Tuesday, March 27, 2007

THE CRAZIES - Accidental Cross-Generational Metaphor?

This weekend TCM aired THE CRAZIES, George A. Romero's 1973 thiller about a small town overrun by non-zombies. I'm going to talk about it tonight on BOXOFFICE WEEKLY but on that show I skirt politics whenever possible. Therefore I make no mention of the movie's obvious Viet Nam commentary.

THE CRAZIES is saturated in Viet Nam, soaked in it like a Buddhist monk soaked in gasoline. The lead characters are both returned Nam vets, and the story concerns the military occupation of a small town, and the struggle to control an increasingly unruly populace as a biological warfare virus spreads, causing all who contract it to die or go insane. From the military's standpoint they are preventing the spread of a dangerous evil; but because there is an information blackout all the locals see is soldiers with gas masks routing them out of their homes and forcing them into a high school gym at gun point. Oh, and they shoot anyone on sight if they act crazy.

The common enemy in the movie is bureaucracy - supplies and troops are slow to arrive, all communications are delayed by the need for voice-print identification, security is valued over efficiency. Half a dozen times while I watched it, I thought "so this is what it was like at the Superdome in New Orleans."

But the frustration with red tape and the lack of a clear articulation of mission must have seemed very raw at the time of the Viet Name war, then nearing its end. And there is little to distance the story from our current conflict, except the increased prominence of corruption.

It's no accident that THE CRAZIES is being remade by Paramount for release next year. Don't blame Paramount. It's not that the movie reflects our current war, it's that the current war reflects the previous one. Since I'm not of an age where I can be drafted (it's coming, you know it is) I can ignore that danger and concentrate on a less horrible one - a future where we have to relive that early-seventies paranoid/cynical zeitgeist all over again.

Makes you long for a zombie attack, don't it?

No comments: