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March 2012
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Posts Tagged ‘cult films’

‘The Crazies’ is yet another film that has recently been rebooted with the loving care with which Hollywood treats all classics, so it’s only fair to re-examine the original. We join the scene as the small, isolated community of Evan’s City is suddenly the focus of a massive military-controlled quarantine, and no one will say why. The local nurse and firemen are dragged into the centre of the action but while they struggle to survive, the government has already condemned them: “Trixie” is too experimental a virus, and a plane is lined up to for a nuclear strike.

As with any Romero production, the focus is not necessarily on a believable series of events, but on the way society would react to an unknown biological threat. Tension runs high as the army mercilessly round up the citizens, and the town’s doctor and priest argue desperately for communication channels to open.

A claustrophobic atmosphere reigns as any solution begins to appear hopeless and clueless soldiers struggle to control a frightened population. The military (wearing white overalls and gasmasks) are as threatening as the slowly disintegrating sanity of the populace. Soon chaos reigns and it’s every man for himself. The scene in which the faceless soldiers evacuate family after family from their homes is particularly poignant. No one shows signs of infection at first, but with martial law declared and everyone herded into the local high school hall, disaster can be the only result.

The sheer amount of dialogue can seem a bit hackneyed compared to more modern zombie, horror and action films in general. There is also a lens on the military, as opposed to the melee unfolding in the town. However, we soon discover that the soldiers are not immune either, and simply acting under orders will not protect them. It becomes unclear whether people’s brutality is that of natural fear or the sickness itself. These are no mere zombies: they are people reduced to pure Id, and as the violence increases you wonder who is worse, the infected locals or the ruthless army.

This film has been somewhat lost to history because it isn’t one of Romero’s best, and stands alone as opposed to ‘…The Dead’ franchise, which has been very much kept alive (so to speak). The use of music also dates it, and the implausible gunfight with a helicopter is, well, implausible.

Sadly you can see the ending coming from very early on in the plot, and the endless shootouts and military debates aren’t half as fun as zombie guts flying everywhere – you feel a bit bad for the army, the way they get mercilessly picked off by local gunslingers.

‘The Crazies’ is fun, but there is not as much to relish as in the majority of Romero’s work, so it can all fall a bit flat.

Review by Nicole Holgate


David Cronenberg’s Rabid is an odd film which sadly never justifies its oddness. At first a creepily Freudian shocker, the shocks never take control in any meaningful way. After a young couple have a horrific motorcycle accident, the driver remains unscathed. Luckily for his incredibly burnt and injured girlfriend Rose, they crashed near a recreational plastic surgery facility. The girl’s burns are so serious that doctors begin experimental skin grafting to save her. This is where fake science makes no real attempt to explain anything.

When Rose finally wakes up, her very first act is to kill a man. Slowly it is revealed that her armpit is the new home of a very vaginal opening containing a very phallic proboscis, which comes out of it and sucks people’s blood, resulting in some odd dry-humping endings to fight scenes. And then of course, her victims turn into zombies.

This weirdness is further compounded by a complete lack of character development. Poor Rose, who seems to inadvertently display her breasts a lot, also tends to use her good looks to draw victims in, and vacillates madly between wide-eyed victim of cruel fate and evil blood-lust vampire. She does try to eat, and regain her humanity, but each time the event fails she seems as remorseless as before in her desire to drain blood. And when I say remorseless, I mean utterly devoid of empathy toward anyone. She then weakens very quickly and becomes a squeaky innocent girl again.

It’s not so much unconvincing as totally confusing: does Cronenberg want you to pity her as a victim of freak circumstances, or despise her as she gives in to her monstrous urges? Other characters are equally inconsistent, as it seems you barely have the time to get to know them before she has drained everyone’s blood and the military and Word Health Organisation are involved. Even after her boyfriend catches up to her and reveals that she is in fact the cause of the zombie chaos gradually overtaking the city, she seems totally unrepentant and simply makes a run for it.

It doesn’t go anywhere, pretty much every character dies whether you cared for them or not, and generally, compared to the tension and pathos of his other works, Cronenberg let himself down on this one.

Review by Nicole Holgate




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