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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

The Amusement Park (1975)


Starring: Lincoln Maazel, Harry Albacker, Phyllis Casterwiler, Pete Chovan and Sally Erwin
Distributor: Acorn Media International
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 12
Release Date: 17 October 2022

Acorn Media International releases – for the first time on UK Blu-ray – the short film The Amusement Park from Night of the Living Dead director George A. Romero. Just short of 50 years after its completion, the film has been rediscovered and restored. It was released in selective cinemas in 2019, and now this Shudder Exclusive is available to a wider audience via retail sale and digitally. Martin (Lincoln Maazel) is an elderly man who purchases tickets for a day at an amusement park. What he believes will be an ordinary day emerges as a sustained nightmare, as he learns how the senior citizens are (mis)treated or ignored by the general populace in the chaotic surroundings of the crowds and rides. The release incorporates new artwork and a number of extra features...

The first thing you will discover when watching this curious movie is that the amusement park itself is an allegory for life itself. It exists in order to provide examples of obstacles, pitfalls and general ignorance the elderly come across in everyday life – in many cases, treated as second-class citizens, if they are considered at all. Bearing in mind when this was made (1973), it was not only an original idea but a very serious subject put across fairly dramatically. I’m not certain the central character’s reactions are entirely believable, and this is one drawback of having all the allegories of life in one location and on one day. However, it makes its point well. Right from the start there is a queue of elderly people having to trade their worldly goods for tickets and being right royally stitched-up.

A well-handled scene depicts a young couple entering a fortune teller’s tent, only to be shown in graphic detail what they will suffer in the twilight of their lives. There are two attempts to innocently converse with a little girl, only to be shouted at and threatened as if a potential sexual predator. It is telling that this example is given even back in 1973. I remember Tom Baker once stating in an interview that parents only allow their young children to approach two strangers: Father Christmas and Doctor Who. I’m not even sure this is the case anymore, and that’s sad. All of the interacting or peripheral people in The Amusement Park come across as strangers, offering the whole almost a documentary feel. It’s not entertaining but address a problem which still hasn’t been addressed/rectified all these decades later.

Extras include: an Audio Commentary by 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; a 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; and a Behind-the-Scenes photo gallery.


Ty Power

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