Next week director Breck Eisner will unleash his terrifying reimagining of George A. Romero’s classic film The Crazies onto audiences everywhere. Dread Central was given the opportunity to catch up with the man who helmed the project to talk about what makes his Crazies so terrifying and what the status is on two projects he’s been attached to – Flash Gordon and The Brood remake.
To ensure The Crazies resonates with today’s audiences, he brought the horror down to a very simple science: Make the threat something we all need to survive. Water.
“To me water is life, and it’s something you just can’t live without,” explained Eisner. “So, what happens when what you need to survive is no longer available? I wanted everything about The Crazies to feel authentic for the audience, not like Outbreak where you have these people roaming around in oversized suits. It had to look and feel like everyday life.”
In The Crazies the water supply of Ogden Marsh gets infected due to a downed government plane that unleashes the Trixie virus on the unknowing residents. The virus, meant to be a biological weapon against our country’s enemies, ends up turning the small town’s residents into homicidal maniacs within just a few hours.
So how realistic is the Trixie virus and what happens to the infected? It turns out Eisner did his homework, and what you see in The Crazies is based on a lot of research he did on virology.
Eisner said, “I worked with Robert Hall (of Almost Human Special EFX) in developing how the virus would look authentic when it manifested itself. There’s real symptomology in what the infected look like and go through. All of our symptoms are based on real-life diseases. I call it the greatest hits of awful diseases.”
When it came time for the government to step in and deal with the Trixie virus outbreak, Eisner went straight to the CDC to find out their containment protocols so that everything felt authentic. But when you are working at that type of level, bringing in hundreds of extras for the containment scenes of the movie, it can be very tricky when you have to keep budgetary concerns in the back of your mind.
“Making The Crazies on this type of scale with our budget was definitely challenging,” explained Eisner. “What’s great is that everything looks bigger and better than what I could have imagined when we first started. The real money saver is that every single location in the film is 100% authentic. We built two walls for one fight scene, and that is it.”
“What I loved about the locations in Iowa or even in Georgia was that there really was nowhere for these characters to hide, which was part of the message of the movie. There was nowhere to run from this outbreak, nowhere to escape from the government or the threat of harm, and that only helps you feel vulnerable when you see the film,” Eisner added.
I spoke to Eisner about his decision to cast Timothy Olyphant as Sheriff Dutton, a guy who is generally known as the bad guy in most of the roles he plays. Eisner said the decision behind Olyphant was an easy one for him.
Eisner said, “The funny thing about Tim is that he is naturally a charismatic guy. In so many of his previous roles you know you should be rooting against him, but he’s so great to watch, you end up rooting for him in the end. I just knew that he would be the kind of guy that audiences would connect with and would want to cheer for, and that’s a testament to his talents as an actor.”
Eisner recently shared his version of The Crazies with the Godfather of Modern Horror, Romero himself, who was pleased with Eisner’s take. The director said that as nerve-wracking as it was waiting to find out Romero’s thoughts on his film, there was one fan in particular he was the most nervous about pleasing.
“The biggest horror fan I think I’ve ever met is Brett Wagner, who happens to play a hunter in The Crazies,” Eisner explained. “He got hired for the shoot and admitted to me at the start that he was pretty suspicious about us remaking Romero’s film. He wasn’t even convinced by the time we finished shooting that the movie was going to be any good. But he did get to recently see the film and loved it so that’s what I was really hoping for. If I can make Brett happy, then I know I did my job as a director.”
With The Crazies set to hit theaters next week, I asked Eisner about two projects that have been rumored to be on his slate for the future: Flash Gordon and The Brood.
“With Flash Gordon we are working on a new draft of the script that we need to submit to Sony in the next couple months, but we are definitely moving forward,” Eisner said. “This is definitely not a remake of the 80s movie at all; this hearkens back to the comic strips of the 30s and 40s by Alex Raymond. It’s a project I’ve pursued for years because I have always loved sci-fi and genre films and have always been a big fan of the Flash Gordon story,” added Eisner.
However, one project that Eisner isn’t exactly 100% on board with just yet is the remake of David Cronenberg’s The Brood.
“The Brood is in the very preliminary stages,” explained Eisner. “I was just recently approached about it, and I don’t even know if I am going to do it. I’m not sure that it’s something I want to do yet so honestly, right now it’s not even on my radar.”
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