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Breck Eisner Unleashes ‘The Crazies’

28 Jun, 2010 By: Billy Gil

Breck Eisner

What if everyone around you suddenly became a homicidal maniac? That beguiling question is posed in The Crazies, a horror remake (of the George A. Romero original) by filmmaker Breck Eisner, which is hitting DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($39.98) June 29 from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

The film stars Timothy Olyphant and Radha Mitchell as a police officer and doctor, respectively, of a small town in which the residents suddenly begin coming down with strange symptoms of disassociation from reality. From there, they essentially become maniacal zombies — one of the film’s early scenes features a man who sets his own home on fire with his wife and child inside.

Naturally, when the U.S. military finds out a toxin leaked into the town water supply has caused such behavior, they want to keep it under wraps. The military’s quarantine of the town becomes another major element to the film, in which they become another enemy to the film’s heroes, who are seemingly unaffected by the infliction and want to escape the town. The biggest change Eisner made to the 1973 original, Eisner said, is taking out the military’s point of view in the story.

“This was territory that was probably very new and revolutionary in the ’70s, thanks to Romero, but cutting it allowed us to focus on our heroes’ journey,” Eisner said.

Such an editorial eye extended to every aspect of the film, which has garnered much more positive reviews (a 72% on movie-review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com) than the typical horror remake.

“In the horror remake world — although there have been some notable exceptions — I think people make the mistake of underestimating the sophistication of the horror audience,” Eisner said. “They’re cinephiles, they love movies and they’re a real intelligent and knowledgeable audience. I think people talk down to them and create character types rather than characters.

“People want to see interesting, dynamic and relatable characters who change and evolve over the course of a movie. The Crazies, for me, was first and foremost a movie and secondly a horror movie.”

As such, the film’s home video release features no deleted scenes.

“We really didn’t have much money to make the movie,” Eisner said. “For me, the way to maximize your onscreen dollars is to not shoot stuff that’s not going to be in the movie. I was really vigilant about cutting down the script and cutting scenes before we shot and while we shot.”

But Eisner did film two endings (a “dark” ending and a “darker” ending, he said). The “dark” ending went into the film and the “darker” one was left off the home video release. However, the discs are still loaded with extras, including a commentary with Eisner, a featurette on the template set by Romero, a behind-the-scenes featurette with Eisner, one on the film’s make-up, one on the visual effects, a photo gallery, DVD-ROM special features including the screenplay and one on storyboarding, and a featurette on real maladies that informed the film’s “crazies,” such as tetanus, rabies and Stevens–Johnson syndrome.

“Ultimately reality is more insane than anything you could come up with,” Eisner said. “In the case of diseases, that is truly the case.”

The discs also include two motion comics based on the film (two more were made and are available as paid downloads on iTunes).

Additionally, Eisner is working on getting a new “Flash Gordon” film off the ground. He said Sony Pictures has re-upped the option for the film, which will be shot in 3D.

“At this point asking if it’s going to be in 3D is like asking if it’s going to be in sound and color,” Eisner said.

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