Black Sunday is the powerful story of a Black September terrorist group attempting to blow up a Goodyear blimp hovering over the Super Bowl stadium with 80,000 people and the president of the United States in attendance.
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
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 »
Partially filmed at Ocean View Park in Norfolk, Virginia (including the destruction of the roller coaster). See more »
The last portion of the movie at Magic Mountain is depicted as taking place on July 4th but in fact it's easy to tell the filming was done during the winter months. The trees in the park are all dormant. See more »
[speaking to each other over walkie-talkies]
First, Harry, I think I should tell you about the bomb. Would you like to know where it is?
You're holding it.
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This film was generally released uncut in cinemas and later in the 1980s on VHS. However, at the end of the 1980s/the beginning of the 1990s, a few seconds were removed from the ending of the film (bodies lying on the floor, a one second close-up of the young man's face, bloody and with his eyes open). This version was used worldwide for subsequent TV airings, VHS re-release and then DVDs. 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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