4 More Days Until Halloween #2, 2012: CRAZED (1978)

Four more days til Halloween. My modus operandi now is to post two movies a day: one that is questionably good, but interesting to me (and possibly you) for some obscure reason, and one that is a “classic” or an act of genius (…but which is still comparatively unseen in America).

It is easier to wax poetic about films I feel need defending or championing, like THE JAR. I feel less motivated to describe and analyze films like CRAZED because I presume others will like it, or at least recognize it is good. Of course I often find I’m wrong…

Instead of waxing poetic, I’m going to copy a rather nice review from IMDB. Before doing that, however, I would like to say something brief. I referred earlier to how I loved the writing in some “so-bad-it’s-good” horror films. Well, some independent, low budget horror films have fantastic writing…ON PURPOSE! CRAZED is one of those movies. The shorthand character development is wonderful, and definitely an homage to Alfred Hitchcock at his dark humored best (WONDERFUL one liners in this film!). Beyond homage, however, CRAZED works as what I can, without much pretentiousness, call a deconstruction of Hitchcock, particularly PSYCHO. In CRAZED, “realism” meets with and obliterates Hitchcock’s sentimental, stylized interpretations of violence (and human nature) – and yet the end result is not a purely nihilistic act of provocation like most similar horror movies (particularly contemporary, post-HENRY:PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER movies that deceptively stylize “real life” violence with “realism”). You don’t leave CRAZED feeling like less of a human. In fact, CRAZED deciphers Hitchcock and finds humanity in it.

That isn’t to say that it hits you over the head with a message, either. Comparing the final scenes of PSYCHO with CRAZED is telling. While we’re privy to the internal monologue of Norman and the “I wouldn’t even hurt a fly” statement chills us with its irony, CRAZED simply shows the murderer staring for a moment at an insect on his hand and then howling wildly. Freeze frame (best ever freeze frames in this film, BTW). The end. No inner monologue. No explanation for why the bug triggered this behavior other than the fact, the undeniable fact, that he’s “disconnected” from normal reality and in terrible agony for no good reason. There are no good reasons.

You might call what I just wrote “waxing poetic”. I call it “brief”.

Here is an informative and fair review from IMDB:

“Filmed on a meager budget sometime during the later 1970s, this is an intriguing forerunner to the glut of psycho/slasher fare which dominated the horror genre for a decade following the release of HALLOWEEN. Unfortunately more-less forgotten, CRAZED is a well handled and out-of-the-ordinary project with exceptional performances, and it deserves a broader fanbase.

Spare on the sensationalism common to films of this variety, emphasis is instead placed on the anguish of a dissociative young man in an emotionally fragile state. Tortured as a child(as seen in flashbacks), years of physical, mental, and sexual abuse have rendered him a socially disconnected and passive adult, trudging through his life with a horrible dead-end job and humble subservience to his hoary, demanding landlady. His awkward amatory anxieties are piqued by a young lady who takes residence in the room next to his, then a tragic card is suddenly dealt by the hand of fate. In this moment of unfortunate circumstance, a contrite and most pitiable killer is born.

Rarely frightening in conventional ways, CRAZED is nonetheless effective in its phlegmatic gravity…the story is thronging with an unrelenting pervasive sadness, straight through to its benumbing closing shot. Impatient viewers may find the methodical slow pacing a chore to endure, but to those with tastes leaning toward a more visceral brand of horror, CRAZED comes highly recommended.”

CRAZED is no longer streaming on YouTube.  Nor can I find a bootleg distributor with a basic Google search.  Happy Hunting!

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