(director/writer: George A. Romero; screenwriters: Paul McCollough; cinematographer: S. William Hinzman; editor: George A. Romero; music: Bruce Roberts; cast: Lane Carroll (Judy), W.G. McMillan (David), Harold Wayne Jones (Clank), Lloyd Hollar (Col. Peckem), Lynn Lowry (Kathy), Richard Liberty (Artie), Richard Frances (Dr. Watts), Harry Spillman (Maj. Ryder), Will Disney (Dr. Brookmyre), Ned Schmidtke (Sgt. Tragesser), W.L. Thunhurst Jr. (Brubaker), Leland Starnes (Shelby), Robert Karlowsky (Sheriff Cooper); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: R; producer: A.C.Croft; Pittsburgy Films; 1973)

It might not be profound but is effective in showing how terrifying a civil emergency can be if handled in the wrong way.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”/”Dawn of the Dead”) co-writes with Paul McCollough and appealingly directs this shocking sci-fi film, that is fast-paced and relentless in showing how screwed up things can get when the government lies.

It might not be profound but is effective in showing how terrifying a civil emergency can be if handled in the wrong way. The small town of Evans City, Pennsylvania is placed under martial law and is sealed off as it’s invaded by over a thousand army soldiers wearing white Hazmat suits after a military plane carrying an experimental biological germ warfare weapon, with the code name Trixie, crashes. The virus caused can’t be detected until it’s too late, as the victim will either die or go violently insane. The arrogant army leader Col. Peckem (Lloyd Hollar) brusquely acts without informing the public as to why all the townies are rushed to the high school. Some of the infected start killing the soldiers and others, in this NRA gun-owning community, also resist and shoot at the soldiers on patrol. The film focuses on a pregnant nurse (Lane Carroll) and on her former green beret boyfriend (W.G. McMillan), who resist and while fleeing to get out of the perimeter end up in gun battles with the soldiers. The others with the couple are a widowed father (Richard Liberty) and his teenage girl (Lynn Lowry), involved in a incest relationship. Also there’s the hyper wannabe green beret, Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), who is infected and looks at this chaotic scenario as a chance to show off his military skills.

Romero’s social commentary is interested in pointing out the dangers of secret military programs and how people will push back when pushed too far if they have the means to do so. In a metaphorical way it shows the insanity of the Vietnam War and how it was forced down the public’s throats by those who couldn’t speak with either truth or conviction.