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By Emily Booth, Tuesday 13th June 2017 Political and military unrest have always concerned a certain George A. Romero. Now famous for pretty much inventing the zombie film and lacing it with compelling social commentary, Romero single-handedly gave the zombie its metaphorical quality, one that can change depending on how you interpret the dribbling dead. But opposing the doomed zombie army is a more ominous force, one that is entirely human: the military. Romero's films often delve into this fear of martial law, none more so than his 1973 film, The Crazies, which isn't exactly a zombie film, but nevertheless shares many qualities with his subsequent film, Dawn of the Dead, in 1978. This weekend, we're showing the popular remake of Romero's The Crazies.
In a small, sunny, friendly town in Iowa, normality comes crashing down when a harmless baseball game is interrupted by a man striding onto the pitch carrying a shot gun. But it's just the local drunk having a bad day, right? Wrong. There's something weird about his eyes, and it's not just intoxication. Local Sheriff, David (Timothy Olyphant), begins to notice other townspeople acting strangely; they're oddly vacant, something that's not gone unnoticed by the town doctor, David's wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell). However, they soon realise that these vacant expressions turn into outright, homicidal madness after a local farmer sets fire to his own house, killing his wife and child for no reason whatsoever.
Upon discovering the wreckage of a military plane and a dead pilot in the river, David wonders, could it be something in the water supply turning the townspeople crazy? The sheriff has discovered a major military mistake and now, thanks to surveillance satellites, his discovery is instantly known to the military who initiate Plan B: containment.
Here the horror is twofold. You don't want to catch the 'crazy disease', but you also don't want to be at the hands of the military; they won't think twice about gunning you down. This film is as much about fear of disease as it is about fear of authority and the loss of control either of these agents impose.
When we think 'horror film', we think dark, brooding, confined places in the dead of night that evoke our most primal fear: fear of the dark. The Crazies, however, does something completely different and as a result, has a very unsettling effect. The sun beats down, the space is vast and empty, you can run - but you can't hide. It is in this vastness that the victims are, ironically, the most trapped. Director Breck Eisner specifically created sets and chose locations that provided little shelter or places to hide; there isn't a tree to be seen for miles and miles, just an endless horizon. Sure, you can run - but where to?
Catch the infectious network premiere of The Crazies, on Friday 16th at 9pm.
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