As most of you have probably guessed, I am quite a fan of zombies. The idea of a zombie outbreak fascinates me; strategy, how to survive, the way life would change, the chance of wielding sharp objects and hitting dead things with them…
However the logician in me has always been slightly grumpy about the fact that the zombies we see in films or read about in books are basically impossible. Turning the human body into a non-dying, injury-ignoring, surviving-on-live-flesh-alone, bite-infecting, walking corpse is simply not feasible. The human body is just not capable of that – zombies need energy so where are they going to get enough from? The human body needs blood in order for limbs to function, and even a ‘zombie’ would get taken down if it lost enough blood (if we are thinking practically) Plus, biting is a really ineffective way of spreading disease. Why just LIVING flesh – why aren’t they happy nomming on each other too?
So for me The Crazies provides me with a plausible alternative to the traditional zombie. Here we are trading the Walking Dead for the Living Insane. The film sees the populous of a small American town struck down by an apparently water-borne disease, turning them from rational, functional human beings to irrational, homicidal nutters. The threat is in many ways just as great for our protagonists: they are at risk of infection and the entire infected populous of the town wants to tortuously massacre them. However they also have the added threat of intelligence. Whereas your traditional zombie will moan and groan and run towards you when it spots you, THESE ‘creatures’ have cunning. They have human intelligence and this makes them all the more dangerous: A psychopathic serial killer is far more dangerous than a few rabid dogs.
Our scenario is far more plausible. As mentioned the plague is waterborne: a VERY effective method of transmission – demonstrated by the still prevailing issues with Cholera, E-Coli, Dissentry, Salmonella and Typhoid. Therefore any disease that can be transferred in this manner poses a genuine threat to a populous. Our plague also does not turn people into dead, super-human, un-killable monsters. It simply turns normal people into homicidal insane people – a scenario with far more precedence. Rabies (when manifested in humans) has very similar effects to our ‘Crazies’ disease and, although rabies eventually kills its sufferers and is far less easy to spread, its ability to turn people irrational, insane and violent adds a bit of believability to The Crazies. Syphilis also manifests in degenerative mental health, as do many other illnesses. As such THIS is the outbreak I would worry far more about (rather than zombies)
One imagines our infected would also still need to eat normal food to survive, not like film zombies that manage to stay active on just a bit of flesh. There would still be competition for fodder and as such our outbreak should only last for a finite amount of time (none of this decades of immortal zombies crap) and providing you manage to avoid contaminated water and also manage to avoid contaminated people, life should fairly quickly stabilize once again. Less exciting I know, but it does please the rational part in me.
Of course you are missing out on ZOMBIES – living humans can never properly compensate – and the film still has its fill of scientific iffyness, but the crazies does a really good job of creating a realistic epidemic scenario which might pose a similar threat to our ever desired Zombie Apocalypse.
In addition to its plausibility, the film is generally just good. Granted it has its fair share of plain stupid bits – like all horror films – with characters doing really dumb things and government officials acting in really idiotic and dickish ways, but the level of gore and fear and general kick-assage is pretty entertaining. Our main male characters are awesome (the girls you kinda wanna let get killed – they are irritating and a little pathetic quite frequently, but what’s new?) and the crazy people do a good job of being crazy. The ending lets it down a little, but I will forgive it, even if it does leave room for a sequel: an excellent opportunity for money grabbing producers to murder the original concept and re-incarnate it as a never-dying un-killable zombie franchise of bad sequels.
Over all, a good watch. The Crazies is not too long, not too complicated, but just plausible enough to worry when your friend gets that ‘mad’ look in their eye. Give it a watch!