AWFJ Women On Film – “The Crazies” – Susan Granger reviews

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In case your travel agent hasn’t warned you, don’t plan to visit Ogden Marsh, Iowa, pop. 1,260. Not if you want to come back. Not if you happen to drink the water.

There’s something decidedly wrong in this bucolic farming community. Only it’s just becoming obvious to strait-laced Sheriff David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant), his trigger-happy deputy (Joe Anderson) and his feisty, newly pregnant wife, Dr. Judy Dutton (Radha Mitchell) and her office assistant (Danielle Panabaker).

On the opening day of high-school baseball season, the notorious town drunk, Rory Hamill (Mike Hickman), walks onto the field with a loaded shotgun. Sheriff David tries to talk him down and is forced to hill him. But Rory’s wife swears he’s been sober for two years and that’s confirmed by the medical examiner. Meanwhile, Dr. Judy’s mystified about her patient Bill Farnum (Brett Rickaby), whose wife (Christie Lynn Smith) senses that something’s amiss. That night Farnum torches his home, burning it to the ground with his wife and son inside. And the following day, a parachute-harnessed corpse is found in a nearby swamp near a submerged plane. No one’s reported the plane missing but the swamp drains right into the local water supply. Suddenly, Ogden Marsh is isolated and quarantined – all connections to the outside world are cut off. And ordinary townsfolk are becoming cold-blooded, zombie-like killers..

Directed by Breck Eisner (“Sahara”) from a script by Scott Kosar (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Amityville Horror”) and Ray Wright (“Pulse”), it’s a remake of a 1973 horror thriller by George Romero, whose zombie classic “Night of the Living Dead” has spawned countless remakes and rip-offs. In “The Happening” (2008), for example, M. Night Shyamalan transmuted the toxin into the air, turning its victims suicidal, not homicidal. Originally, Romero devised a paranoid parable about a government experiment-gone-wrong and a military conspiracy. Now it’s become bio-terror and fear of the federal government.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10 “The Crazies” is a spooky, suspenseful, scary 6. It’s a grisly gorefest – but you expect that, don’t you?

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.