Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Alternate Title: Code Name: Trixie
USA, 1973. Pittsburgh Films. Screenplay by George A. Romero, based on a script by Paul McCullough. Cinematography by S. William Hinzman. Produced by Al Croft. Music by Bruce Roberts. Film Editing by George A. Romero.
George Romero reimagines Night of the Living Dead as a commentary on martial law, his hordes of zombies now humans infected with a biological weapon in a small, isolated farming town. A fireman answers a call to put out a raging house fire that was started by a man after he went crazy and killed his family, while at the same time his nurse girlfriend is called in to help deal with injuries that start piling up quickly. A recent plane crash in the area turns out to have been carrying a deadly virus that entered the town’s water supply and is turning everyone into violent, raging maniacs, and the army has shown up to cordon off the community and pull everyone out of their houses and into public buildings for treatment. The main couple (who are also expecting a baby) and a few other straggling survivors find each other and try to stay ahead of the madness, hoping to break the quarantine barrier and get away before they are either infected by the sick or harmed by the overzealous soldiers, the joke being that it’s hard to decide which is worse. Romero is once again working against his material with a budget too low to really pull the film off with the polish that it deserves, and his messaging is a bit too obvious, but the pace is exciting and the actors all do a terrific job of creating a very convincing sense of a breakdown in the social order. In some ways the plain and unfettered look of the production makes it feel more real and makes its more intense scenes that much scarier, with an ending full of the rich cynicism that we’ve come to love from this director.