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Film / The Crazies (1973)

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The Crazies is a 1973 horror movie by George A. Romero (of Living Dead Series fame). 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.


This film provides examples of:

  • Anti-Villain: The infected are by no means malevolent, but several are extremely dangerous to the people around them without even realizing it, like Clank and Artie once they become infected.
  • Bald, Black Leader Guy: Colonel Peckem, despite not being bald, fits the archetype rather well.
  • Come Back to Bed, Honey: David and Judy. "You ignore the fire signal and I'll ignore the ringing phone."
  • Creator Cameo: Had the president ever turned around, the viewers would have seen it was director George Romero.
  • Cutting the Knot: Subverted; when someone tries to cut through the red tape, it only makes things worse (see Just Following Orders).
  • 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.
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  • Driven to Suicide: Artie.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Faceless: Only the back of the President's head is seen, made all the stranger by having him only appear on a Video Phone screen.
  • Gun Struggle: The first indication that things are starting to go pear-shaped. Sheriff Cooper 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.
  • Here We Go Again!: The film ends with Peckhem being sent to another town where Trixie has broken out.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Just Following Orders: A bureaucrat gets frustrated by the slow response to the crisis, and orders the next available member of the Trixie team into the crisis zone. Cue Dr Watts futilely arguing with the military police driving him to the plane that it makes no sense for the developer of the Trixie virus to be sent into the town where he doesn't have access to his laboratory or computers; all they need is someone to take samples.
    Soldier: I'm sorry, sir. Those are the orders.
    Dr Watts: Orders, my ass! Stop the car! (they don't) You're going to have a hell of a time getting me on that plane, soldier.
    Soldier: Maybe so, sir, but we'll do it.
  • 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.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Kathy just gives a quiet "Oh" after being fatally shot.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Because Armies Are Evil and plagued with severe amounts of obstructive protocols, which people adhere to even when they make things worse.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Averted — well it was The '70s!
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: At one point during the rather rough round up of civilians, a soldier is seen starting to carry away a little girl, only to move back and let her pick up the stuffed animal she was whimpering for.
  • 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 wasn't told he's dealing with a bioweapon, so treated it as a routine clean-up job to be handled discreetly. 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 shouldn't drink the water. Dr. Watts rushes out without telling the technician working with him how he found the cure.
  • Quarantine with Extreme Prejudice: Both versions of the film showcase the military cordoning off the town and then killing first anybody trying to leave, and then everybody inside, in the attempt to contain The Virus.
  • Raster Vision: Used for a Video Phone showing only the back of the President's head.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    Dr. Watts: It just astonishes me how shoddy this whole operation is.
    Col. Peckhem: Nothing astonishes me anymore.
  • 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.
  • Science Is Bad: The core of an argument 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.
  • 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.


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