The thrill of the Rollercoaster is in many ways the same as the thrill of the movie. All but magnified and shortened. In this thriller from the 1970s it is also akin to a Hitchcock film. Where people are dangled on a fast-paced ride, they must side with the guy taking on the villain and said villain has set a deadly series of devices in theme parks across the country. Timothy Buttons is said villain. He with the one style acting stance and vocal range of a voice box. George Segal is the hero, safety inspector Harry Calder. He receives phone calls from Buttons villain and his boss Simon Davenport, played by one of Hollywood’s great Henry Fonda. Also, along for the ride is Agent Hoyt played to grimace loving perfection by Richard Widmark.
Released in the same year as Star Wars and the exceptional Sorcerer, it was always going to be hard for Rollercoaster to gain any traction. It is a classic cinematic troupe film. You have the disaster (popular format in the 70s), you have the hero being outwitted by a remorseless enemy and you have a classic nasty villain. What you get with Rollercoaster is a really good by the number film. It has all the necessary ingredients. It also has a skilfully written script, that allows punchy dialogue. Giving Segal and Widmark room to butt heads and bellyache. Then director James Goldstone (he of the film the gang who couldn’t shoot straight) directs with an eye for Hitchcock and one for clever visual story telling. His eye also seems to have picked very clever framings of action that allow the shot to hold and the event to play out.
The Disc has two versions available. One is the US trimmed version. The other a slightly more visceral German version labelled as UNCUT! The transfer for the US version looks better but the German version is tougher in good ways. The extras are a mix of over done and astounding. The best is the commentary by Allan Bryce and David Flint, two film historians that have a reach and feel for the subject. They are frankly so knowledgeable you must jump back to soak it all in. The booklet will be grand as well but sadly I didn’t see it!
Includes both the U.S. theatrical cut and the German “uncut” version.
Brand New Extras
- The 1970s: A Rollercoaster of Disasters: A new documentary on Rollercoaster and the era of disaster movies, with film historian Simon Fitzjohn
- Commentary with Allan Bryce and David Flint
- Booklet: Includes Fear Factor: The Anatomy of a 1970s Thriller by Scott Harrison and Sensurround – A Rollercoaster Ride by Allan Bryce
- An interview with Associate Producer / Writer Tommy Cook
- Theatrical Trailer
Duration: 128′ 07″
Dual mono PCM
Duration: 128′ 20″
Dual mono + Lfe PCM