The Amusement Park

The Amusement Park ★★★★★

When the Lutheran Society decided to make a film about ageism, they went at it in the most inexperienced way possible, as you'd expect... They funded George Romero, and when he rocked up with the results, they were horrified.

Were you trying to make your point or not? Because if you ask me, George delivered your message in spades...

Shot in 1973, we're talking peak Romero here. This is before he becomes Mr. Zombie, and was instead making thought-provoking horror, that despite his budget constraints, always hit home. And Amusement Park is no different.

As anyone reading this probably knows, the Lutherans then lost their nerve and buried the film, to be forgotten until a print emerged in the years following the great man's passing.

And there's something about the grainy 16mm footage, the legend of lost reels, the idea that this was a document forever erased from history, that plays exactly into the message of the film. In our frantic, erratic, post-digital world, this artifact conveys it's point maybe better now than it would have ever done so had it been released in 1973.

Lincoln Maazel introduces us at the beginning of the film, and he tells us, quite succinctly, that the world is a beautiful place, trapped in single moments of wonder that we can cling onto, but that eventually evade us, particularly as life passes us by into old age. And Romero documents this idea in a heartbreaking, horrifying 50 minutes.

This isn't a lost Romero narrative feature. It's not something that fits comfortably between Season of the Witch and The Crazies. It's a different beast entirely and yet it features all his hallmarks. It is phenomenally edited. It's not just in the parts that no doubt the Lutheran's found horrifying, but in how he composes a scene, how it slowly creeps up on you, how the ideas of each monent slowly unravel through the faces, or the passing people in the foreground that drown out our guy into the background. It's astonishing filmmaking.

And now, Romero has his Wild Strawberries. He's grown in stature as a filmmaker over the years, even finally gaining more than a cult appreciation for his lesser known pictures such as Martin, but he's never quite received the true appreciation as an artist.

The Amusement Park puts that debate to bed in an emphatic way.

ᴊᴏᴇ liked these reviews