The Crazies (George A. Romero / U.S., 1973):
(Code Name: Trixie; The Mad People)

Grindhouse Camus, George Romero's L'État de Siège and a most necessary seizure. The opening compresses Night of the Living Dead, scary children games until something awful rises from within, the American house burns down. A colossal government snafu drops a biochemical-weapon virus into a Pennsylvania town's water supply, the ensuing satire is dealt out in staccato jabs. "A blackout situation," the infected turn homicidal and are corralled in the local high-school gym, the cavalry arrives decked out in gas masks and white biohazard suits quickly stained red. (Martial drums and overlapping discord comprise the braided soundscape, "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" is a trenchant leitmotif.) The war at home: Abrupt invasions, swirling helicopters, corpses in bonfires, the self-immolating monk. "The Army becomes an invasionary force," among the townsfolk embracing their inner resistance fighter are the Green Beret turned firefighter (Will McMillan) and the pregnant nurse (Lane Carroll). Virulent breakdown and guerrilla bedlam for Romero's potent social tumult, all civilization needs is a little push for its inner bestial sides to rip through. A handheld camera follows a soldier as he storms a country home and is skewered by a granny's knitting needle, contamination unlocks the distraught widower's (Richard Liberty) incestuous urges toward his young daughter (Lynn Lowry). (The dazed nymph wanders into a marauding battalion and, in a disconcertingly ethereal flash, smilingly takes a bullet as a flock of sheep run past the camera.) Les Carabiniers for speed, Dr. Strangelove for the ticking clock (a bomber crammed with nukes circles the area, awaiting the President's word), plus Losey's These Are the Damned. "Oh, gentlemen, we're not dealing with the flu virus here." Vietnam is the parallel fever, the serum ends up a splatter on the ground. With Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar, and Richard France.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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