The Crazies maddeningly spreads its atrocious editing like a virus. Having seen the remake a fair few times and coming to the conclusion that it's actually pretty decent, I wanted to equip my gas mask once more and dive into the original. I find it enthralling to compare variations of the same story (mostly because I have nothing else better to do...). Sadly though, Romero's cult favourite failed to ignite any infectious entertainment value, and instead nearly knocked me out with its nitrous oxide. The inhabitants of a town are quickly rounded up when a biological weapon hosting a virus that melts the mind into insanity is accidentally unleashed.
Who are the real "crazies"? The army struggling to take control of the endemic, shooting blindly at possible healthy civilians? Or the individuals choosing to revolt against Martial Law, fighting against a superior force for answers? Romero's social context and his commentary on the spontaneous actions during extreme times of stress, just about prevents this film from being a total biological disaster. A few noteworthy scenes of tension and adequate practical effects whenever someone is shot in the head certainly kept me invested.
However, Romero struggles to stick to one direction. The film, in its entirety, doesn't know what it wants to be. A political construct of mass division resembling Vietnam-era warfare, remnants of a "zombie-esque" feature that he is infamous for leading, or a psychosis on the human mind. It never excels at one of these directions at any time, and thus resembling a cluster of potential ideas. The characters were far too one-dimensional to care about, consequently omitting any suspense or horror. The random deaths caused by the now insane civilians, most notably stabbing a solider with a knitting needle, felt just that. Random. No build-up whatsoever, again, removing thrilling tension that is an essential requirement to these films.
The primary faux pas though was with the editing. Absolutely horrendous. The ineptitude in stringing together a series of shots really showed, plaguing the story with quick cuts, random scene cuts and cuts within cuts. Completely butchering a coherent plot. More often that not, my eyes were circling the screen trying to find a point of focus. Heck, they would've been better suited rotating round and looking into my head! Not to mention the inexplicably poor audio that picks up every sound in a five mile radius, but lacks the clarity to pick up audio from humans wearing gas masks. What were they saying? Let me rewind back repeatedly. The ending, whilst keeping to its semi-realistic tone, left me wanting more with no gratifying conclusion.
And that's how I can sum up this disappointment, it left me wanting more. Most aspects, aside from the contextual narrative, were far too underdeveloped to even feel remotely captivating. I don't even think it's a case of being outdated. It's thrills and horror relies on realism, but when the technicalities and characters are butchered, it can't possibly evoke a realistic world. Such a shame! I best keep my gas mark on for a few days to let the stench of disappointment leave my house...