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After Playboy TV decided to toss it bunny rabbit ears into the amusement park gone wrong movie arena they made this made for tv trash hit in my hometown of Norfolk, Virginia. Yes I lived in Norfolk, Virginia from the year I was born in 1974 till 1980 when the family decided to move to Charlottesville. The plot of this movie was just like Roller Coaster and Amusement Park, something just might go wrong despite everything feeling right. The destruction of the The Skyrocket Roller Coaster was a devastating sight on tv. Local News Teams covered the making of the movie and the actual blowings up of the wooden coaster. After several failed attempts the final explosion which I can not recall the number was the one that brought down it down and Norfolkians stood in silence and total shock as the hills and turns came tumbling down to the ground. The roller coaster that had brought such fun to Ocean View Residents and to all residents of Hampton Roads was finally gone. Today most of the coaster beams that were not scorched or destroyed in the blasts now make up some of the colonial houses and barns in Williamsburg, Virginia. Today Ocean View is a crack addict neighborhood where only the dregs of society live. Thanks alot Playboy TV you ruined one fine beach neighborhood.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A response to previous comments made by residents of the region where
this motion picture was lensed: One person suggested that the closing
and destruction of the Ocean View Amusement Park led to a downturn in
the surrounding neighborhoods. This is simply not true. Prior to the
construction of Interstate 64, which bypasses the Ocean View area, the
primary route for traffic went through the heart of Ocean View. Once
the interstate was completed, Ocean View rapidly became a ghost town
with businesses closing up and an increase in crime. This led to a huge
reduction in revenues for the park, which also faced new competition
from nearby Busch Gardens in Williamsburg. Meanwhile, in the past few
years, the City of Norfolk has done a remarkable job of fostering
redevelopment so that the area has become a sought-after location for
construction of high-end housing.
It has also been said that the destruction footage of the roller coaster was used in the film "Rollercoaster". This is also untrue. Footage was shot of two coaster cars careening off the ride for that film, but the actual explosions and collapse are exclusive to "Death of Ocean View Park".
As to the film itself, the storyline of a "supernatural" force in the water adjacent to the park was certainly silly, but somewhat typical for B-grade movies of the time. With the cast involved, there should be no surprise that the scenery was gnawed in almost every scene by the primary actors. I don't believe this film was intended to be another "Citizen Kane"; I believe Playboy was experimenting with a new non-nude format to determine if this was an area for the company to expand into (apparently not!). A strange force in the water causing strange events in an old amusement park probably sounded good at the conference table, but proved unmanageable in execution. The roller coaster and the rest of the park was destined for the wrecking ball anyway; "let's come up with a weird way to justify an explosive demise!".
For the casual movie viewer, this would be a "see once and forget about it" film (except for Diana Canova fans); but for the thousands of people who live in the region and have fond memories of the park, this movie is like a "walk down memory lane" for footage of the park as well as old footage of downtown Norfolk, the first "Harborfest", and Old Dominion University. Even a limited release of this film on DVD would be welcome.
In 1906, Sam Jackson's father opened Ocean View Amusement Park in
Norfolk, Va. Years later, Sam can no longer afford to run it himself
and he has had to sell out to a corporation that intends to use the
park as a centerpiece for its Paradise City development. Sam, a widower
with three children, is in charge for the most part, but the
corporation (represented by Tom Flood) has the final say.
Shortly before the big July 4 celebration, a hurricane is headed for Norfolk. Will the park survive? That's not really the most important question. Although the park appears to be in good shape, it is apparently possessed. Weird things are happening.
Sheila Brady, whose husband Phil works at the park (though he doesn't exactly have an amusement park personality), is having nightmares and visions of the park being destroyed in a series of explosions. No one listens to her because she is just a crazy pregnant woman. Or so her husband believes. And a thorough inspection shows the park to be in perfect shape--though we keep seeing a close-up of the one problem no one knows about that could cause Sheila's visions to become a reality. Sheila does seek the advice of a professional knowledgeable in these matters.
Billy is a U. S. Navy sailor who wants to lose his virginity. Jenny is the cotton candy girl at the park who wishes she were pretty like her sister. Paula is a former park employee who does weather research for the U. S. Navy.
This was not just a bad horror movie, though this theme kept coming up. The romances made the movie somewhat more pleasant and even provided comedy. The anticipation of a possible disaster added suspense, though the park's "demon" gave the movie a little more edge and suggested it could be scary. If you like the classic horror movies, though, don't get your hopes up.
Not all the acting was bad, though considering the cast, I would have expected much better. Mel Stewart gave one of the best performances as a park employee, mainly because his character thought most of the white people were racist, and he occasionally provided comedy relief by acting like he was the slave obeying Massa. A woman essentially playing Susan Sarandon's "Bull Durham" role, whose name I didn't catch, also impressed. The university researcher who examined Sheila was convincing enough. Diana Canova as Sheila, on the other hand--if she was trying to come across as a bad actress, she succeeded. I was actually hoping this woman would never act again. But I have heard of her. So maybe, just maybe, she was going overboard on purpose.
The climactic event was quite well done, and those who know the park's true story would understand why. I guess it was a pleasure to watch, except when one considers the obvious reasons why it wouldn't be. After all, some major characters could have been seriously hurt or worse.
This was actually okay.
The Death of Oceanview Park fits the part for a TV Movie trying to be mildly scary. Actually it more accurately fits the 1970s idea of a silly TV trying to be mildly scary. The movie never really ties itself together and gives the impression that it was written and/or pieced together on a rainy Sunday afternoon. It has several paranormal phenomena that serve as the scary throw-ins, but they never resolve themselves or show how they actually fit in to the movie's events. The acting appears serious, almost too serious, but this only makes the movie that much sillier. Although this movie is bad, it's a great movie for a few laughs and a look into 1970s "made for TV" filmography. Beware of the roving sand bump!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
DEATH OF OCEAN VIEW PARK was just that a girl saw these things happening in her dreams then they happened. the park was really demolished it had been in the movie ROLLER COASTER two years before this film. in all a great movie not available on DVD come on bring it out don't be too lazy. in all a great movie although i feel OCEAN VIEW PARK should not have been destroyed like this its roller coaster THE ROCKET looked the finest now sadly missed. DEATH OF OCEAN VIEW PARK a fine movie see it if you can, i hope it comes out on DVD. a film like this came from the era of disaster movies its one of my favourites yet i haven't seen it for ten years and its a classic picture so see it when you can its excellent.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As an outsider and a roller-coaster enthusiast, i feel like i have visited Ocean View park(I wish i had if i could turn back time i would be there ) as i have watched "Rollercoaster" and "The Death of Ocean View Park" time after time. Although I have only managed to watch "The Death of Ocean View Park" very recently since the early 80's, as i have only just managed to get hold of the original TV 16mm movie reels and had this transferred onto DVD.I know there are people out there desperate for this movie so i would be happy to make some copies for personal use providing my costs are covered.As far as the film goes it is a watchable story line and the views of the Sky Rocket are superb although it does sadden me when they blow it up and pull it down this must have been an awful day for Ocean View Residents.Nowadays this coaster could have been saved as a Historical landmark like the cyclone at Coney Island!
I live on Oceanview unfortunately! I'm not a crack head or a dreg, it's just the only place thats affordable to live in the area. I agree with you, I have read the history of Oceanview and the destruction of the park was a big class boo boo for Norfolk.....I would love to see the movie any idea where i could get a copy in the area? What was Norfolk thinking about at the time....we're suppose to have a few hero's who's bringing changes to the area ....Where are they ? Maybe they need to come down here and live for a few weeks and see the prostitutes and drug deals and knifing that happen and thats just near 11th bay street. not to mention the gang houses here. i thought you was suppose to clean out the bad from the area not the good people, Wake Up Norfolk!
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