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This movie is about an aging trucker named Elegant John Howard. Howard decides he and his truck Elenor has one more good run in them, and with the help of a hitchhiker and a few others he will make it happen.
The plot is about a guile young terrorist who is able to blackmail a series of companies by placing home-made radio controlled bombs within the central attraction of amusement parks; roller coasters. The young man played by Timothy Bottoms gives a hard time to the cops after they give him UV marked money. He then wants revenge and places a bomb in a roller coaster at the most important amusement park event of the year. Written by
Some movie posters for the film featured a long preamble that read: "You are in a race against time...and terror. You are pursuing a nameless, faceless man through America's greatest amusement parks...and, for the first time, you are experiencing the most sensational rides of our time, IN SENSURROUND". See more »
When Young Man places the bomb in the Revolution car, he is sitting in the left seat. Yet when the next ride occurs, the bomb is under the boy who is sitting in the right seat. See more »
Wrong psychological profile, Harry. I'm not in this for kicks.
Roller-coaster is directed by James Goldstone and co-adapted to screenplay by Sanford Sheldon, Richard Levinson and William Link, from a suggested Tommy Cook story. It stars George Segal, Timothy Bottoms, Richard Widmark, Harry Guardino, Susan Strasberg and Helen Hunt. A Panavision/Technicolor production in Sensurround, it features music by Lalo Schifrin and photography by David M. Walsh.
A psychopathic bomber known only as "Young Man" (Bottoms) causes terror at American theme parks. When safety inspector Harry Calder (Segal) is brought in to investigate, it sets off a cat and mouse game as the "Young Man" ups the ante....
Even now Roller-coaster is still wrongly being lumped in with the disaster movie genre that surfaced in the 1970s. Released at a time when that particular genre of film was fading out, Roller-coaster is anything but a disaster movie. What it is is a psychopath based thriller that adheres to procedural values and character involvement. As it runs at nearly two hours in length should notify viewers that it isn't a film chocked full of Roller-coaster sequences and explosive pyrotechnics. Yes, there's some exciting "Coaster" sequences, neatly shown to us in POV, and in spite of the (obvious 1970s) use of dummies for the plot set-up carnage, this thrives on human interest and race against the clock suspense.
The marker is set early on as Bottoms' smirking killer sets up his first murderous act whilst listening to some deathly string arrangement on his cassette player. We then segue into fun fare music as the joys of the amusement park brings a warmth and calm to the viewer, this is soon vanquished as the terror a terrorist can bring comes to the fore. From here on in the Bottoms character remains mysterious but we know just what he is capable of, so does Segal's character, as do the likes of Widmark's Agent Hoyt and the rest of the "suits" frantically scratching around trying to avert further tragedy as the fresh faced bomber demands money with menace. This ensures the bulk of the film is made up of Calder and Young Man interactions and police procedural movements. It has much talk, very much so, but it's well scripted dialogue and heightens the tension as we enter the final third.
One of the few films to feature the Sensurround gimmick, the film perhaps logically loses much impact on the small screen. Prints of the film are only adequate, and the sound mix doesn't shake your lounges in the way it certainly did back in 1970s theatres. Yet this is still a damn fine suspense picture, a film that also carries with it some stoic performances from Segal and Widmark, and a chillingly effective villain turn from the undervalued Bottoms. Henry Fonda is on the credits, but really it's just a cameo appearance, while there's much interest value in watching future Academy Award winner Helen Hunt as the young daughter of Harry Calder.
Expect a taut thriller like Two-Minute Warning that was released the previous year, and you hopefully will not feel let down. Expecting a two hour disaster movie full of Coater Carnage will only lead to disappointment. 8/10
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