Many of us have the fear of aging and, with every passing year, we face the vulnerabilities of our mortality. How our society handles or, more emphatically, discriminates against our elderly is one of the glaring faults within our atmosphere. Too often our society finds our aged generations as unimportant and disposable as they reach the end of their lives.
The Amusement Park, a rediscovered movie that was considered lost in the works of the late and legendary filmmaker George A. Romeo, now produced by Laurel Tape & Film and Yellow Veil Pictures and distributed by Shudder, provides a time capsule to the time around 1973 and shows how the geriatric crowd is subjugated and segregated then as it still is now.
An Older Gentleman (Lincoln Maazel) enters into a white room with his doppelganger. While he is standing inside the room in a crisp, dapper white suit, his double is sitting and hunched over in one of the chairs in the room. The double’s white suit is dirtied and crumpled, like the bloodied white bandage that adorns his face along with various reddish scabs and scratches. When the cleaner version of himself implores his haggard twin to go outside, the other refuses and moans that, “there’s nothing out there”.
The clean version of the elderly individual ventures out of the sterile white room and is enveloped into the bustling environment that is an amusement park. This gentleman walks to the entrance of the park with various people of similar age who hawk their “precious” heirlooms in order to obtain entrance and, in the process, get swindled by the Park Attendant (Michael Gornick). Once inside, he endures a gauntlet of senior abuse in terms of what rides he can partake in, weird objects of death on a carnival train, how the elderly are treated in terms of driving an automobile via the bumper cars, a brush with the grim reaper along with a mugging at the hands of a demented motorcycle gang are among the various encounters he endures within this lurid funfair. Despite his attempts at a good time, he is constantly reminded of his dwindling mortality that drains his lifeforce at every turn.
Clocking in at a scant 52 minutes, this movie has an industrial training film feel that, in this timeframe at production date, would fill various company and school movie screens. These films would range from light comedy in regards to fast food employee safety to the grisly, horrifying, and true to life accident footage that would scare the hell out of you after completing the driver’s education exam. Mr. Romero opts for the terrifying in his industrial take on aging with the knowledge that, no matter how old you are, this will be your future unless a change occurs in the way we treat our elders and ending our selfish materialism.
Professor Tony Williams, head of Film Studies at Southern Illinois who saw the film 30 years ago, stated, “The film is far too powerful for American society…It must remain under lock and key never seeing the light of day.” Fast forward to the present,and it still provides shocks of truism today with the skill and precision that makes Mr. Romero’s vision of social commentary cloaked in horror still relevant beyond the grave.
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