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The Crazies: Interview with Breck Eisner

February 24, 2010 4:46 p.m.

KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando interviews director Breck Eisner about remaking George A. Romero's The Crazies.

Related Story: The Crazies: Interview with Director Breck Eisner

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

KPBS-FM Film Feature: “The Crazies”/Interview with Breck Eisner
By Beth Accomando
Air date: February 25, 2010

HOST INTRO:
“The Crazies” is the latest horror film from the 1970s to get a Hollywood remake. KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando speaks with director Breck Eisner about why he wanted to remake this George Romero film.

CRAZIES(ba).wav SOQ 3:55

(Tag:) “The Crazies” opens tomorrow (Friday) throughout San Diego. You can find more of Beth’s interview online at K-P-B-S-dot-O-R-G-slash-cinema-junkie.


Back in the 60s, George Romero raised the dead and created the modern zombie film. But he also made one of the first “infected people” movie. His 1973 horror film “The Crazies” served up a premise in which people did not become reanimated corpses but rather were infected with a disease that made them, well, crazy…

CLIP There is no need for your masks…

Now 39-year-old director Breck Eisner is remaking Romero’s film. Eisner liked the fact that he wasn’t revisiting a zombie film.

BRECK EISNER: The infected people are not undead, in fact they are more alive than they have ever been. The disease itself, the infection, unlocks their inner demons. And I think it makes it more interesting because each time you run into one of these infected people they’re different, they act different, they respond different and you don’t know if they are infected or not but they still are your husband or your wife or your father or mother or your best friend and it makes it that much more terrifying.

CLIP Take a look at Bill?
What’s wrong?
He’s just not right.

But why bother to remake a film from horror master Romero?

BRECK EISNER: There’s the pragmatic which is a new generation, that a new generation is able to discover the movie and I think there’s a nostalgia to filmmakers remembering the experience of watching those movies.

Eisner considers himself a Romero fan and turning to a film that had made an impact on him as a filmgoer.

BRECKK EISNER: I liked the idea of redoing one of his movies but specifically this one because it has a great idea at its core but suffered from a real limitation, which was the miniscule budget that they had to work with. I think he made the movie originally for $200,000.

Which isn’t much if you’re trying to depict a massive infection followed by an oppressive display of military force. So Eisner will be “scaling up” the movie in the hopes of intensifying Romero’s cautionary message.

CLIP Military started shooting townsfolk.

BRECK EISNER: Beware of the government’s use of the military and the military as a machine it can be a very powerful weapon that should be controlled in its use and should be open to the populace seeing what’s happening as well as a concern about nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Eisner says that Romero’s movie was made in the shadow of Vietnam and that while he was prepping his remake the country was again in the shadow of war with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking his cue from Romero, Eisner decided he wanted to make a horror film that had more on its mind that just gore.

Working with a bigger budget also allowed Eisner the luxury to scout for a perfect location for this story.

BRECK EISNER: I wanted a Main Street city but not a perfect utopian vision of America. I wanted something that was slightly decayed, a throwback version. At the same time it had to be big, vast, open, epic plains. So that when the characters are trying to escape from the military and the infected there’s nowhere to hide.

In talking about directing, Eisner reveals a special delight in making horror films.

BRECK EISNER: They’re interactive. The audience is yelling at the screen and laughing and jerking back in fright at certain scare beats and it’s a lot of fun to see a horror movie with an audience and it’s fun to make a movie that an audience has an active response to.

We’ll have to wait till this weekend to see how active a response there is from audiences to yet another 70s horror remake.

For KPBS, I’m Beth Accomando