Directed by George A. Romero
Written by Walton Cook
Starring Lincoln Maazel
Films go lost for tons of reasons; they are made of highly flammable chemicals, they weren't stored properly, and occasionally because nobody thought there was any interest in hanging on to the film that was discarded. Once a film of interest becomes "lost" it can take on mythic status. The people who did see it, rave about it, and certain film fans will become ravenous with desire. Their hankering to see the film will build it up in their minds to something it never was, nor could it ever be.
Enter George A. Romero's THE AMUSEMENT PARK, a film released on Blu-ray 46 years after its completion, a film that never had distribution and was never intended to. See this particular slice of celluloid was commissioned by the Lutheran Society as a PSA against ageism and elder abuse. What Romero delivered was a psychedelic fever dream that handles the subject of aging with nightmarish glee.
MARTIN's Lincoln Maazel stars as an elderly man who finds himself disoriented and increasingly isolated as the pains, tragedies, and humiliations of aging in America are manifested through roller coasters and chaotic crowds.
The AMUSEMENT PARK starts in a way that feels similar to what we've seen in other industrial or educational films. A narrator walks around the film's locations explaining what we are about to see, the reason the film was made, and the message it's trying to convey. This anchoring to the familiar makes what happens afterward all the more foreign and unnerving.
The film is only 54 minutes long but watching it is like being transported to a place where time no longer exists. Was it 10 minutes or 10 hours? Romero delivered these unsuspecting Lutherans a vignette of increasingly bizarre scenarios where our lead character is beaten down both physically and emotionally.
Romero's “lost” film was restored in 4K by IndieCollect and looks incredible. For a movie that was shot for $37,000 nearly a half-century ago, this thing looks stunning. Romero has never been known as a visual maverick but THE AMUSEMENT PARK is one of his most compelling works from an aesthetic perspective.
With over 100 minutes of bonus features, many of which are only available on the DVD and Blu-ray release, fans will learn what went on behind the scenes of THE AMUSEMENT PARK with assistant cameraman Michael Gornick in an audio commentary; discover what it took to restore the film 46 years after its completion in an interview with Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, president and founder of the George A. Romero Foundation; go for a ride with the late Director of Photography Bill Hinzman's wife, Bonnie, as she recounts her favorite moments working on the film both behind the scenes and on camera; learn what Ryan Carr, an illustrator for the George A. Romero Foundation, has been crafting in an interview on THE AMUSEMENT PARK graphic novel; join Shudder's Samuel Zimmerman in a panel interview with Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, President of IndieCollect Sandra Schulberg, Executive Producer and Director of AMC's "The Walking Dead" and genre legend Greg Nicotero, and author and writer Daniel Kraus as they discuss the film and Romero's legacy; discover the problems of the aging in our society with the official Amusement Park brochure and script; and explore life behind the camera with a behind-the-scenes photo gallery.
- Blu-ray and DVD Bonus Features Include:
- Audio Commentary with Michael Gornick
- Re-Opening The “Park” with Suzanne Desrocher-Romero
- Bill & Bonnie’s Excellent Adventure with Bonnie Hinzman
- For Your Amusement with Artist Ryan Carr
- Panel Interview with Suzanne Desrocher-Romero, Sandra Schulberg, Greg Nicotero and Daniel Kraus moderated by Shudder’s Samuel Zimmerman
- THE AMUSEMENT PARK Official Brochure
- THE AMUSEMENT PARK Script
- Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
Should you buy it? Surprisingly powerful and effective, THE AMUSEMENT PARK is far more than a curiosity for the Fangoria crowd. This is top-tier Romero, one that should be considered along side his most well-regarded works. To me, this is a must-own. I'm not sure how many times I will revisit it over the coming years, but I love that it will be sitting on my shelf.