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The Crazies

"The Crazies"; a film review by Gary Chew

GARY CHEW/Sacramento

It's just another quiet, spring afternoon of baseball for the modest crowd gathered at Tiger Field in the little town of Odgen Marsh, Iowa. Suddenly, a disturbed man stumbles into the outfield and makes his way toward the bleachers carrying a loaded, bolt-action rifle.

The local sheriff, David Dutton, played by Timothy Olyphant, is watching the game along the first base line. Rushing out to meet the distraught man, Dutton recognizes him as a citizen of Ogden Marsh who's been known to tip a few too many, from time to time. Sheriff Dutton advises the man to lay the rifle down. But before you know it, the Sheriff shoots the man dead at second base and all hell breaks loose for extra innings in a spine-tingling, new motion picture called, "Invasion of the Crazy Crackers."

Romero's original 'The Crazies'

The original

Actually, the movie has a more succinct title: just, "The Crazies." It's a re-make of George Romero's 1973 film of the same name. Romero is best known for his "Night of the Living Dead," which means this new "Crazies" outing could also be called "Blight of the Deadly Dudes."

The lively dudes responsible for Crazies/2010 are director, Breck Eisner and screenwriters Scott Kosar and Ray Wright.

The dead man at second base wasn't drunk, just like the town folk aren't crackers or dudes. All are victims of a government-made bio-weapon that's accidentally gotten into the Ogden Marsh water supply. The infecting virus causes humans to go insane and slowly die, after of course, they've slogged about in their dementia, killing their neighbors in more ways than you've got fingers and toes.

With such terrible events, placing blame weighs heavily on the narrative. But the deftly written script defangs the hidden culpability factor while losing none of the horrific acts needed to keep an audience ….uh, entertained and happy.

Radha Mitchell plays Judy, Sheriff Dutton's wife. She's the town's lone physician and not yet showing that she's pregnant. The delicate condition gives impetus to her safekeeping among the shuffling, ghoul-like maniacs who are being systematically taken out by a stealthily-performing US military on-scene to restore domestic tranquility.

Radha Mitchell

Radha Mitchell

It's tough to sort out whom should be killed since there are those who, after ingesting the virus, don't morph into homicidal maniacs. However, the folks susceptible to the toxin are usually, at first, difficult to detect as infected and don't present as being dangerous. All of that justifies a shoot-ask-questions-later sort of world.

And what with all the government intrusion to quell the small town mayhem, it allows moviegoers to get the crap scared out of them watching the effects of big brother totalitarianism---pick your own proclivity---from either the left or the right.

"The Crazies" is well-crafted. The dialogue is coarse and crisp; the vehicular mishaps are genuine; the fires are a fact; explosions, authentic; wounds, repulsive and the blood may be thicker than it is abundant.

The movie's forward movement is rapid, sometimes scrambling ahead of itself with regard to the narrative and explanation. It employs many of the same cinematic scare tactics seen in other films of the genre: this to the point that one begins to get the rhythm of when it's time for the next outburst of over-modulated audio to shriek from the speakers just as something suddenly jumps into the shot. But, heck, who cares. That's entertainment.

And there is much comic horror in this picture. Especially when Sheriff Dutton almost gets his private parts severed by an out-of-control, high-speed bone saw that's just been wrestled from the hands of the virally infected and, now, crazed town mortician. If that isn't a bloody laugh, I don't know what is.

Timothy Olyphant and a Crazie

Timothy Olyphant offers a ride to an unidentified Iowa resident.

It looks like a good time to see another movie with Olyphant in it since his latest cable TV series, "Justified," premieres in March on the FX network. Tim plays a lawman again, just like he does in "The Crazies," as well as HBO's "Deadwood." You also probably saw him as a less empowered character in FX's "Damages," as well as big screen films, "A Perfect Getaway" and "Stop-Loss."

Olyphant has the ability to give his foe in a film a really vicious stare while putting the most pleasant grin you'd ever want to see on a man's face. And he does both without taking his finger off the hair trigger of his weapon.

"Crazies" closing credits boast a song sung by Willie Nelson. I couldn't catch the title of it, although it was good and well-sung by Willie, but I'm thinking that a better conclusion would have been a recording of the late Patsy Cline singing her great hit from years past known, simply, as "Crazy."

"The Crazies" official site.

Now playing in Tulsa at the Promenade Palace 12.

Check Yahoo Movies-Tulsa for theaters and times.

Gary Chew can be reached at garychew@comcast.net,
Facebook.com/justin.playfair and Twitter.com/orwellingly.

Copyright © 2010, Gary Chew. All rights reserved.

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