The Crazies: Interview With Breck Eisner
Breck Eisner’s remake of George A. Romero’s iconic film, The Crazies, is out this weekend and early reports suggest that it is as entertainingly wry as the first one. We caught up with the director to chat politics, zombies and Disney villains…
Why did you choose The Crazies for a remake?
I’d seen the movie as a kid. For years, I’d barely remembered it but the fact it stuck in my mind showed there was something to it. It was definitely a good idea; a solid movie for today’s audience.
Do you feel a frightening story ground in reality particularly appealed?
Yeah. I’m a fan of horror that has a deeper message than just, ‘The survival of the heroes’. Does survival have a greater social context? That was obviously something that Romero was known for. The reality of biochemicals being released is frightening in the world we live in. I thought the film would therefore have incredible meaning in this day and age.
Do you feel the film is as important now as it was thirty years ago in terms of themes such as military take over and biological warfare?
Definitely. Obviously Romero’s original is very deeply in the shadow of Vietnam and what the US was going through in that period. I think our remake is very much in the shadow of Iraq and Afghanistan and the violent world we live in.
There are poignant scenes in the first film – the old lady stabbing a man with her knitting needles and the priest who set himself on fire. How many of these ideas are you transferring into the new film and how many ideas have you generated yourself?
There are scenes in the original that are ingrained into the movie but there were some that were just too far out there for me! The knitting needle scene has been changed to work for a modern audience.
One of the fun things we did was with Louise Lowry who played the daughter in the original. We brought her back to do a cameo – it was great fun having her on set. The stand-out moment in this movie was the carwash attack, definitely my favourite scene to shoot!
Have you kept to George Romero’s quick editing styles? Do you feel like you’ve successfully emulated the atmosphere he created in the original?
Romero’s version was primarily from the point of view of the military. In this version, I took out their point of view completely. The whole movie is told from the perspective of the townsfolk.
It’s hard to make a movie scary when you’re telling it from the side of the killer (military). In that way it becomes more of an action-thriller. For me, it’s scarier by telling it from the other, more subtle, perspective.
What makes a good horror film?
As with any movie, it’s all about the script. My favourites are The Shining, The Exorcist and Rosemary’s Baby. They all had really strong scripts.
After getting great actors and great concepts, you have to know how to build tension. It’s all about building up the audience’s expectations. The place where you stab someone can take all the air out of that scene but what makes people really scared are the parts building up to that moment.
Finally, who’s your favourite Disney villain?
That giant dragon from Fantasia – it scared the hell outta me!