George A. Romero is often slated as the father of zombie films. “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) comes to mind when I think of his extraordinary filmography. When I learned about The Amusement Park being discovered after all these years and restored by the George A. Romero Foundation, I began to ponder how he would change what seems like an ordinary day at a place that usually brings people joy into a bizarre chain of events.
Romero did that indeed with an ordeal that affects the lifestyles of senior citizens. Although this film was shot 46 years ago, it still rings true today. That is what makes “The Amusement Park” most frightening.
No, it is not your typical flesh-eating zombie apocalypse trying to eat everything in its sight but it was definitely a real-life horror that swallows its elders from the mind to the soul. No left-overs are served after the world seems to be uncompassionate about a generation of people who helped build and nurture their off spring.
“The Amusement Park” rides through time like an emotional roller coaster that is hard to get off. The unorthodox narrative still reeks with simplicity when it comes to the subject at hand. Somehow Romero knows how to balance the complexities of life with straightforward sentiments. As creatively diverse as the imagery is, the underlying message never gets lost.
Stage and screen actor/singer Lincoln Maazel, who also starred in Romero’s psychological horror film “Martin” in 1978, gives an honest heartfelt depiction that truly honors the plight of the elderly in America – especially during that particular era. It makes me wonder if he was re-enacting scattered pieces of his own story.
The rush of society also played a prominent role in this film. Although the core statement was focused on the older characters, I felt like the younger folks were more so pushing anything that was not “up to their speed” out of the way of their ultimate mission – which can also include the disabled.
Romero has a great way of showing this in many of his films. He was never afraid to add layers of injustice over the -isms he chose to display which plague the masses.
The Amusement Park is (normally) a fun place that all should enjoy. Using it as the backdrop to examine the horrific experiences elders endure is just as horrifying when people walk around in a zombie state of mind – not feeling or connecting humanity.
I rate the film 5 out of 5 beats on the MMTrometer.
The Amusement Park premiered today, June 8, exclusively on SHUDDER (Shudder US, Shudder CA, Shudder UKI and Shudder ANZ).
Samantha Hollins, aka Ghetto SongBird, is a multi-talented Rock singer/songwriter, guitarist, poet/writer, photographer and all around creative soul who passionately enjoys sharing her positive artistic energy and harmonic vibes. You can follow her group The Culture Rock Griot on Facebook and get additional information at her site Theculturerockgriot.com.