The Curator of Schlock #372 by Jeff Shuster
That George A. Romero sure has a big imagination.
Getting back to the story about how Edwige and I barely made it out of Mooseville, a small town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. I drove the truck and the place was like a ghost town. I saw no one except for a freckled-faced kid playing hacky sack by himself. I asked him where the canning factory was, told him I was here to save the town. The kid then straightened up, pointed his index finger at me, and screeched with all his might. Then, one by one, villagers appeared and surrounded us. To be continued.
This month, I’m delivering five chilling movies from Arrow Home Video and will don the persona of Curator of Shock once again. This week’s terrifying classic is The Crazies from director George A. Romero. The movie begins with two children finding their mother slain and their dad acting very peculiar. By peculiar, I mean, he’s breaking the pottery with a baseball bat and dousing every room with gasoline. Then, shockingly, he sets the house on fire.
Two firefighters, Dave (Will McMillan) and Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), arrive at the scene of the fire and can’t believe Mitchell would murder his wife and set his house ablaze. Dave’s pregnant fiancé is a nurse named Judy (Lane Carroll) and she’s helping Dr. Brookmyre treat the burn victims. Soon, the army shows up and commandeer Dr. Brookmyre’s office. Under the orders of a Major Ryder, the entire town of Evans City is now under quarantine. No one can leave or enter without official authorization. Hazmat suits and gas masks are now the standard for all government officials occupying the town.
It seems that a plane carrying a bio-weapon (codenamed Trixie, naturally) crashed in Evans City and infected the water supply with a deadly virus. Infected citizens either die or go stark raving mad. There’s a wonderful scene of a kindly old grandmother knitting a sweater while rocking in her rocking chair. When a couple of the hazmat soldiers show up to her place, she gleefully stabs one of them to death and goes right on knitting as if nothing has happened.
More government officials arrive in the form of Colonel Peckmen (Lloyd Hollar) and Dr. Watts (Richard France). Both of them had worked on the Trixie project and are felt to be the best ones to deal with that mess. Colonel Peckmen demands that every citizen in Evans City be rounded up and put in the high school as Dr. Watts works on a cure. Dr. Watts complains about not having the right equipment, the bureaucratic red tape, and having to wear the gas mask.
Meanwhile, Dave, Clanck, and Judy are hiding from the authorities, trying to figure a way out of town before they catch the disease. They’re holed up with a father and daughter that are showing signs of losing their minds. Dave and Clank manage to shoot and kill some of the soldiers roaming the town. Clank even manages to take out a helicopter. But while the occupiers may be incompetent, they still greatly outnumber any resistance the town is giving them.
Eventually, Dr. Watts discovers a potential cure for Trixie. He gets so excited that he leaves the lab without his gas mask. Two hazmat guards confront him, thinking he’s one of the local townspeople. They force him into the high school with the rest of “the crazies” and he gets trampled to death, the cure disappearing with him.
Colonel Peckmen gets called away to Kentucky where the local citizens are experiencing similar symptoms. I’m sure everything will turn out fine.
Photo by Leslie Salas.
Jeff Shuster (episode 47, episode 102, episode 124, episode 131, episode 284, episode 441, episode 442, episode 443, episode 444, episode 450, and 477) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.