THE CRAZIES (2010; DVD; Anchor Bay) - Home Theater Forum and Systems -

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post #1 of 2 Old 07-03-10, 02:42 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
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THE CRAZIES (2010; DVD; Anchor Bay)

Studio Name: Anchor Bay (Overture Films/Participant Media)
MPAA Rating: R
Disc/Transfer Information: 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen; Region 1 (U.S.) Release
Tested Audio Track: English Dolby Digital 5.1
Director: Breck Eisner
Starring Cast: Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell



Although the 2010 variant of The Crazies helmed by Sahara’s Breck Eisner is a re-telling of the George A. Romero original, it really doesn’t feel like a Romero blueprint underneath – it feels more like perhaps something Wes Craven would have done as a follow-up to his original Hills Have Eyes; although there is an extra feature on this disc that explores the Romero blueprint for this, and discusses all things Night of the Living Dead as well as Dawn and Day, to me this just didn’t feel like a re-imagined Romero “classic.” In my book, that was done most appropriately by Zack Snyder when he re-imagined Dawn and kept a good deal of the paranoid feel between the characters at the shopping mall that the original boasted.

I am not too familiar with Romeo’s original Crazies, and I will have to revisit the original on Blu-ray at some point in the near future, but I can recall being intrigued when this one hit theaters and then subsequently home video. I enjoyed both the Dawn of the Dead and Hills Have Eyes remakes, and that’s saying something because I normally don’t think they ever get them right in the least sense (a good example is the travesty that became The Amityville Horror “remake;” if you want to see the absolute epitome of inaccuracy, give that a rent), and at least from a distance, The Crazies appeared as though it may follow in these footsteps. Alas, the final product was good – but not really great, and I came out of it with some sense of disappointment.

As I said, I will need to revisit the original at some point, but the premise here is an underlying theme that has run absolutely rampant in Hollywood over the last few years – it was done in I Am Legend, Omega Man, Outbreak, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead and a plethora of other productions, and it centers around a mutating toxic virus of some kind that the U.S. government is attempting to quarantine. When the film starts, we’re already neck-deep into the action without much explanation, as we find the sheriff of a small town named Ogden Marsh, Mr. Dutton (played by Live Free or Die Hard’s Timothy Olyphant) at a town baseball game with his deputy, when all of a sudden one of the townspeople is spotted walking across the outfield in a zombie-like state, brandishing a shotgun. Olyphant’s character runs to intercept him before he can make his way to the baseball players and folks in the bleachers, and we get a closeup view of the virus in full swing, and how it’s affected the humans of this town. The man cocks the shotgun and threatens Olyphant with it, but in the heat of this standoff, Olyphant is quicker on the draw and shoots him in the head.

This opens up a series of questions by the people in this small town America location, as this seems to be happening to everyone – at this point, the film feels like a cross between a Norman Rockwell painting and The Village of the Damned. We are introduced to other characters slowly, notably the sheriff’s sexy doctor wife played by the delicious Radha Mitchell, who looks just lovely bouncing around in her short skirt suits and stilettos; the biggest problem I had, though, with The Crazies up until this point was the fact that it seemed like there was just no “infected zombie action” – before you know it, and without many other infected people attacks, there’s a widespread government quarantine all over Ogden Marsh (in the style of Outbreak) and we really don’t know what’s going on. For a purported horror remake, there honestly wasn’t anything that was impressing me all that much.

But as we pass the running time, we play witness to Olyphant’s sexy wife being declared “infected” by the military science probes and thus being tied down to an exam table along with other townspeople who are seemingly infected by this virus but have not yet turned into a “crazy;” there is also a questionable motive in terms of the virus here – we’re not quite sure what it does to the people, unlike the “dark seekers” of I Am Legend or the ravenous zombies of the Dead films. It seems it is driving the townspeople to madness somehow, but this element is not deeply explored in this remake, and I believe that was one of its serious flaws. The people just walk around, not really themselves but bent on murderous rage, killing other uninfected townspeople with pitchforks and other random weaponry, showing physical signs of infection through a pretty impressive makeup job by the FX artists. As Mitchell’s character is tied to a table in an Army makeshift quarantine lab with other infected semi-humans, the townspeople being held captive in a fenced-in area begin to revolt against the Army, and end up breaking free of their containment. Meanwhile, in the makeshift lab, Mitchell and another housewife who are tied up feet from each other are confronted by one of the crazies who has found them and is now brandishing a pitchfork, going through each live human tied up here and driving the fork right through their bodies as they scream bloody murder – literally. Before this crazy can get to Mitchell, Olyphant breaks into the lab and shoots the nut dead.

The remainder of the film is a bit disappointing until the very end, in that instead of graphic, brutal crazies attacks, we bear witness to Olyphant, Mitchell and the sheriff’s deputy on the run, attempting to get out of Ogden Marsh any way they can. The final sequences of the film are probably the most exciting, with the deputy showing signs of infection and getting a bit nutty around Olyphant and Mitchell but then offering to sacrifice himself by turning himself into the government authorities so Olyphant and Mitchell can continue on the run, plus a nail-biting sequence involving Mitchell and Olyphant in a truck stop facility where some crazies are lying in wait for their next human victims. In between, Olyphant’s deputy throws some tire spikes in the middle of the highway as they’re walking to escape the town when a black government SUV comes speeding past them – the truck flips, and Olyphant and the deputy confront the disheveled government worker inside about what’s happening in Ogden Marsh. Apparently, as always, this was some kind of government-engineered chemical superweapon that spread to become a virus – but this is another element of The Crazies that was not all that well developed or explored. The notion just felt “empty” and hollow; okay, we can accept that this was engineered by our esteemed government, but can’t you tell us more? In a sequence earlier in the film, the sheriff’s office discovers the body of a man in the swamp, apparently connected to a parachute – indicating he jumped off some plane for some reason. From there, the evidence of a large plane crashing into the nearby river is discovered, with the outline of the entire aircraft seen under the surface of the water. This was the only real insightful look into what caused this epidemic and where it possibly came from, but again it’s not really explored all that much.

At the end, of course, there is the garden variety standard for dealing with these types of problems, a la Outbreak and Return of the Living Dead – that is, nuclear blast from our trustworthy and honest-to-goodness government. Does sheriff Dutton and his sexy wife Judy get out of Ogden before the blasts hit? Are either of them infected? What happens in the fallout of the nuclear attack on the town? Has it spread beyond Ogden Marsh’s limits? You’ll have to rent The Crazies to find out.


Bathed in an intentional dreary tone, the 2.40:1 widescreen transfer of The Crazies didn’t look all that appealing; however, this was definitely intentional, utilizing a photographic and stylized scheme specific for the mood attempting to be conveyed. Nothing in the visuals really pop out here, instead being portrayed in flat, drab tones – but those same bleak tones are conveyed in a premium fashion in this encode, exhibiting clarity and good bits of detail. Shadow detail was seemingly spot-on, with no traces of black crush that I could detect, and contrast appeared excellent with scenes going quickly from dark and ominous night shots to bright daytime outdoor sequences in stunning fashion at times.

Still, definitely nothing “reference quality” here.


What is the deal with Anchor Bay Home Entertainment? Is it just me, or is this studio apparently cranking out film after film after film, as if attempting to reach Paramount and Warner Bros. status? In a series of trailers that preceded the feature on this disc, I noticed that a title I am really looking forward to, Brooklyn’s Finest, is also being released by Anchor Bay. At any rate, the audio track here was much like the video transfer; exciting in certain loud parts, but uninspiring for the most part. The mix didn’t exhibit much sonic energy, requiring lots of boost on my system’s master volume to get the audio to an acceptable level. Once there, dialogue was improved from the “hushed” quality exhibited at lower levels and action sequences heated up with wallops of deep bass and surround activity – but I didn’t care for the fact that the mastering level on the disc was at such a point that it required good deals of amplification during playback.

There is a good deal and usage of the surround channels in the mix, accompanying the action onscreen whether it be crazies attacks or birds chirping in the distance – everything was conveyed pretty realistically here. The roar of vehicles out of control and overall mayhem came blazing from the appropriate rear channels right into the front soundstage very realistically to anchor the on-screen action; but aside from these positives, there was, overall, something that was just “off” about this track – it was difficult to describe or put a finger on, but the audio had a bit of a “nasal,” closed-box characteristic that was picked up almost immediately by my Polk front array. I took note of this with other Anchor Bay home releases, so perhaps it is coming down to the budgetary politics at the studio; this I cannot comment on conclusively.


The few that I watched weren’t all that interesting – the “Paranormal Pandemics” featurette was disappointing in that it really didn’t discuss that at all, but rather gave a look into the makeup work and such that was used in the film, and touched on the fact that the script was based on medical research regarding real diseases such as rabies and tetanus. However, like the film itself, it felt underdeveloped and rushed. There was also an interesting featurette exploring the “Romero blueprint” that has spawned films like Dawn of the Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead and even goes into what went “wrong” by the time Romero made Land of the Dead. But regardless, neither of these was that awe-inspiring.


This piqued my interest enough to seek out the original and re-discover it. However, I fear that I may be disappointed as I was with many originals of this vintage – a la Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. I am normally no advocate for remakes, coming from a school of film journalism that believed original anything is better than any re-invention of the material; but there were certain cases, in my opinion, in which the remakes just worked better. They’re rare instances – but in the end, I felt remakes for Dawn of the Dead and Hills Have Eyes simply were more effective. There are others, but these were just examples of two that stand out for me.

As for The Crazies, I don’t see this as possessing much repeat viewing time, so I cannot recommend putting it on your personal collection shelf. It was an interesting look at a Romero remake though, and it does possess some genuinely frightening and suspenseful moments – it really wasn’t a bad remake per se; I just felt many elements could have been better explored and more thoroughly fleshed out.

At the very end, it wasn’t great, nor was it particularly bad – it was indeed a tough one to call.

If you had, or have, a chance to see The Crazies on home video, please share your thoughts and opinions!
Osage_Winter is offline  
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post #2 of 2 Old 07-05-10, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,264
Re: THE CRAZIES (2010; DVD; Anchor Bay)

Thank you mods.
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