- Director: George A. Romero
- Writer: Wally Cook
- Stars: Lincoln Maazel, Harry Albacker, Phyllis Casterwiler
Even in death, George Romero is still one of the most fascinating, smart , politically and socially brutal filmmakers. Of course his masterpiece trilogy Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead are the template of almost every zombie film and TV show since then. However due to some issues (too many to go in to depth in a review) Romero found himself having fight for the money and resources he needed to make his art. After Night and before Dawn started, in 1973 Romero was offered a film to shoot by a Pittsburgh based organisation called Lutheran Services about how old people are viewed, abused, disrespected in society (I guess things haven’t really changed). Romero made the film for them and the Lutheran Services were so appalled that they buried the film, possibly knowing that Romero didn’t have the money or time to fight to get the film released. However, here we are now, 46 years later getting the opportunity to watch an unseen Romero film that was restored by the George A. Romero Foundation and produced by George’s wife Suzanne Desrocher-Romero.
Maazel stars as an elderly man that begins his journey is a very stark and sterile white room. He enters the room and finds another elderly gentleman sitting down. He is a bloodied, broken man and he warns him not to go out there – ‘There’s nothing out there. You won’t like it.’ Despite the warning, he enters through the door to the amusement park. Quickly you realise that things aren’t good in the amusement park, at least they aren’t good for the elderly. Everywhere he looks he sees the elderly being treated poorly. From the ticket collector, grifting the other elders out of their money or precious keepsakes to the ghouls that appear on a train ride through the park, Romero is at his most blunt here, even more so than his dead series. Really ramming home the point over and over, it is far from subtle but the point is well made.
It’s a low-fi, genuinely unsettling film, that clearly isn’t Romero’s best but really cements what he was about. A man who has a social conscience and has no fear in letting that be known. We do miss you George.
The Amusement Park is available on Shudder June 8.
Ryan Morrissey-Smith | Twitter: @TigersMS78