I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 156 years.
George A. Romero
Before you begin to adjust your television set and wonder why those sideburns are so long, just know the late great George A Romero (Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, practically everything from the dead) shot this movie back in 1973.
According to the story I heard around the campfire (I looked on the internet), some religious organization asked Romero to make a movie about how to treat the elderly because apparently those meddling kids with their long hair and their loud rock and roll music and their funny smelling cigarettes and their iPhones and drive-in theaters and their DeLorean time machines and their streaming services and their cars with loud speakers in the back and their bell bottomed pants just weren’t treating the elderly with the right amount of respect.
George Romero did make that movie, but it was so surreal and horrific that said religious organization scrapped the idea and buried the print, making sure the movie would never see the light of day. You ask the father of zombie movies to make a movie about treating the elderly and you’re really surprised about that what you get might be unsettling?
Sometime in the late Aughties someone found a print, cleaned it up and released it into the world. So if you like amusement parks and you like seeing elderly people get abused by young people—
--- then The Amusement Park just may be the movie you’ve been waiting forty-eight years to see.
No, you really shouldn’t.
Then it all works out.
Synopsis With Second Hand Smoke Because It’s the 70s
The Amusement Park opens with a dapper elderly gentleman in a white suit (Lincoln Maazel). He doesn’t have a name, so we’ll just call him a random name every normal male has like Bradley Cooper. Bradley is so excited to go out today..
There’s just one thing. Bradley Cooper is in his 70s.
Bradley has been looking forward to going to the amusement park for the better part of his entire life and nothing is going to stop him. But someone is going to try.
That someone is an elderly man in a white suit (Lincoln Maazel in a dual role, what special effects can do these days). He has a bandage on his forehead and bruises all over his body. If we didn’t know any better we’d say this totally different old man is the spitting image of Bradley Cooper except dirtier and bloodier. Again, this was the 70s and they decided it was completely fine to go riding in a motorcycle without a helmet so…
Disheveled old man warns Bradley Cooper not to go to the amusement park. No good will come of it.
Bradley Cooper tells the old man to f*ck off and then pushes him down the stairs. No one tells him he can’t go to an amusement park even though he’s in his 70s.
Fair warning- this movie is largely plotless as it consists of old man Brad walking around in an amusement park getting in adventures and all in all having a terrible time because he’s old and young people suck with their Watergate and their short shorts and their Charlie’s Angels and their bowl cuts and their pop rocks and Coke and their—
Where was I?
Our young, um, old friend Bradley goes to the amusement park even though he can barely afford it. He’s determined to have a great time.
By the end of the day Bradley may be far from amused. His walk in the park may not be such a walk in the park. Something about getting old but I can’t remember and where did I put my pills?
What Works With The Amusement Park
- Though relatively quaint by todays standards, George Romero does direct some sequences that hit harder than you’d expect. The man who invented the zombie genre forces you to watch the real life terror of getting older with no one to care for you. You almost feel as bad for Lincoln Maazel as you do for Duane Jones in Night of the Living Dead. Almost.
- A simple scene on a park bench elicits empathy and sadness at the same time.
- At a mere 53 minutes long, Romero makes his points and exits quickly before any boredom has a chance to build up.
- Not sure if this was just the 70s aesthetic in general, but the amusement park itself looks and feels like a death trap. There’s a safety hazard in every frame.
What Doesn’t Work With The Amusement Park
- A prologue and epilogue that are completely unnecessary as they tell you nothing you don’t already know or can’t figure out on your own. As stated before, the movie’s 53 minutes but you wasted 3 of them old-splaining.
Romero fans looking for fantastical scares might not be amused to see The Amusement Park, but it’s more than worth a watch. Zombies have nothing on the ravages of old age. True life terror rarely felt so immediate. An afterschool special from a horror master that stays with you longer than you’d expect.