“All hell’s broke loose in town; nobody knows what’s going on!”
When a madness-inducing biological agent is accidentally dropped by the U.S. government into the water supply of Evans City, Pennsylvania, the military arrives to quarantine the town; but many of its citizens have already started to go crazy from the effects of the virus, and chaos soon erupts.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- George Romero Films
- Science Fiction
Five years after making his auspicious debut film — Night of the Living Dead (1968) — George A. Romero wrote and directed this like-minded tale of a small town struck with mass hysteria; this time, however, rather than relying on a supernatural plot device (zombies), Romero — ever the social critic — places the blame squarely on the U.S. government. In an enormous FUBAR — Vietnam, Iraq, or COVID-19, anyone? — the United States initiates a deadly mess (why would they let a virus without an antidote leave the CDC to begin with?) then completely botches its own efforts to keep Americans safe. Perhaps predictably, it’s up to a small group of “revolutionary” citizens — including a volunteer fireman (W.G. McMillan) and his pregnant girlfriend (sympathetically portrayed by Lane Carroll):
— to escape and defend themselves; but there’s no telling when the virus may catch them as well. Despite its occasionally uneven narrative, this bleak, timely cautionary tale (remade in 2010) is well worth a look.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- An effective portrayal of paranoia and chaos in the face of government-induced catastrophe
- Several powerful, shocking scenes — including a priest setting himself on fire, and a grandma calmly stabbing someone to death with her knitting needle
- Fast-paced editing
Yes, for its status as a cult movie.
- Cult Movie
- Important Director