Some remakes pay perfunctory respect to the source material, but THE CRAZIES DVD release does more than that. It is a proper homage to the man who made it possible, George A. Romero, and the sub-genre of political horror that he pioneered. There amid the usual deleted scenes and how-we-did-it featurettes, is THE GEORGE A. ROMERO TEMPLATE, a solid love-fest for the grand old man himself, with the director of the remake, Breck Eisner, and a slew of fan boys celebrating the daring nature of Romeros cinematic subtext, as well as his flair for setting zombies rampaging across the landscape. Here is a succinct but, ahem, dead-on, celebration of Romero, the filmmaker and the icon, who creates intelligent, uncompromising stories that are relevant, yet timeless because they deal with human nature in the face of difficult situations.
The difficult situation here is an epidemic that strikes Owen Marsh, a sleepy little town in the Midwest. The friendly place becomes a maelstrom of terror as neighbors who have known each other all their lives suddenly become unhinged and homicidal before succumbing to the unknown disease that rots their minds and then their bodies. The local sheriff (Timothy Olyphant) and his fetching doctor wife (Radha Mitchell) are among the last of the non-infected, which is a state of affairs that leads to being chased by both their newly hostile neighbors, but also the government troops sent in to contain the outbreak.
Excellent performances, a smart script, and direction from Eisner that understands both the terror and the absurdity of the situation makes for a horror film that works on every level, including the one that lurks in the subconscious where the deepest darkest fears lie.
The best of the other featurettes is a two-part slightly animated graphic novel, dubbed a motion comic, that considers the other residents of Owen Marsh as they cope with the plague. The slightly surreal look of the graphic universe does nothing to mitigate the horror, in fact, it exacerbates it in all the best ways.
The other featurettes include the breezily informative pair about the looks of the victims, PARANORMAL PANDEMICS and MAKE-UP MASTERMIND ROB HALL IN ACTION. In he former, Rob Hall discusses how he picked symptoms from real medical conditions for the victims, and then hit on the idea novel and suitably disconcerting idea of giving them too much life rather than the classic Romero zombie-esque too little of the stuff. Its that simulacrum of reality, like the idea of a town turning on itself, that helps explain the reason that the horror in the film is so very creepy. Fans of horror prosthetics will find the specifics of the make-up design fascinating, particularly how they artists got the popping veins just right. In the latter, theory becomes practice as an actor is recreated in Halls vision with explanatory snippets of how its achieved.
And for the die-hard CGI geeks (Im one), theres a perfectly splendid featurette, SPECIAL EFFECTS IN MOTION, dedicated to showing the step-by-step layering in of effects for the truck trying to outrun the explosion.
THE CRAZIES DVD amplifies the experience of the film in the best way possible. More than worth renting, this ones worth adding to the permanent DVD collection.