Extra Crazies Extras (DVD/ Blu-ray Comparison)

In 2003, Blue Underground released George Romero's 1973 not-quite-a-zombie movie, The Crazies on DVD. And in they released a decent if unexceptional blu-ray upgrade in 2010. But between those two points, in 2008, a German DVD company called Anolis released a 2-disc special edition DVD steelbook with a bunch of exclusive extras. How do they all stack up? Well, gee, maybe we can find a website that would tell - oh! Hey, that's what we do here! What a happy coincidence. Let's take a look.
The Crazies is a dark and compelling follow-up to Night Of the Living Dead, even if it's not literally a sequel like Dawn would be. Here, instead of the dead going crazy and killing people, ordinary people are inexplicably going mad and killing people. It takes the deeply personal, unsettling notion of us being attacked by our own in Night and brings it even further home. What do you do when your loved ones slowly start to exhibit signs of this new mental illness and become increasingly dangerous, but are still essentially themselves? When do you pull the trigger on your daughter? And in The Crazies, Romero introduces the other half of the problem - something that's since come up in tons of zombie and other horror films throughout the years, from The Walking Dead to Romero's own Dead sequels - the idea of our own government and becoming a lethal threat when our populace goes out of control. And yet I don't think any have managed to match Romero's iconic imagery of The Crazies' white clad gas masked soldiers. They're the more memorable monsters than the crazies themselves.
Not that it's a perfect film. I've heard a number of horror fans say they prefer the glossier remake. I'm not among them, but I definitely concede it's problems. It features questionable over-acting and unconvincing extras, mixed production values and a soundtrack that particularly stands out to me as amateurish. The stock drum march they play during the military-themed scenes makes it feel like a student film. But at it's core, this still holds up as a pretty effective, disturbing little horror film.
Blue Underground DVD top; Anolis DVD mid; BU blu-ray bottom.
There's not a huge difference between any of the three versions here; they're all anamorphic. Anolis added a super slim sliver of picture around the edges - you'll probably have to zoom in real close to the screenshots to even find the difference - but otherwise the pillar-boxed 1.62:1 images are pretty much the same. Then the blu adds a sliver more picture around the sides, though this time it's enough that it's easier to spot. The HD image also takes away a little of the image's softness; but doesn't exactly add a world of new detail. The most notable difference really is that the colors are bolder on the blu. It also has lossless audio, but all three disc's audio tracks are pretty flat and thin. Still, I a prefer that to some new, artificially enhanced sound mix with added effects.
Blue came up with a couple strong extras for their original DVD release, primarily an audio commentary by George Romero himself, that pretty much answers all the questions fans have had for decades. They've also got a nice, 14-minute interview featurette with Lynn Lowry, focusing on her career overall rather than The Crazies specifically. That's about it, though, apart from a couple trailers, TV spots and photo galleries.

And disappointingly, Blue Underground didn't come up with anything new for their 2010 blu-ray.
They also didn't port over the new German extras, which would've been nice. Anolis's set does include the Romero commentary, as well as the trailers and galleries from the BU discs. It doesn't have the 14-minute Lowry interview, because instead they've created their own 46+ minute interview with her. They also have an all new Lynn Lowry audio commentary, which is admittedly a little redundant with the interview - she tells several of the same anecdotes in almost exactly the same way. But there's still plenty of new material across both compared to BU's brief feature. She also recorded a funny, new intro to the film for the Anolis set. There's a nice little booklet, as well; but the text is all in German. Blue Underground's DVD had a single sheet insert, and nothing for the blu.
So to summarize, Blue Underground's blu-ray is the one to watch. But it's a modest enough upgrade that you might want to prioritize other titles over this one if you've already got the DVD. And the German DVD is a must for Lynn Lowry fans, with all the new content featuring her, but even if you're not so big on her, it's still the edition with the best extras by far. There's no reason to hang onto BU's DVD if you've got the blu, but whether you choose the Anolis, the blu-ray or both just depends how strongly you value extras and high definition. But you should at least know the German set's out there as an option.

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