George A. Romero’s “Hellish” Lost 1973 Movie The Amusement Park Coming to Shudder
George A. Romero passed away in 2017, but his legacy as one of the pioneers of the horror genre remains absolute—especially for what he did to the zombie genre with Night of the Living Dead. That is what makes the rediscovery of The Amusement Park such an exciting prospect.
According to IndieWire, the film was originally commissioned by the Lutheran Society to raise awareness about ageism and elder abuse, which Romero, using his love of allegory, turned into a twisted story about an elderly man going to the amusement park.
The Shudder synopsis reads: “An elderly gentleman goes for what he assumes will be an ordinary day at the amusement park, only to find himself in the middle of a hellish nightmare instead. Shot by George A. Romero between ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘Dawn of the Dead,’ ‘The Amusement Park’ is a bleak, haunting allegory where the attractions and distractions of an amusement park stand in for the many abuses that the elderly face in society. 4K digital restoration commissioned by the George A. Romero Foundation and carried out by IndieCollect.”
Romero’s widow has said that it is “George’s most terrifying film…It has Romero’s unique footprint all over it.”
Daniel Kraus, author and collaborator of both Romero and Del Toro, watched a cut of the film three years ago and reportedly called the project a “revelation” and “Romero’s most overtly horrifying film” other than “Night of the Living Dead,” adding it’s “hugely upsetting in form and function,” according to IndieWire.
“The scholar Tony Williams, who saw the film 30 years ago, wrote, ‘The film is far too powerful for American society…It must remain under lock and key never seeing the light of day,’” Kraus says about the film. “It was never shown publicly. The people who funded it wouldn’t allow it. And no wonder. It’s hellish. In Romero’s long career of criticizing American institutions, never was he so merciless.”
Well, consider my interest very deeply piqued. Romero is one of the directors I often name drop when trying to explain why “elevated horror” is a weak-sauce term, because many directors in the genre already were using it to express the ills of society. It looks like The Amusement Park will be doing that, and just the trailer alone made me feel creeped out and uneasy.
The film premiered in Pittsburgh on October 12, 2019, to a very limited audience but will now be available on streaming through Shudder.
(via IndieWire, image: Shudder)
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