HMV are selling The Crazies in a funky little double-pack with both versions. But not until I re-watched the 2010 remake would I fully appreciate the fact. It's like they knew that Crazies 2010 doesn't hold up well to re-evaluation, and decided to include a quality product for your money's worth. I'd never seen Romero's original up until I got this set, and am mightily grateful that it comes in the pack: so much so that I now view the remake as the 'extra' and the original as the main feature. Which is as it should be, I suppose. George Romero's Crazies has far more going on under the hood than the considerably more vacuous remake.
Now I like Breck Eisner's Crazies a lot, but it's something that needs to be experienced in the cinema with an audience to get the full effect. So much so, that it loses a Scream Queen when viewed at home. It has a lot to like, and I daresay I'll revisit it a few times in the future, but there are just too many plot holes and cheap tricks to ignore. When viewed at home, the jump scares just seem cheap and lazy - particularly one which comes late in the show: Radha Mitchell hides in a closet from a rampaging loon. For ten minutes, she cowers there. And then husband Timothy Olyphant grabs her from behind. We're to expect Olyphant was hidden in that closet all along - and never showed himself to his own wife? It's a silly shock-for-the-sake-of-a-shock, and takes the viewer right out of the film.
In Romero's original piece, the military operation is given far more emphasis. It takes up a good half of the movie, and is every bit as interesting as the civilian bit. It might be an early Romero work, but most of his familiar tropes are on show here: civil unrest, a strong black character, violence and bickering. A subplot between a father and daughter is exploited particularly well, and gives a disturbing element to the virus that is sorely missed in the remake. In Crazies 2010, the 'Crazies' are merely high-functioning zombies. Romero gives us actual crazy people. His Crazies isn't a zombie movie at all, whereas Eisner's is. Which is ironic, when you consider that Romero is pretty much the King of Zombie nowadays.
The two movies' respective plots are similar yet different enough to justify being remade. I must admit, watching Timothy Olyphant in Justified has kinda ruined his character here for me, as Sheriff Dutton is basically Raylan Givens without a stetson and crappier dialogue. The original piece uses uglier actors, but is just as well performed. 2010's Radha Mitchell is nice, but I preferred Romero's handling of the husband & wife arc, as well as the crazy best friend. The remake is all a bit predictable. With Romero, you never can tell who's gonna turn next.
Eisner's Crazies is a fine film, but doesn't rise enough above being simple popcorn entertainment. Breck Eisner's version scores:
Many won't rate Romero's version as high, but for me it stands every bit as effective and well-made as his Night, Dawn or Day of The Dead. It's plausible, chilling and disturbing. High octane action and scares is fine and well, but sometimes you want something a little more intelligent. Which is why the double-pack is a great idea. Feeling like a little stupidity and Olyphant porn? They gots you covered too. But for Mr. Romero: