as showcasing Breck Eisner’s ability to make you believe that his leading man can die at any moment. It’s exactly that principle that makes this one of the more engaging survival horror films out there.
Well, I hope I’ve given you enough about The Crazies while still keeping you somewhat in the dark, because it’s a movie that surprises you from the first frame to the last. As I said, I like to use Halloween to shine the spotlight on underrated horror gems–this being one of my go-to’s every year. I promise that if you watch this flick, it’ll become one of yours too.