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The Amusement Park

Directed by George A. Romero
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Time for something completely different from the zombie master himself, George A. Romero, as his lost film, Shudder exclusive THE AMUSEMENT PARK comes to DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK.

THE AMUSEMENT PARK is not your ordinary type of horror movie. The nearest thing I can describe it as like is the old public information movies of the 70’s commissioned by the UK Government that were both educational and frightening as they warned their audiences of dangers. This is what Romero’s THE AMUSEMENT PARK is – a warning whilst highlighting the treatment of the older generation in a society that no longer deems them useful.

In the opening scene, we see a bruised and bleeding gentleman (Martin‘s Lincoln Maazel) hunched up on a seat in a white room, traumatised and unwilling to go out into the wider world. An identical man appears in the room but unscathed and clean in comparison. he tries to encourage the battered version to go outside, but the man refuses and warns against doing so. Unperturbed by this, the clean suited gent decides to see for himself, and ventures through the door into the titular amusement park.

As you would expect, the park is bustling with people having fun, eating candy floss and queuing for rides, but what is noticeable is how the elderly are treated at this park. Shuffling around on their zimmer frames and walking sticks, these frail but still very ‘with it’ people are treated like second-class citizens. They have to sell personal belongings to simply enjoy the park, receiving very little in return for their prized possession. However, once in the park, they’re met with signs saying “you can’t enjoy this ride if you suffer from the following”. This is just the start of an abundance of social commentary on how the aged are treated, as society is quite happy to take their money but then look the other way when it comes to their health, happiness and care. It’s a pretty damning statement about life for the elderly in a world that only seems to be interested in you when you’re young and useful, despite paying tax over a lifetime.

In the film, we see how businesses, the state, religious organisations, healthcare systems and even how our fellow man treats you when you’re older. In one instance, we see the gentleman encourage some young kids over to chat to him, and he’s instantly called out by a man accusing him of sickening things. Whilst there are weirdos out there, you can’t tar everyone with the same brush, and this is what we have to face in today’s world, where an elderly man cannot speak with the younger generation without being accused. Fortunately, I was brought up to respect my elders and many older people are simply lonely and just want someone to talk to. This movie, even though it was made in the 970’s, is as relevant today as it was then, and whilst some things may have changed, a lot of it is unfortunately still true today. Sadly, I don’t ever see it changing due to how the world works. It’s a greedy, uncaring world that will eat you up if you’re not careful.

Stylistically, the film feels like a dream, or more accurately a nightmare. Closeups utilising strange angles gives an unreal aesthetic to it and intensifies situations, such as when the gentleman is shooed into an attraction which is clearly a nursing home where people are resigned to a monotonous existence. It’s horrifying to experience as a viewer, so imagine what it must be like for the older generation to be greeted with scenes like this when all you want to do is live a slower, but still enjoyable life.

At just over 50 minutes, THE AMUSEMENT PARK is a thought-provoking slice of commentary that serves as a warning as much as it highlights society’s attitude. It’s incredible that the film was found and saved, with thanks to Suzanne Desrocher-Romero for her work in pushing for its restoration and release so that it could be watched by cinephiles and Romero fans across the world.

An unwavering, haunting watch.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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About Bat 4389 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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