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|Index||74 reviews in total|
I read a review of this movie indicating that Seagal's acting "almost saved it." I would go farther and say that this movie is enjoyable primarily because of the acting. Segal's Harry Calder is very good and properly understated -- you get the impression of a nice guy with little ambition or tact. Widmark is also good as the know it all cop. However, Bottoms' blackmailer is even better! He plays the young man with the cold, calculating efficiency of the sociopath. Very understated, which is a sign of good acting. I'm reminded of a Jack Lemmon quote describing his early years in film when the director kept telling him "a little less." Bottoms give us the bare minimum, which is perfect for this character. The script is also good, taking what could be an action-only cliché and turning it into a suspenseful "how is he going to do it." Anyone who is looking for high drama or Hitchcock is going to be disappointed. But if you are looking to be entertained then it is a very enjoyable ride.
Roller-coaster is not a disaster movie. Do not cheapen it by labelling it with this tag. It is a suspense thriller. A lunatic is stalking Americas theme parks and sabotaging the coasters. Cue, Harry Calder(George Segal), a burned out safety inspector who is designated to track the maniac.A tense game of cat and mouse follows with the psycho using Harry as his confidant, calling him regularly, with an almost begrudging respect. This nut is so insane, he actually likes Harry!Timothy Bottoms is excellent, giving a super-creepy performance as the saboteur.Roller-coaster boasts great performances, superb photography and some classic dialogue exchanges. And hey, you've got Richard Widmark AND Henry Fonda thrown in there too! Roller-coaster - a seminal 70's thriller.
This is probably my favorite childhood film having seen it 30 times at
the theater during the summer of '77 (to put it in perspective I only
saw Star Wars 12 times) and it still holds up very well. I'm sure part
of that is the nostalgia factor as it seems to capture a time and
place(s) pretty well, but there's a bit more to its appeal to me than
that. It works because none of the characters are grossly exaggerated
caricatures but everyday men with foibles like struggling to quit
smoking. The Caulder character is identifiable because of his family
and work failings while Bottom's soft-spoken psychopath (which probably
would be portrayed as over the top if the movie were to be made now) is
much more in tune with an understated realism that most contemporary
madmen you see on screen today lack. While the Widmark character of
Hoyt is a pretty much by the book portrayal of a federal dick, his
sardonic exchanges with Segal lend an heir of authentic, yet begrudging
mutual respect. That credit should go to the screenwriters. Henry
Fonda's exchanges with Caulder are similar in their edge and that makes
for an understanding of what Harry is up against in trying to stop the
bomber. Susan Strasberg as Caulder's love interest is sympathetic, and
very pretty, but isn't given much screen time outside of being a nanny
for Caulder's daughter...a minor complaint to be sure.
After Roller-coaster came down from my long since demolished local three screen multiplex and had its initial HBO run it sadly all but seemed to disappear from my life, outside of an occasional run on late night TV during the eighties, but reappeared in 1998 when I stumbled upon a VHS copy from a company called GOODTIMES at a Tower Record store in Seattle. I was ecstatic. I still pull it off the shelf every once in awhile to remind myself that some of the minor films of the seventies that weren't appreciated in their day deserve another view.
A mysterious young man (Bottoms) derails a Roller-coaster with a bomb,
killing or injuring passengers, then attacks more amusement parks
across the US in order to extort $1m from the companies running them.
It is not immediately obvious that these attacks were deliberate, as
opposed to being accidents (e.g. through metal fatigue), so the
Amusement Park owners can keep what is happening quiet. It also makes
it easier for the extortionist as he has public hysteria to threaten
the owners with if they don't pay him off.
Harry Calder (Segal) works for Standards and Safety. He had inspected the derailed Roller-coaster, realises other amusement parks have suffered similar problems and finds out about the plot. Calder gets involved more deeply than he envisaged, as he becomes a reluctant 'bag man' for the $1m, whilst the FBI try to catch the mystery man, just as the US heads towards 4th July and a wealth of potential targets.
This movie is a decent suspense thriller and I have seen it several times. I have never regarded it as part of the 'disaster' movie genre and feel such a description is both lazy and inappropriate. Whilst the Roller-coaster crash scenes were fairly horrible for the time, they seem pale today. The horror is in the mind, and there are only a couple of such scenes in the movie. It is not therefore a bloody horror flick, either.
I don't know if this misconception comes from bad marketing, suggesting that this is a disaster movie, or if there were suggested scenes of gore and blood for the horror fans, in order to con people into the cinema, or if this is down to the critics of the time being lazy and perhaps even reviewing a movie they didn't see. I am a little too young to have seen or read anything at the time.
This is a suspense thriller, even though there is no suspense about 'whodunit', but the movie's style is familiar and it is no surprise to see 'Columbo' creators Levinson and Link in the credits.
The strength of this movie is the cynical, maverick, but quick-witted Calder character that is played so well by Segal. He also has the often-amusing story thread to play with of trying to quit smoking (you wonder if 'Airplane' got the "picked a hell-of-a-day to quit smoking" from Roller-coaster). Calder, we also find, is divorced from his wife, amicably, and has a daughter called Tracy (Helen Hunt, in a child role that hints of the actress to come), and he has a lover, Fran (Strasberg).
Widmark gives FBI Agent Hoyt authority and a little added depth as the film progresses and he spars nicely, if not quite equally, with Segal's Calder. Henry Fonda, in his 70s, essentially has a cameo as Calder's boss, and Strasberg is underused as Calder's girlfriend, in a role that you suspect may have had a little more to it in the script than there was in the movie's final cut. I smell a plot twist that was cut for some reason, perhaps time.
Bottoms is suitably chilling as the amoral, perhaps sociopathic extortionist, because he is young, good-looking, quiet, polite, intelligent, clean-cut, and, as he corrects Calder about his "psychological profile", this is for him a business transaction; he is only interested in the money.
Some may feel that this character is a bit thin, and this may (again) be down to a cut from the original script, but he might simply have been written that way. You don't really need to know more than you ever find out about this character, but because he is a cool, calm sort of a madman, as opposed to the more traditional 'raving lunatic', you may be left wanting at the lack of an obvious answer or explanation for his actions.
There are hints, however. As well as the sociopathic traits, he is an explosives expert, electronics expert, about 30 and, in an early scene, a decent marksman. In mid-1970s USA, what does that suggest? Perhaps the guy running the amusement park duck shoot has him correctly pegged; perhaps not. The Bottoms character simply smiles and walks away, staying mysterious.
There are also bit parts for Harry Guardino, Craig Wasson and Steve Guttenberg, and it features real life band, Sparks.
I recommend this movie. It is a suspense movie that appeals to the brain rather than a horror or disaster movie that appeals more to the senses. It has become a bit dated, as, for example, a $1m extortion fee seems small these days, and Roller-coaster rides were really at their height then, so the enthusiasm for the rides by adults indicates a bygone era, and a 70s movie in setting and style is too distinctive to be anything else, but that now becomes part of its latter-day charm.
Roller-coaster is also a duel of wits, with Segal perfectly cast, and Bottoms, as I say, suitably chilling. With both characters being intelligent and quick-witted, able to plan and to improvise, this adds to the plot, the tension and therefore the overall enjoyment.
You might also recall and bear in mind that this movie was made at the time of "Son of Sam", "The Hillside Stranglers" and Ted Bundy.
Unforgettable Suspense, drama which opens with a terrifying Scene Of a
derailment of a roller-coaster which is no accident, It's the work of
an unstable extremist(Timothy Bottoms),who is an electronics expert,
His sole purpose is to Blackmail $1 million from a group of amusement
George Segal, plays Harry Caulder, a likable safety inspector Who becomes Involved in the increasingly Tense, attempts to track down The saboteur,Richard Widmark plays a tough federal agent on the case, There is an extended cameo of sorts, by Henry Fonda Who plays Segals Boss, Roller-coaster has an excellent script by Richard Levinson &William Link. who have written episodes of Colombo,
Roller-coaster is a film first, Iam sure it was the first film to Feature a lot of early Steadicam work which admirably works well in the the opening and climax,
It also marks the debut Of Helen Hunt,A young Steve Guttenburg has a walk on part (Check out his afro! From its terrifying opening, to the tension filled finale Roller-coaster 'will have you on the edge of your seat!
Rollercoaster was released at a time when disaster movies were very popular. I guess that's why it's been labeled by many critics as exactly that. But it's not. It's a very clever thriller with some great dialogue. I wasn't too surprised that Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link co-developed the story and wrote the screenplay. Especially the conversations between George Segal and Timothy Bottoms are just as good as anything you've ever seen on Columbo. This is a very underrated movie and during all the Sensurround hype the finer qualities of it got overlooked. So maybe next time you get a chance watch it again. Perhaps you'll be surprised.
Roller-coaster was released in 1977 to capitalize on the disaster film craze of the 1970's. There's only one problem with this. This is a really good movie. Most of the disaster films of that era were full of cheesy acting and lousy writing ( excluding Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Towering Inferno). Roller-coaster boasts great acting, great plotting, and terrific suspense. The disaster scenes with the roller-coaster crashes are exciting. George Segal, Richard Widmark, and Timothy Bottoms deliver amazing performances. Segal plays the wisecracking reluctant hero with ease. Widmark channels all of the grit that made him a star back in the 1950's. Bottoms plays the psycho with a disturbing calm that will send chills down your spine. The only flaw with the film is quite surprising, Henry Fonda. That's right! I said Henry Fonda. Sacrilege, right? Fonda plays a minor supporting role, but manages to bring the film down to a lower level every time he is on screen. Every other actor in the film takes the script seriously and delivers a great performance. Fonda, however, seems to consider this an unimportant role in an unimportant film. He may have been right if other actors and another director had been involved. But Fonda was wrong. This is essential viewing.
Thrilling and entertaining catastrophe movie with some clichés and
stereotypes containing enjoyable performances from George Segal and
Richard Widmark ; dealing with a psychotic person who plans a massive
killing spree in amusement parks . Police and FBI are called in to
investigate and trace the crimes to a young man (Timothy Bottoms) , as
this is a race against time and terror . They are pursuing a nameless,
faceless man through America's greatest amusement park . This disaster
movie blends action , intrigue , breathtaking spectacle, suspense and
emotional byplay . ¨Rollercoaster¨ was a successful film that grossed
at box office . The FBI led by superior officer named Hoyt (Richard
Widmark) and helped by technical supervisor Calder (George Segal) learn
of the plot and rush to the scene , as the psychopath blackmails a
whole conglomerate of companies for a million dollars . Still , they
may be too late , as an all-star cast finds itself lined up in the
sights of a madman . They spend most of their time devising various
ways for avoid to psychopath carries out his aims : a massive killing
spree in parks and rollercoasters especially . As our heroes get stuck
in the before it blows up and when slaughter takes place they go into
action ; as they pay tribute to policemen . There takes place a
struggle between two forces , the cops along with FBI and the sinister
assassin and ultimately erupts when the crowd turns almost effortlessly
and devours itself in a climax of panic .
Exciting film that packs thrills , noisy action , overwhelming scenes , suspense , emotion and turns out to be pretty entertaining . This formula intrigue movie belongs to catastrophe genre of the 70s , being the undisputed king , ¨The towering inferno¨ along with ¨Earthquake¨ , ¨Two minutes warning¨ and many others ; this formula disaster movie was widely developed by Irwin Allen , previously winner of numerous Oscars for ¨Poseidon¨ until the failures as ¨Beyond Poseidon¨, ¨Swarm¨ and ¨When the time ran out¨ . ¨Rollercoaster¨ results to be an intriguing and thrilling film . Filmed at the height of the disaster genre from the 7os , this entry in the spectacular series profits of a strong acting by starring trio George Segal , Richadd Widmark and Henry Fonda . Good performance by Timothy Bottoms , the filmmakers later decided that the movie was more suspenseful if the motive behind the Young Man's actions were never known, as well as keeping the audience from sympathizing with the Young Man's situation . Succeeds in combining various talented actors , an all star cast came together that tie for film's top casting honors ; furthermore a top-notch secondary casting such as Harry Guardino , Susan Strasberg , William Prince , Robert Quarry and a teenager Helen Hunt and Craig Wasson , Steve Guttenberg's first film . Furthermore , most of the actors portraying police officials in the film were actual police officers from the surrounding area . And for the first time, you are experiencing the most sensational rides of our time, to be presented in "Sensurround", a special low-frequency bass speaker setup consisting of four huge speakers loaned by distributors to select theaters showing the film , this system was employed only during certain sequences of the film, and was so powerful that it actually cracked plaster at some movie theaters. "Sensurround" was employed in only three other films released by Universal: Earthquake, Midway, and the theatrical release of Battlestar Galactica .
Colorful and gripping photography in Panavision by David Walsh , including persistent high-angle shots , subjective camera-work and use of long lenses . Some of the amusement park scenes were shot at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia, just north of Richmond and also partially filmed at Ocean View Park in Virginia (including the destruction of the roller-coaster) and the roller coaster featured in the main climax of the movie is the Revolution at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA and was the first to feature a complete 360-degree vertical loop . Intriguing and thrilling score by Lalo Schifrin in his usual style . This big-budgeted disaster movie was professionally directed by James Goldstone , an ordinary TV movies director and subsequently made another catastrophe film , the disastrous ¨When time ran out¨ . Rating : Good and entertaining , it's a fairly watchable disaster movie.
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
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1977's "Rollercoaster" is one of my all-time favorite movies. My uncle
took me to see it in New York City when I was a little kid, back in 77.
Seeing this movie for the first time in the theater was really a
suspenseful experience. The suspense is fueled by the
extortionist/terrorist character played by Timothy Bottoms, and we're
made aware of what he's capable of at the beginning of the film when
he, with the use of an explosive, causes a terrible roller-coaster
crash that kills several people. This scene heightens our fear of him,
at least I feared him throughout the rest of the movie, and I was
hoping he wouldn't cause anymore crashes. But Director James Goldstone
obviously exploited this, as he tortured the viewer with suspense, as,
throughout the film, he never makes it clear about what Bottoms is
going to do, through cuts of Bottoms reaching into his pocket for
"something," or camera POVs looking like a roller-coaster train might
be derailing, suspenseful music, and other means.
Bottoms' character's goal is to extort money from the amusement park owners, under threat of causing more havoc. Safety inspector Harry Caulder (George Segal) and FBI agent Hoyt (Richard Widmark) are called in to try to catch Bottoms before he does anymore harm, leading to a cat and mouse chase that brings them to several amusement parks across America, as they go through the initial motions of cooperating with Bottoms' demands, while waiting for their chance to grab him. Caulder is the main character here, and he's the type that hates red tape. The movie is given some personality by dipping a little into Caulder's personal life -- he's divorced, trying to quit smoking, has a daughter, and a new girlfriend played by the late Susan Strasberg.
But finally, this exciting film climaxes at Magic Mountain near Los Angeles, where the final showdown between Bottoms, Segal and Widmark play out with great suspense, involving the new, at the time, Revolution metal looping coaster. To this day, as an adult, I still have an abnormal fear of rollercoasters because of this movie. And I remember going to Hershey Park in Pennsylvania about two months after seeing this film in 1977, and I remember how scared I was on the coasters there because of this film. Highly recommended movie. Mike R.
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