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George A. Romero's The Amusement Park (1973, 2021) - Movie Review

George A. Romero's The Amusement Park

Forty-six years in the making, The Amusement Park, written and directed by George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, The Crazies, Martin), finally sees the light of day thanks to the George A. Romero Foundation and producer Suzanne Desrocher-Romero who, recognizing just how important this allegorical tale is to Romero’s legacy, makes sure it arrives in the most fashionable way possible: sterling silver 4K gloss.

"offers viewers an alluring snapshot of Romero's early artistic capacity and an unflappable visual style that would go on to inform his ensuing filmography"


Starring Martin Lincoln Maazel and originally produced by the Lutheran Society, The Amusement Park is a pure Romero through and through as it serves as a most important message to its audience.  Except the message here is not one based on civil rights; nor is it based on mindless consumerism.  The Amusement Park, beginning with the deafening sound of a ticking clock, is a poetic look at that disorienting feeling of growing old.  Something we ALL will do, yet know not what the experience is like.

But, here, with the youthful screams and joyous laughter of kids and teens on roller coasters at an amusement park we witness the horror, the pain, the humiliation of aging as one man stumbles against the tide in this continuously chaotic crowd.  Ageism?  It’s all here in The Amusement Park, an experimental horror film from the maestro of horror.

The Amusement Park is a strong and strange mediation on the elderly and old age, a group we often dismissed as not productive to society.  We make jokes about their inability to use a phone and jokingly refer to them as “boomers” or, when I was growing up, blue-haired ladies who can’t see above their dashboard.  It is a horror film which uses an amusement park in order to get its point across, serving as a metaphor on the disorientating and increasingly isolated pains of aging.George A. Romero's The Amusement Park

Recently discovered 46 years after its completion by the George A. Romero Foundation and restored in 4k by IndieCollect in New York City, this low budget offering is proof of Romero’s unique vision for film as a medium.  The Amusement Park is filled with scenes involving the elderly trying to hawk their valuables and getting dismissed time and time again.  What they value is not valued at all and the dealer refuses to give them anything but $5 for their goods.  Other scenes, see the elderly getting aboard a tram only to be laughed right off it and then, in a bizarro horror sequence, a driving accident with bumper cars in which all our ageist views come to life about the elderly and their driving abilities.

Considering that The Amusement Park was filmed in 1973, the same year that The Crazies was filmed, I have to wonder what the hell the Lutheran Society was expecting?  When commissioned to make a movie on aging, Romero gives them a 52-minute tone poem.  He delivers and they shut it in a vault.  Sure, sure, we probably wouldn’t be discussing this release if it didn’t have Romero’s name on it, but STILL this movie is RIPE with disturbing images and situations which beg for interpretation as the bleak landscape of mortality gets the nihilistic treatment.  It isn’t pretty to look at, but its hard to walk away from.

Through all of its over-the-top carnival ride ups and downs, The Amusement Park offers viewers an alluring snapshot of Romero's early artistic capacity and an unflappable visual style that would go on to inform his ensuing filmography. It’s an art house film for the horror crowd and, with little to no plot, is all about the impressions it paints on America’s ignorance when it comes to aging.

The Amusement Park is available to stream exclusively on Shudder beginning on June 8th.

4/5 stars

Film Details

George A. Romero's The Amusement Park

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
Runtime:
52 mins
Director
: George A. Romero
Writer:
Wally Cook
Cast:
Lincoln Maazel, Harry Albacker, Phyllis Casterwiler
Genre
: Horror | Thriller
Tagline:
See you in the park, someday.
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor:
Shudder
Official Site:
Release Date:
June 8, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:

Synopsis: An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead.

Art

George A. Romero's The Amusement Park

 

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