SoH Reviews: The Amusement Park (1973, 2019)

It’s a pieced together lost film of iconic director George A. Romero.
It’s filled with surreal images and very pointed commentary.

Thanks to Shudder and the George A Romero Foundation, we can finally watch a film that isn’t about gore and blood and getting a “scaredy cat” reaction out of you, this is more of a slow burn of a shock film.

We’re going to briefly discuss The Amusement Park.
theamusementpark1

This film, I wasn’t expecting much, as I typically do whenever I watch something new. My expectations are always low but since this was a Romero film, I was definitely intrigued. And I wasn’t disappointed but I can see how an average viewer of horror would be if they’re thinking they are about to get blood, guts and gore. This movie isn’t about this.

This movie is all about a political and social commentary of being old, getting older and how the world perceives you and then treats you. We’re busy following our lead Lincoln Maazel introducing the film and then we get right into the weirdness. He plays an older gentleman in white and we start seeing that this “amusement park” is operating on this level of “anyone older, we’re targeting specifically” because of the signs that read about income at $3,500, retirement property, a lot of things that our seniors are forced to deal with when they reach a certain again.

theamusementparkIt made me go “man getting old sucks” even while watching the weirdness of a rollercoaster, a train ride where it seemed like people carried their belongings or just trying to do whatever everyone else is doing but you can’t because you’re older. A big moment that stood out to me was a couple, who wanted to get on the bumper cars and the wife is able to drive because she passed the eyesight test yet the husband wasn’t able to pass the test and can only be a passenger. Only for the couple to get into a “bumper car crash” while riding. See if you can spot Romero in an acting role during this scene 😉

Maazel is observing these events, how everything is just a little bit off, until he himself is the target of bullying, random robbery, assault and is left to take care of himself. No one is helping him or consoling him. He’s hurt and yet everyone is walking around and passing him, just on their merry way.

This film is clearly a commentary on getting older and how the world just wants to get rid of you and use you as a punching bag. The beginning and ending are the same cycle, repeating itself. A bonus is that you can clearly see Romero’s filmmaking process throughout the film, the little touches that you know from watching other Romero films and if you’re interested in other films where he touches on commentary, obviously Night of the Living Dead/Dawn of the Dead are great starters. Another suggestion is The Crazies, which I watched last year in the height of our pandemic and how crazy the similarities are.

The Amusement Park stars Lincoln Maazel, Harry Albacker, Phyllis Casterwiler, Pete Chovan and Sally Erwin and is directed by George A. Romero and I will give this short film a 3.5 out 5 stars. I do recommend this, it’s interesting to see a film in between Night of the Living Dead and then The Crazies, before we even get into commentary on mall culture with Dawn of the Dead.

It is only available on Shudder so please check it out!

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