main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
Film: The Crazies

A 1973 horror movie by George A. Romero. A small town in Pennsylvania suffers from a string of violent attacks, ranging from beatdowns to arson. Firefighter David and his pregnant wife Judy are thrust into all this and to top it off, the military quarantine the town with orders to shoot anybody that escapes, regardless of being infected or not. David and Judy must try their damnedest to escape before the infected or the military get them.

Despite failing at the box office and getting mixed reviews, the movie gained a huge cult following. Its influence managed to get a remake in 2010; the town is set in Iowa with David and Judy now working as a sheriff and a doctor respectively as they still try to escape their town while avoiding the military and "The Crazies".

The 1973 version provides examples of:

  • Come Back to Bed, Honey: David and Judy. "You ignore the fire signal and I'll ignore the ringing phone."
  • Dressing as the Enemy: David tries this but it backfires, causing Judy to flee in panic; then David is attacked by townspeople thinking he's a soldier and Judy gets shot.
  • Downer Ending: Dr Watts is killed and the cure smashed in a fight between soldiers (who assume Watts is infected and try to force him into a quarantined area) and the infected. Trixie had already spread beyond the town before the events of the film and infected a city. The one character who is immune keeps silent about it out of spite.
  • Enemy Chatter: Exchanged between Gas Mask Mooks in several scenes.
  • Evil Army: Played straight from the view of the townspeople. Subverted by showing Reasonable Authority Figures acting under conditions of great stress, limited time, information and resources, and idiotic restrictions from higher authority.
  • Famous Last Words: Subverted with Kathy who just gives a quiet "Oh" after being shot.
  • Gun Struggle: The first indication that things are starting to go pear-shaped. The town sheriff resists being forcibly disarmed by the military, and ends up being fatally shot.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Clank realises he's infected and draws off the soldiers chasing his friends.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: The original features a couple of actors who would appear in later Romero films. Richard France (Dr. Watts) plays another doctor on a talk show in Dawn of the Dead, and Richard Liberty (Artie) is Dr. Logan in Day of the Dead.
  • Idiot Ball: The security restrictions hamper any attempt to deal with the crisis effectively. The top scientist on the Trixie project is sent into the town to do a job that any lab technician could do, then he's not allowed to send blood samples out of the city due to the quarantine.
  • Invisible President: Only the back of the President's head is seen, made all the stranger by having him only appear on a Video Phone screen.
  • The Immune: David. Too bad he's the only person in town they never test for immunity, and is too angry over what's happened to tell them.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The infected old lady who stabs a soldier with her knitting needles.
  • Man on Fire: One of the soldiers burning bodies goes crazy. He gets torched with a flamethrower. Also a priest goes mad and imitates a certain Buddhist monk.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Averted — well it was The Seventies!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Artie after realising he's had sex with his own daughter. He goes and hangs himself (assuming Clank didn't kill him).
  • Nuke 'em: A SAC bomber is kept on permanent patrol above the town, though it's never actually used.
  • Papa Wolf: Subverted. Artie is too scared to protect his daughter Kathy effectively, and ends up going crazy and having sex with her.
  • Please Wake Up: In the opening scene.
  • Plunder: Several soldiers are shown stealing abandoned property and, in one scene, stripping the dead of their valuables before burning the bodies.
  • Poor Communication Kills: A literal version of this trope; the officer originally sent to deal with the crashed plane isn't told he's dealing with a bioweapon. The crisis team has to communicate through a voiceprint security system that delays communication. The media blackout means that the townspeople end up fighting the military, because they don't understand what's happening or that they shoudn't drink the water. Dr. Watts rushes out without telling the technician working with him how he found the cure.
  • Red Shirt Army: Justified; the soldiers are wearing white Hazmat Suits that restrict their vision and makes them stand out in the woods. They're also rear echelon troops (from a chemical warfare unit) fighting Clank, a Vietnam veteran.
  • Samus is Black: Although the audience already knows it, the sheriff and mayor are visibly startled when Colonel Peckhem first removes his gasmask.
  • Science Is Bad: The core of an arguement between Colonel Peckhem and Dr. Watts. Peckhem accuses Watts and his fellow scientists of (incorrectly) assuring the military that the Trixie virus was 100% benign; Watts counters that the actual figure was a bit less than that — based on standards set by the military.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance
  • Stepford Smiler: One of the symptoms.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Dr. Watts: It just astonishes me how shoddy this whole operation is.
    Col. Peckhem: Nothing astonishes me anymore.
  • Trigger Happy: Clank after becoming infected. Not the soldiers contrary to what some viewers think; they lose several people trying to talk armed civilians into putting down their weapons.
  • Video Phone: A video link is set up with the President of the United States so he can, if required, authorize the use of nuclear weapons to contain the virus. However, as the President spends the entire conversation sitting with his back to the camera, one wonders why George Romero didn't just have him talking over a telephone speaker.
  • Your Head Asplode: Happens to a Gas Masked Mook, despite being shot by the notoriously-underpowered .30 Carbine round.

The 2010 version provides examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: The motion comic showed not only that the chemical also infected animals, but also how that happened. It also showed how the pilot died and how Rory got infected - in fact, he was the first to try to raise a fuss after witnessing his pigs go berserk and saw the stuff in the water.
  • Ax-Crazy: The three hunters in the swamp who are so gung ho for hunting that they do so in the off season. But the infection makes the whole town Ax-Crazy before too long. People with specific mental focus had their insanity present based on their foci.
    • The hunters' Ax-Crazy manifests as them deciding it's open season on people, infected or not.
    • A mother and son manifest theirs as a single minded desire for revenge on David for killing Rory, the husband/father.
  • Armies Are Evil: Unsurprising as a staple of Romero's films.
    • Played with in the 2010 remake in that the grunts have been lied to — they were told that everyone was infected regardless of appearance, and it's ambiguous as to whether the slain civilians they find in the end are due to them becoming infected or not.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT threaten David's wife. You won't live very long to see sunlight ever again. Least until you get a knife through your throat.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The group gets a car working, and begins driving to the evac zone. Along the way, a military copter spots them on the highway and makes chase, and they pull into a car wash to lose the chopper. After a fight through the car wash after getting trapped, the car getting smashed to hell and Becca's death, they turn to go back to the car... right as the copter flies by and drops a bomb on it.
    • Initiate containment protocol.
  • Cannibal Larder: The hunters had commandeered a giant freezer in a truck stop and turned it into a larder full of corpses.
  • Captain Obvious: People have started acting insane (sometimes homicidally so), the request for a transfer of a completely whacked out prisoner to a better facility has been ignored, an unidentified and unreported plane has crashed in the town's drinking water, and suddenly everyone has lost phone service and internet connection. Fortunately, Sheriff Obvious is there to tell people that they're in trouble. The people don't listen.
  • Cassandra Truth: David. He goes to the Mayor to warn that he thinks the water supply is contaminated. The Mayor refuses to give his hunch credence - however, it was more due to his concern for keeping a farming community thriving during planting season than ignoring a potential biohazard.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: The cell phone signal goes down as the virus starts to spread. At least here there is some explanation, seeing as the military likely cut off phone connection in the town.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The lighter David picks up at Quick Phil's, and the car under the tarp in his barn.
    • Disappointingly subverted with the harvester. It looks like it's being set up to be one, but it's never seen again.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
    • The Black SUV driver, though the person inside isn't seen when we first see it.
    • The three rednecks that discover the drowned pilot at the beginning of the film go on a human-hunt during the outbreak, killing infectees and non-infectees alike. They even provide the final confrontation with the heroes.
  • Distressed Damsel: Any time David leaves Judy alone for more than two minutes, she ends up facing a crazy and needing rescuing. She beats the shit out of a crazy in the scene wit the no-touch car wash, though, and later in the big rig. Pretty much everyone but Russell qualifies as a 'Distressed [Pronoun]' at one point or another. It's that kind of movie.
  • Downer Ending: everyone David and Judy knew is now dead since the government nuked their home town after indiscriminately killing EVERYONE inside. And when they escape to a new town? The same containment protocol will happen.
  • Easter Egg: You have to watch through the credits for this - Find the Truth: which leads to a blog and a twitter account for some of the residents of Ogden Marsh.
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner: Russell lives long enough to tell the government "Fuck you for what you've done."
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The only human interaction between the townspeople and the soldiers comes when they grab one and pull his mask off.
  • Genre Savvy:
    • David spent a little less than a day before he figures out that something's wrong and tries to take measures to stop it.
    • He turned off the water supply - even though the Mayor told him not to - because it was infecting people.
    • He and his deputy immediately realize that they are being purposefully quarantined when the phone lines and all internet/mobile signals go dead.
    • The deputy making sure to put some rounds in the bodies of Rory's wife and son after they've been killed. 'Just making sure'.
  • Groin Attack: With a buzzsaw.
  • Hate Plague: Of a very literal kind.
  • Here We Go Again: When David and Judy finally make it to Cedar Rapids, the same military satellite from the beginning orders for another containment procedure to start there.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: By Russell, doubling as a case of dying as himself.
  • He's Dead, Jim:
    • Subverted. After David shoots the first townsperson to display the crazies, he goes to check on his vitals.
    • Played straight in many other examples, though. The drowned parachuting pilot is examined by the ME.
    • The funeral home and the medical examiners' office scenes are justified examples, as is the scene where David, Judy, Russell and Becca watch Scotty and his mother shot down and then burned by flamethrowers.
    • The scenes involving truckloads of burned bodies, the hunters' freezer full of people, etc.
  • How We Got Here: The film begins with the town burning to the ground. It lets that image sear the retinas for a bit before it flashes away to "two days earlier:".
  • I Did What I Had to Do: The government agent in the SUV says that their measures are to stop an even bigger spread — "What would you rather have, a global pandemic?" The horrible irony is that, given how ambiguous the ending is, it might well wind up like that anyway.
  • Impaled Palm: The town sheriff gets a boning knife through his palm. Later in the same scene, he grabs a Crazy woman by the throat with the same hand, sending the knife into a major blood vessel.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The people who get pitchforked while strapped to hospital beds and completely unable to escape. At least they're crazy.
  • Improbable Weapon User:
    • Not only are the crazies able to use weapons, but they're creative enough to turn a car wash into a deathtrap.
    • There's the knife that was stabbed through David's hand.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Bill burns his wife and son alive, and all of the townsfolk, save for the four survivors, are killed by the army and their bodies burned.
  • It's The Only Way To Be Sure: A nuclear weapon is employed to stop the spread of the infection beyond Ogden Marsh.
  • Kill It with Fire: The second infected man does this to his wife and son. And the military does it to the whole town from more than one angle!
  • Mouth Stitched Shut: Eyes too in the medical examiner's office.
  • My Car Hates Me: The carwash scene.
  • No FEMA Response: The remake has the first city cordoned off and Fuel Air Bombed. Worse, they make everybody think they're evacuating, when they're really just herding them into trucks to burn them alive. Survivors make it to another city which is then targeted for the same treatment.
  • Not Using the Zed Word:
    • Given that the infected remain intelligent, and in a few cases extremely creative, this might be justified.
    • They also do not eat flesh. And, unless David was infected from the beginning (He did happen to get through the military's inspection) the "virus" does not appear to be a virus at all since he didn't become infected after having infected blood in an open wound. It sounds more like a chemical weapon than biological.
    • Averted in the motion comics where the later infected very obviously bite people and one of the hunters starts eating a soldier.
  • Nuke 'em
  • Our Zombies Are Different: See Not Using the Zed Word. While the insanity virus sounds similar to that of 28 Days Later's rage-filled zombies, the victims of this virus retain both their intelligence and their personality - usually.
  • Outdrive The Fireball: Subverted. The nuke still overtakes them and blasts the truck off course, but they survive with minor injuries.
  • Pac Man Fever: The second motion comic has random bleep-bloop sounds coming from Nicholas' Nintendo DS. When his DS is shown later falling to the ground, a generic pixilated landscape is shown.
  • Parachute in a Tree: The skeletal remains of a long-dead parachuter are found entangled in a tree.
  • The Plague: The payload of the plane that went down and contaminated the water.
  • Punny Name: Quick Phil's gas station/diner.
  • Sinister Scraping Sound/Sword Drag: The school principal with his pitchfork as well as the hunters at the truck stop with his knife.
  • Surprise Vehicle: Despite being surrounded by flat terrain with no buildings, they don't notice there's a helicopter gunship searching for them until it's almost overhead. The 'copter doesn't seem to notice them, either.
  • Technically Living Zombie: The infected also remain alive.
  • Zombie Apocalypse
  • Zombie Infectee: Russell. He recognizes this, and delivers a Heroic Sacrifice to distract the military to give the protagonists a chance to get past the quarantine.

Country StrongCreator/Zoic StudiosCSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CoffyFilms of the 1970sDay for Night
CrawlspaceHorror FilmsCreature from the Black Lagoon
Cop OutFilms of the 2010sThe Dark Side of Chocolate

alternative title(s): The Crazies
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy