The Amusement Park is a recently discovered film from iconic horror director George A. Romero. Originally produced in 1973, the film was made to be an educational film about elder abuse and ageism. It was never released due to its disturbing content. Of course, things were much different back then. Is the movie really that bad, or was it just another case of pearl clutching?
While it may seem silly to commission Romero to make such a film and be surprised by the outcome, it is important to remember Night of the Living Dead was only five years old at the time. He was not known as a horror director yet. His short resume even included a romantic comedy. Having him make a public service announcement is not as wacky as it may initially sound.
The Amusement Park is a not so subtle commentary on age, economics, and race. As an elderly man (Lincoln Maazel) spends a day at the titular location, he has encounters that mimic real life. Time spent on rides and getting food serve as effective metaphors. The film is a combination of frightening and sad. It is arguably Romero’s most emotional movie.
Things play out in a series of claustrophobic moments. The Amusement Park does not work in manufactured scares. Even calling it a cautionary tale would not be exactly correct. It is a terrifying look at society. Does The Amusement Park belong in the same rarified air as Romero’s other classics? Things get downright depressing and a strong argument can be made this is his scariest work.
The Amusement Park comes to Shudder June 8
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