‘Crazies’ Remake Aims For Same Scares, Better Special Effects

Story line from George Romero's original 1973 bio-plague flick will remain intact.

George Romero’s 1973 film [movie id="54755"]“The Crazies”[/movie] was an exercise in low-budget, high-camp horror: unmistakably fake blood, ridiculous overacting, laughable special effects. Yet the core story — a top-secret bio weapon infects a small town and unleashes a plague of blood-soaked insanity on the unsuspecting citizenry — was undeniably frightening.

Now, like other ’70s horror flicks before it (“Halloween,” “The Omen,” “Dawn of the Dead”), “The Crazies” is getting the remake treatment, and the top goal for all involved has been to stay true to the terrifying nucleus of the original while bringing in a bigger budget and far superior moviemaking technology in a quest to scare the crap out of audiences.

“I saw what looks like a trailer for [the original] ‘The Crazies’ online,” Timothy Olyphant, who stars as Sheriff Dutton, told MTV News when we visited the set in April. “And if that’s any indication of what the movie is, I really don’t need to see the rest of it.”

“We’re keeping the conceit of the story that a bunch of people go nuts in a town,” explained Radha Mitchell, who plays a doctor named Judy. “And we’re keeping the idea that, can you trust or not trust your government to protect you when things go wrong. … [But] we’re putting a budget behind it and bringing it to life.”

And they want to be clear about one thing: “This is not a zombie movie!” insisted director Breck Eisner (“Sahara”). “This infection gets to the soul and to the core of your persona, and it heightens that which you already had.”

A repressed family man, once infected, sets fire to his home with his wife and children still inside. When the high school principal gets dosed, he starts attacking his students. And then all hell breaks loose. The government rolls into town and institutes a martial-law quarantine, which — this being a disaster/horror movie — only makes matters worse. The sheriff and Judy, along with high school student Becca (Danielle Panabaker) and Deputy Russell (Joe Anderson), must escape both their murderous neighbors and an increasingly destruction-oriented military occupation.

“This is a combination of all the different kind of crazies,” said Panabaker, who also appeared in this year’s “Friday the 13th” reboot. “With Jason, you know what you’re running from. You’re running from a big guy who’s out to kill you. With a disease like the Crazies, you don’t really know what’s coming. There’s the huge fear of the unknown.”

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