Boston Underground Film Festival: STUCK! (2009) and SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR (2009)

Posted in FESTIVAL NOTES: Dispatches from the front lines. on March 29th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


Saturday March 27, 2010 at the Landmark Kendall Sq. Cinema, Cambridge, MA.

Directed and Co-Written by Steve Balderson, starring Starina Johnson, Karen Black, Mink Stole and Jane Wiedlin.

Assemble all the cliches that spring to mind when you read these four words: Women-In-Prison Flick. What do you think of? Cute girls in torn prison uniforms? Butch cell-mates? Shower scenes? Perverted wardens and billyclub wielding guards casting inmates into solitary after molesting them? That’s all good lecherous fun for tons of drive-in movies from the 1970’s and 80’s. Balderson however was taking his inspiration from earlier noir-tinged movies from the 40’s and 50’s, such as I WANT TO LIVE from 1958, hence the black & white photography and Rob Kleiner’s cool jazzy score. During the post-screening Q&A Balderson admitted to not having seen many of the best and worst films in the women-in-prison genre. His honesty drew breathless gasps from an audience of nerds who fully expected him to have a Tarantino-esque command of every movie ever made in any country that featured incarcerated ladies.

Enough about what STUCK! is not — what is it? It’s an enthusiastic ode to the earlier days of the genre, and while it is far from perfect, it has enough happy surprises to keep it interesting. Daisy (Starina Johnson) is an innocent girl sent to death row after being implicated in her mother’s suicide by a mistaken neighbor (Karen Black). As Daisy’s cellmates help her embrace and challenge her fate, the solitary Neighbor Lady spirals into doubt and regret. An imaginative depiction of the warden is one of many strengths that STUCK! exhibits. Even when cliches appear, ’cause what’s a women-in-prison movie without a blossoming sapphic affair, Balderson and his committed cast handle them in fresh and unusual ways. While STUCK! is no classic, there are rewards to be gleaned from watching a cast and crew sincerely give it their best shot, especially on a reported $300K budget in a climate where a movie can cost $10M and still be regarded as “independent.”


SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR Directed & Co-Written by Chad Ferrin, starring Noah Segan, Andrea Rueda and Elina Madison.

SPOILER ALERT! — It is very difficult to discuss what is good about SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR without giving away the ending — stop reading before the 2nd paragraph if you don’t want the end ruined. The story focuses on a group of medical students who spend far more time on pharmaceutical experimentation than attending class. After a group trip to their school’s drug closet, one of the students is murdered, leaving rest of the peanut gallery to figure if their paranoia is a side-effect of their trip or if they are really next. This being a horror movie, of course someone is next, but it is in the depiction of the murders that SOMEONE’S KNOCKING slips off the rails.

The murders involve the victim being raped to death by a gruesome couple: a woman who looks like a groupie from a Norwegian Black Metal band, and a guy who looks like a coked-up Lance Henriksen. These are not only vile sequences, they actually distract from what could have made this a really good movie. The big trick is that none of these kids ever left the drug closet; the murders are a shared hallucination as each succumbs to an over-dose. That big trick was almost a very cool reveal, but after sitting through 75 minutes of wannabe torture-porn mayhem, I didn’t really care about sorting through who’s nightmare I was in or what the exact effects of the drug were. The sad part is that SOMEONE’S KNOCKING could have been a breakout sleeper on the order of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY if they’d focused on the cool unique idea rather than slumming in a neighborhood that had made so many other films worth forgetting.

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Boston Underground Film Festival: AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE (2010) and PIECES (1982)

Posted in FESTIVAL NOTES: Dispatches from the front lines. on March 28th, 2010 by Jim Delaney

Friday March 26, 2010 at the Landmark Kendall Sq. Cinema, Cambridge, MA.

AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE Written & Directed by Elijah Drenner, narrated by Robert Forster, and featuring John Landis, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Larry Cohen, Allison Anders, Joe Dante, Eric Schaefer and the late Don Edmonds.

The two clearest signs of a well made documentary are that they show you something you have never seen before, or place something familiar in a new light, and they make you want to know more. They seem complete but you wish they could be longer. AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE is a well made documentary.

In covering the history of American exploitation films, Elijah Drenner’s documentary covers areas that have been meticulously explored recently: socially conscious horror films of the 1960’s and 70’s (THE AMERICAN NIGHTMARE from 2000), the dawn of cult movies in the 1970’s (MIDNIGHT MOVIES: FROM THE MARGIN TO THEM MAINSTREAM from 2005) and the emergence of porn from stag parties to marquees (INSIDE DEEP THROAT also 2005). Drenner succeeds in plumbing the early days of exploitation movies. He traces as far back as single-reel silents made by Thomas Edison’s film company, and progresses through the Hayes Code of the 1930’s and film noir of the 40’s and 50’s, all in an exhaustive search for the offensive and outrageous roots of American independent films. As with most such documentaries AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE relies on expert talking-head interviews — always a good sign when John Landis shows up! Drenner’s relentless supply of clips and promotional artwork from over 100 movies is what sets his study a notch above others covering similar ground. If only PBS would give him a Ken Burns budget to make a 6 or 8 hour film!


PIECES Directed by Juan Piquer Simon, starring Christopher George, Linda Day, Ian Sera and Edmund Purdom.

PIECES is a piece of junk and I loved it. It was Rated X during its 1982 theatrical release, both for male and female full-frontal nudity, and for gore that was considered excessive at the time. That same summer John Milius had to trim a 3-shot decapitation to a single shot so that CONAN THE BARBARIAN could be Rated R. The following year Brian DePalma lost a protracted battle with the MPAA to get an R-rating for SCARFACE until he agreed to tone down his infamous chainsaw scene. PIECES accepted the X, and was thus enabled to show you a chainsaw bisecting a woman’s torso, plus other nasties that are not that much more splatterrific than todays average C.S.I. episode.

The story begins in 1942 with a young Boston boy who chops up with mother with an ax and a saw after she berates him for playing with a puzzle of a nude woman. This is where the hilarity begins: the puzzle looks more like a 1976 Penthouse Pet, and one of the police officers who responds sports a Ron Jeremy mustache. Jump forward 40 years to follow a series of dismember-murderers of cute young women at an unnamed university in Boston. From there the 80’s cheesiness is boundless. Murder of a girl after we get to watch her in Jazzercise class? Check. Slow motion murder of a woman on a waterbed? Check, and well shot, by the way! Bad actors delivering bad Boston accents? Che– hold the phone — yes, the actors are bad, but not even one makes any attempt at a Cliff Claven accent. PIECES is particularly hard on the Boston Police, who come off like Keystone Cops in polyester, ever ready to Protect & Stand Around.

In fact, for a movie that was actually shot partly in Boston, the only indication of New England are the bare trees in the fall. I’ve seen movies set in Boston but shot in New York, Chicago and even downtown Los Angeles. No Boston movie has less Beantown-credibility than PIECES. I know I’m splitting hairs but this is after all the BOSTON Underground Film Festival! Moments that would have been moderately amusing with any other audience became hilarious with the crowd in Kendall Square. Yup, this was one of those perfect moments for which film festivals exist: to turn scary movies into the funniest comedy you’ll se all year.

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RED CLIFF (2008 & 2009)

Posted in MOVIES TO REMEMBER: The ol' favorites that The Lunch Movie kids might have watched had the tradition continued... on March 23rd, 2010 by Jim Delaney


Thursday, March 11, 2010 at The Brattle Theater.

Written & Directed by John Woo, starring Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Chiling Lin and Fengyi Zhang, and featuring an opulent score by Taro Iwashiro.

America is now able to see two versions of John Woo’s RED CLIFF, a truly epic story of warring Chinese factions in 208 A.D. toward the end of the Han Dynasty. The 148 minute cut released theatrically last fall, which was among my Favorites of 2009, is out today on DVD and BluRay. For a few dollars more, you can buy RED CLIFF Parts 1 & 2 (146 and 142 minutes respectively), and see the version that played across Asia and in a few European countries. In mainland China, RED CLIFF Part 1 broke the box office record set by TITANIC in 1998.

Comparing these two versions is not like comparing the shorter and longer versions of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, where one is clearly superior to most movies ever made, and the other is average at best. RED CLIFF is more akin to DAS BOOT, which was originally released in the U.S. at 149 minutes, but is now available in a 293 minute version that aired as a mini-series on German television. The shorter versions of RED CLIFF and DAS BOOT are very strong, and worth your time, with the longer cuts being quite simply the same immense quality in increased quantities.

Both versions of RED CLIFF contain some of the most intense and vivid battle sequences since the advent of CGI armies. It is endearing that Woo uses those grand CGI shots only long enough to establish the scope of his battles, before diving in close to focus on his strong cast doing impressive stunt work, including less wire-work and more horsemanship than I expected. The vanishing art of dramatizing military strategy debates (check out PATTON and A BRIDGE TOO FAR if you’ve never seen this done well) is in full force in either version of RED CLIFF. We not only learn about these characters through heroic speeches to their armies, or death-defying feats against their enemy, but also through their thoughtful planning with their brothers in arms.

RED CLIFF Parts 1 & 2 offers more than just longer action sequences by comparison to its abridged version. In both cuts, Princess Sun Shangxiang (played by Wei Zhao) defies her royal family’s “girls can’t fight” attitude, both by joining in battle and by sneaking behind enemy lines to send out intelligence via carrier pigeon. In PART 2 she accidentally befriends a reluctant officer in the enemy camp, a relationship nowhere in the shorter cut, granting her character a far more satisfying journey from start to finish.

The clear villain of the shorter film is General Cao Cao, seen above played by Fengyi Zhang, opposite Xiao Qiao played by Chiling Lin. General Cao Cao is a power-hungry military aggressor in the single film, though he is given a slight secondary motivation of lusting after Xiao Qiao, the wife of his opponent Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai). The combined films expand Cao Cao’s passing lust into a consuming obsession. We see Cao Cao being unnervingly creepy when he forces a courtesan to answer by Xiao Qiao’s name, and tragically vulnerable when he finally meets the object of his affection. But wait, there’s more Cao Cao: try to name another war movie where the big rally-the-troops speech is delivered by the villain?! Yeah, I can’t either!! With a potential mutiny growing among Cao Cao’s army after a series of command errors, he unites his troops in a manner usually reserved for heroes. John Woo is not saying “poor Cao Cao’s just a misunderstood teddy bear,” but he makes a fascinating point of showing why this general’s army would follow him so loyally.

These are just two cases of how the expanded running time allows for much more intriguing characterizations. Rest assured that either version will show you the most sumptuously photographed show-stopping musical performance ever used in place of diplomatic negotiations, with Zhou Yu facing off against Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro). Please pardon the lack of subtitles in the clip and focus instead on the music and how Woo’s camera covers it.

As a final thought, I need to make the observation that the lines of resolution in digital video still cannot touch a single image on film, at least insofar as each technology stands today. When The Brattle Theater in Cambridge, MA screened RED CLIFF Parts 1 & 2 a few weeks ago, a mix-up with their distributor forced them to show Part 1 on film and Part 2 on BluRay. I will say this much for Blu Ray: the subtitles were considerably easier to read. Nonetheless lighter colors, like heavily clouded skies that appeared richly detailed Part 1, became white-washed in Part 2 even during the opening summary of scenes from Part 1. Night sequences often looked muddy. This has less to do with RED CLIFF than my confirmed preference for seeing movies in theaters that use film versus digital projection. Just a thought 😉 Now go rent RED CLIFF Parts 1 & 2!!

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THE COLONY THEATER, Shaker Heights, OH

Posted in PALACES, ONE AND ALL: A Valentine to screens in small towns, big cities and odd corners of the country where I have received salvation at 24 frames per second. on March 17th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


I lived in Shaker Heights, OH, a little east of Cleveland, from 1983 to 1987. While I am saddened that the single-screen palace that was once The Colony Theater has been divided into the 6-screen Shaker Square Cinemas, my glass is raised to Shaker Sq. Cinemas for carrying on the spirit of The Colony by hosting the 34th Cleveland International Film Festival.

My introduction to The Colony was BLUE THUNDER, which I had already seen, but had not heard until I came to Cleveland. My bones rattled when Roy Scheider fired Blue Thunder’s 20mm electric cannon. Five years before the advent of THX, the Colony could blast you through the back wall of the theater with crystal clear explosive sound. The Colony was equally pristine for quieter movies; in NEVER CRY WOLF, I could distinguish the howl of a lone wolf in one corner of the balcony, while the wind swirled through the theater. If I had been blindfolded when I saw AMADEUS, I would have believed that I was hearing a live orchestra. The acoustics of The Colony made me aware of film as an aural medium, not only a visual one.

My friend Stefan and I had a nerd-tastic evening at The Colony, hosted by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. I’d mistaken an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer to say that he would be giving a lecture on classical music in movies. Turns out that lecture was at Case Western University. Stefan and I got to The Colony and realized we would be seeing Leonard Maltin discussing classical music specifically in cartoons! We got to experience a great collection of Looney Toons and Merry Melodies on a giant screen, in between which Mr. Maltin explained how “Kill da wabbit, KILL DA WABBIT” was one of the pop culture experiences through which many Americans were first exposed to classical music without even realizing it.

Aside from Leonard Maltin, I also saw Harry Anderson take a break from NIGHT COURT and get back to his stand-up comic and magician roots at The Colony. Mr. Anderson indicated my brother Ed and me in the 2nd row as “the reason we won’t have as much fun tonight as we could in a comedy club: kids coming down to see the TV guy.” Everything I knew about comedy clubs at that point came from HBO specials. It was very unexpected and very cool to see that Anderson was not a standard joke-teller or one-liner guy, but a carny-style story teller who used his magic as props. Despite being called out, still a damn funny show, thanks Harry!

Ed and I had our fair share of epic movie experiences at The Colony too: THE RIGHT STUFF, RED DAWN, Giorgio Moroder’s unfairly maligned 80’s-drenched revision of METROPOLIS, and a midnight marathon of STAR TREK: The Motion Picture, The Wrath Of Khan and The Search For Spock. Ed and I had seen beat-up prints of old movies shown in high school auditoriums, public libraries and even a few revival houses. We had never seen a restored print re-released and looking as sharp as possible until The Colony showed Universal’s 1983-84 re-release of a slate of Hitchcock classics, including ROPE, REAR WINDOW and THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. This was a wonderful education for a Hitchcock fan who had only seen pan-n-scan versions on TV, not only to see Hitch’s editing rhythm uninterrupted by commercials, but also his shot composition and balance of vibrant Technicolor with deep shadows. Some movies simply demand a big screen, and The Colony was the biggest in town.

Among the current movies that have come to be regarded as ’80’s classics, I saw THE COLOR PURPLE with my Mom, THE UNTOUCHABLES with my Dad, BROADCAST NEWS with Leslie, BLUE VELVET with Rob and Gary and THE PRINCESS BRIDE with Lisa. It is not easy to pick one favorite moment from all of the experiences I had at The Colony, but it just might be from April 1985:

A group of exchange students from Germany visited my high school. I was taking German at the time; my teacher asked anyone in our class who did not have a German student staying with them to volunteer as a sort of back-up host. She asked us to show a German kid around town so that their Cleveland experience would not solely be through the eyes of their host family. I hung out with a guy named Jens. He told me that all the German kids wanted to see POLICE ACADEMY 2, so he and I went to see that at the Southgate Mall. Toward the end of Jens’s stay, The Colony showed the 229min cut of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. Ed and my Dad and I had already seen the 139min cut, coincidentally at Southgate, and had enjoyed the shorter version contrary to most critics at the time.

Jens knew who Robert DeNiro was, and had heard of Sergio Leone, but had never seen a gangster film before. Any gangster film. Not SCARFACE, not THE GODFATHER, it was a blank canvass to him. The longer version of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA thankfully included an intermission. I did not expect it to contain all the chronological leaps forward and back that were nowhere in the shorter version. While I was engrossed in the puzzle that Leone’s cut represented, I apologized to Jens, afraid that it might be boring the hell out of a guy who’d only been learning English for 3 or 4 years. I was surprised and so happy when Jens said he really liked the movie too! He admitted that there were often parts where he didn’t know what the hell was going on, but that it was such an unusual world to him that he was completely drawn in. When the movie was over, Jens found that it had answered most of his questions from during the intermission.

The happiest sign that inviting Jens was a good idea came when he asked me to recommend him a list of other gangster and Leone movies. We can usually remember the dawning moment where something changes our own artistic or cultural perspective. It is very rare to be able to be part of someone else’s dawning moment. I hope somewhere in Germany, Jens is writing a blog about gangster movies, and telling people about his first experience with the genre in a palace up the hill from Cleveland.

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TALK RADIO (1988)

Posted in THE LUNCH MOVIE CHRONICLES: The original e-mail announcements that were sent through our office the evening before we rolled a Lunch Movie on March 10th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


From Friday April 22, 2008
Directed by Oliver Stone, adapted by Eric Bogosian from his play, starring Eric Bogosian, Ellen Green, John C. McGinley, Michael Wincott & Alec Baldwin, and featuring a cold electronic score by Stewart Copeland from The Police.

Barry Champlain (Bogosian) is an infuriating, rambling Dallas talk radio host whose show is on the verge of being taken national by his boss (Baldwin). All Barry has to do is play nice and tone down his show for a few days to make his new sponsors comfortable. And handle a visit from his ex-wife while he’s sleeping with his producer. And deal with Neo-Nazis calling in to threaten his life on-air.

When TALK RADIO was released, Howard Stern made a lotta noise about Bogosian and Stone stealing his life. While parallels to Stern (and Don Imus, Tom Leykis, Morton Downey, Jr. and every other loud-mouth) are easily made, the particular loud-mouth who inspired Bogosian’s play was a Denver DJ named Alan Berg. A political / social rabble-rouser, Berg’s callers phoned in more to fight with him that to fawn over him like Stern’s audience. Bogosian’s theatrical writing and performing have always been similarly politically and socially charged. Luckily he found a director known for subtlety and restraint to transition TALK RADIO from stage to screen.

It’ll finish Tuesday.
Love, Jim

AFTER THOUGHT from 3.10.10
If ever a play and a movie were ahead of their time, it’s TALK RADIO. Thankfully the play had a recent revival in New York, with Liev Schreiber playing Barry Champlain, so maybe it’s not too much to hope than the film will receive some revived appreciation. Both the play and the film would make outstanding study tools for anyone interested in the art and skill of adaptation. The play contains all the action within Barry’s radio station and features four extended monologues where one character addresses the audience with back-story. Works great on stage, but having a character turn to the camera usually only works in comedy films.

For his film script, Bogosian not only uses the ol’ reliable flashback, but also strays drastically from his play by taking the entire second act outside of the radio station. The end result is a film that is different enough form the play that either would seem fresh and new even if you have already seen the other. Oliver Stone also provides some brilliant touches that might not have played to the back row of a live theater, such as a shot taken from so low across Barry’s desk that he seems like a disembodied head attached to his radio console, a giant cyborg media machine. In one telling character moment Barry informs a Holocaust-denying caller that he is presently holding a Star of David that he found in the dirt at Auschwitz. Stone briefly pans down to a coffee cup in Barry’s hands. Fact versus fiction versus truth is the arena in which the characters of TALK RADIO engage. No shot sums that up better than Barry’s coffee cup.

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ASSASSINATION TANGO (2003)

Posted in THE LUNCH MOVIE CHRONICLES: The original e-mail announcements that were sent through our office the evening before we rolled a Lunch Movie on March 9th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


From Friday May 6, 2008
Written & Directed by Robert Duvall, produced by Francis Ford Coppola, starring Robert Duvall, Luciana Pedraza, Ruben Blades, Kathy Baker and Frankie Gio.

John J. Anderson (Duvall) is a professional assassin who spends his spare time taking his fiance and her young daughter to dance in supper clubs in Coney Island. Anderson accepts a quick job to kill a corrupt General in Buenos Aires, then ends up waiting indefinitely for his target to come available. While killing time in Brazil, he becomes immersed in the tango dancing nightclub scene. As much as the ol’ dog enjoys learning new tricks, he knows that sooner or later he will have to kill a man, and then go home.

In sporadic moments, ASSASSINATION TANGO is a politically charged thriller. In others, it’s a swooning dance movie. At all times, it is a character study of one of the more fully-drawn leading roles to come out of an American movie in years. Never mind Coppola’s involvement, the 70’s maverick who Duvall is really channeling here is John Cassavettes. Duvall makes vivid work of each of John J’s contradictions, strengths and frailties. John J. is, among other things, probably the most arrogantly vain man ever to be a leading character rather than a villain or supporting role. Watching Duvall play that weakness to the hilt is to be reminded that he is among the most nakedly honest and hardest working actors alive.

I’ll finish Tuesday.
Love, Jim

AFTER THOUGHT from 3.9.10
I have nothing more to add other than a reiteration of what an impressive artist was behind ASSASSINATION TANGO. I have a friend who had the good fortune of acting in a movie with Robert Duvall. He described Duvall as “a man who suffers no fools,” a consummate professional who has no time for the unpreparedness of others. This might explain how a lifelong conservative (Duvall’s narration of a video clip about John McCain was a highlight of the 2008 Republican National Convention) has maintained a legendary career in a notoriously liberal industry: He is more concerned with the success of the entire project than he is with any personal differences with an individual costar, so long as that individual is also delivering their best work. How many of your coworkers can you say that about?

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THE CRAZIES (2010)

Posted in MOVIES TO LOOK FORWARD TO: Coming Soon or Now Playing In A Theater Near You... on March 4th, 2010 by Jim Delaney


Saturday February 27, 2010 at the AMC Boston Common.

Directed by Breck Eisner, executive produced by George A. Romero, starring Timothy Olyphant, Radha Mitchell, Joe Anderson and Danielle Panabaker, and featuring a quietly menacing score by Mark Isham.

I had high hopes for THE CRAZIES, thanks to some solid trailers and TV commercials, and the fact that George A. Romero had signed on to exec produce this remake of his 1973 film. A few days before I saw it my expectations were somewhat lowered by a few critics, mostly those of the desperately-seeking-nerd-credibility variety, who stand ever ready to berate a remake. You know these folks; they’re a splinter group of the sort of moviegoers who should have “the book was better!” stamped on their forehead.

I am here to tell you this my friends: if you like a smart horror film, Breck Eisner’s THE CRAZIES is worth your 101 minutes. Not to take anything away from Romero’s movie; it was rip-roaring fun and made some sharp comments on the times, just as he has consistently done with his DEAD series. What immediately distinguishes Romero-remakes like Zac Snyder’s DAWN OF THE DEAD and Eisner’s CRAZIES from their sources are the remakes’ very strong casts. Actors who work hard to sell the fear contribute vividly to the suspension of disbelief. Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell as a husband and wife / sheriff and doctor team were enough to get me in the theater. The happy surprise was Joe Anderson, whom I thought I’d never seen before, until IMDB reminded me that he had elevated THE RUINS from goofy fun to an intense experience. Anderson turns Olyphant’s unpredictable wild card of a deputy from a character who could have simply been a cliche monkey in the wrench into a very believable short-tempered man under pressure.

THE CRAZIES has another strength that I have not seen addressed in any reviews I’ve read, positive or negative. Proper credit must be given to this film for responding to the current social-political climate just as Romero did. Polling data in the past few years has shown that, while many Americans are weary of Congress and national government, we are more secure with our state government, and most secure with our local government. We perceive those geographically closest to us as having our best interests at heart.

We see this first level of detachment from the community when Olyphant warns the mayor that something is amiss. The sheriff drives far out of town to the mayor’s home, and finds the mayor lounging beside a swimming pool at what seems to be the only home in town build in the last forty years, comfortably ignoring three deaths that have rocked his town. The heroes of Romero’s film are local civilians, with the military receiving considerable screen time as the villains. The heros of Eisner’s film are local pillars of the community, their town doctor and local law enforcement. While the military remains a villain, they are ominously less present here. Satellite images remind us that our heroes are being watched and have nowhere to run. Eisner gives us the additional villain of the worst among civilians: looters who turn on their own neighbors.

The stock in trade of the average horror movie is a collection of loud and gory set pieces, and THE CRAZIES does not want for creativity in this area. Lesser movies fill the space between these trailer-ready moments with bland set-up and blatant exposition. THE CRAZIES fills those same moments with the steadily paced creeping dread that the worst has already happened, there is no escape, and all that is left is to grow eyes in the back of your head and trust no one. This is post-Patriot Act, post-Hurricane Katrina paranoia at its most lost and desperate.

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