The Death of Ocean View Park (TV Movie 1979) Poster

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A calmer, more accurate View
kenn-johnson-122 February 2006
Warning: 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.
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One of the most unbelievably ridiculous 70s films that may or may not be a serious thriller...
VENEZIADOGE13 February 2001
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!
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Saw it come down
GENTRY228 September 2002
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.
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Not just a bad horror movie
vchimpanzee1 March 2007
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.
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What A Shame This Film Had To Happen!
gyrolaser1 October 2006
Warning: 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!
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death of ocean view park 1979
COLIN_GAIL7 December 2005
Warning: 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.
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starfishinva5 November 2005
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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The "Citizen Kane" of "Movies of the Week!"
Atomic_Brain5 September 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Possibly the "biggest" film ever produced specifically for television, The Death of Ocean View Park is also probably the best, in the sense of a grand melodrama with high dramatic impact and abundant allegorical import, and comes across as something of an epic in the benighted "Movie of the Week" phenomenon. The film's main theme, deftly conveyed, illustrates in stark relief the impending death of the carefree, innocent and fairly liberal 1970s, a searingly sad event for some of us. Rising from the ashes of this death was the ominous spectre of the soul-crushing conservatism which would haunt the hideous 1980s. The (historically accurate) destruction of Ocean View Park at the film's climax, exploding and collapsing into Mother Earth, is certainly the premiere metaphor for this seismic ideological shift in America, but the extremely cunning screenplay addresses this theme in many other interesting ways.

As with all good TV movies of the era, there are one or more heterosexual couples featured front and center, each dealing with current socially-relevant topics and espousing trendy political views of the day. Here, we have exactly three power couples, each espousing roughly the same proto-family values ethic. First is Sam, a widower with three precocious children, a lonely man obviously looking for a mate. Sam states several times that his mission is to preserve the legacy of his father, who built Ocean View Park in 1906, so his character's devotion to traditionalism and conservative values is made clear from the outset. Enter old friend Paula, a creepy female Naval Captain whose career serving Empire has been less than fulfilling. Sam and Paula are thrown together by the upheaval surrounding them to become a faux-family by film's end. Couple Two: Sheila and Phil are hard-working schlubs who are trying to start a life together, but Phil is too dedicated to the amusement park (i.e., the past). Meanwhile, Sheila is "with child," and at a portentous moment, Phil asks Sheila if she wants an abortion, and Sheila screams "No!" as if it's the most horrible idea in the world. This couple is thus set up as a regressive political force, perfect for the ultra-conservative decade waiting just around the corner. (One of the film's many outre subplots involves Sheila's nightmarish premonitions of impending disaster, psychic powers bequeathed her only after she became pregnant, thus entirely symbolic as an allegorical forecasting of the approach of ideological doom in the upcoming decade of horrors.) Yet perhaps the most indelible couple is #3, Jenny and Billy, two lonely virgins who magically find each other at a cotton candy stand, itself a winning emblem for American infantilism in the service of nostalgia. Jenny (winningly played by Mare Winningham) is an ugly duckling, the star of a rather whorish family, the only one with a strong work ethic and a sense of romantic decency. In other words, she is a lost soul in the sleazy, sex-obsessed 1970s, and will only blossom in the Uber-traditionalist 1980s. Billy is a young soldier on leave, sent off to get initiated by his morally corrupt fellows, but he is too pure to achieve sexual release with a lowly prostitute, because he is at heart a traditional family man, a one-woman kind of guy. (Whether by design or accident, the portrayals of Jenny and Billy are so clownish and overdrawn, they at times come across as not merely shy or naive, but mentally challenged.) Connecting all of these couples in a most circuitous yet powerful way is the hilariously-named Tom Flood, played astonishingly well by Martin Landau. (As others have noted, Landau made a sea change in his career when he dumped his silly and wooden "leading man" pretentions and dove enthusiastically into evermore complex character roles.) Landau starts his character as a very stereotypical, very greedy (and very Jewish) businessman, but ends it as a sacrifice (literal and figurative) to the gods of neoconservatism returning to America. Landau gives his life so that the All-American Virgin Proto-Couple Jenny & Billy may survive to propagate the 1980s with their god-fearing middle-class babies.

The clearly supernatural hurricane which threatens the park, and the silly paranormal occurrences which counterpoint the threats to this landmark, eerily symbolize the ominous approach of the neoconservative political juggernaut, so soon to despoil America. Even a destroyed sand castle on the beach, which park owner Sam obsesses over, acts as apt symbol for the collapse of a precarious innocent myopia of the decade this film punctuates.

Although the various dramatic subplots are not always woven with complete success, the overall result is a kaleidoscopic collage of life at the end of an amazing decade, with an almost Fellini-esque atmosphere ascendant at times. The film features many idyllic scenes of happy folk cavorting in a carnival atmosphere, wonderful and endearing sketches which paint the 1970s as the largely carefree, even Dionysian era which it was to many of us. Ocean View Park itself symbolizes as monument the notion of middle class leisure and abundance, one of the most cherished social phenomena of the postwar era. (As many know, many amusement parks were originally built in the early 20th century by trolley car companies wishing to create entertaining destinations for tourist passengers on their ever-expanding transit lines, the resultant parks representing an apex of the industrial revolution and its gifts of excess leisure time to the hard working masses.) Yet hovering over all of this supposed innocence is the sinister presence of the U.S. military, via the various characters assigned to the nearby Naval Base in Norfolk, Va., as well as the abiding presence of Naval warships right on the shores of Ocean Park: a clearer depiction of creepy military presence in domestic America could not be imagined.

As for the climax, a leaking gas line may be a sloppy or trite deus ex machina for the truly apocalyptic cataclysm which signals the wholly symbolic "death" of the popular cultural landmark, but it does act as an effective metaphor for the accruing societal pressures, social, economic and ideological - which were percolating throughout that lovable yet troubled decade, and had to explode at some point. And these scenes, of the demolition of the magnificent wooden roller coaster, are indeed both thrilling, and somehow unbearably sad.

Credit for a large part of the uncanny impact of this amazing film must go to producers John Furia and Barry Oringer, who also wrote the terribly clever, arguably subversive screenplay. It would thus appear that the largely allegorical nature of the film was intentional, as so much of that thematic content is clearly expressed in the screenplay. Furia and Oringer would go on to mount the popular anthology series Hotel, one of the high watermarks of 1980s mediocrity, a required destination for pretty much any TV star of note through the decade.

1979 was certainly a good year for bright, insightful even self-reflexive theatrical movies, as witness this short list: Americathon, The Concorde: Airport '79, Apocalypse Now, The Warriors, All That Jazz, Quadrophenia, Being There, The Black Hole, Hair, The Brood, The Rose, etc. As for the "lowly" TV movie, 1979 was certainly the genre's zenith, with heavy hitters such as: I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Orphan Train, Vampire, When She Was Bad, The Miracle Worker, The Two Worlds of Jenny Logan, The Jericho Mile, All Quiet on the Western Front, Elvis, and... The Death of Ocean View Park, perhaps the Citizen Kane of Movies of the Week. Call this amazing film a sublime requiem for the 1970s.
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Ocean Park.
morrison-dylan-fan25 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
After recently watching two movies with a run time of 60 minutes,I decided to check for what other flicks I have waiting to view. Picking up the film after reading an outline that made it sound like a proto- Final Destination,I got on the roller coaster.

The plot:

Waving goodbye to her husband as he sets out to work at the local amusement park, Sheila Brady gets visions of a roller coaster at the amusement park burning down. Going to the park,Brady finds her warnings to get ignored. As Brady begins getting recurring,strange things start taking place at the park.

View on the film:

Taking three days/three attempts to shoot,(a real 80-year-old roller coaster at Ocean View was actually destroyed) director E.W. Swackhamer & cinematographer Travers Hill actually get a fair bit of bang for their TV movie bucks,with Swackhamer gliding the camera along the burning roller coaster,and looking down on the ground covered in unlucky punters.Made for Playboy TV, the screenplay by John Furia and Barry Oringer avoids any raunchy action or Horror thrills from the "vision", for a tame Drama/Thriller tale,where Brady's concerns are lightly brushed aside. Giving the TV flick a shot of glamour, cute Diana Canova, (who is joined by a likable Martin Landau as Tom Flood)gives Brady a wide-eyed terror of life on a roller coaster.
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Good old scheme but it works.
searchanddestroy-120 October 2019
Instead of sheriff Brody warning the Amity mayor of the gigantic shark on rampage near the beach, which could jeopardize the not less gigantic parade planned to celebrate Independance Day - rememeber JAWS and its sequels - you have here Mike Connor's character warning about a huge rollercoaster structure which threatens to collapse at anytime, not speaking of a big hurricane in approach...So, you deal here with a classic disaster film, and thriller in the same time. AIRPORT meets ROLLERCOASTER, with sub characters stories and so on.
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Spent My Summers Here Until It Was Closed!
jsmith98-117 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I love this movie, it reminds me of my youth. I lived in Norfolk as well and I was so saddened by the park closing. It was a great place with a pretty scary Rollercoaster. I was just 9 when it was torn down. I remember the last day this park was open. I also saw "The Rocket" , the true star of the show hold its own against the explosive charges set to demolish it! The mighty Rocket was not going down without a fight! It's terrible that it was actually bulldozed down. It was a great time to be a kid. The scary clowns at the entrance that we're blinking back and forth to the fake "fat lady" and her constant Erie laughing, This was the best place to be as a kid. Somewhere in my junk, I have a pennant from the park on that terrible day they closed forever with some autographs from a few of the stars. Most are dead or their careers are dead.

I guess that Bigger parks like Busch Garden in Williamsburg VA. helped put all of the great old amusement parks out of business. Not to mention the decline in the neighborhood and the death of drunk Sailors who would stand up on "The Rocket". It wasn't much longer and Buckroe Beach Amusement Park was out of business as well. Insurance was probably more than the owners could afford. To this day, I can remember my stepbrother making me ride "The Rocket", and it terrified me, but I'm glad he did so. It's the one rollercoaster that made me a wooden rollercoaster fan! Now sadly the greatest coasters around the country are removing the best part, the wooden track and steel rail and just replacing the best ride for a smoother ride. It really sucks. The rough ride is what makes a wooden coaster a great ride!

There's nothing there now, except a few restrooms and a park that is a crushing spot. It's been 40 years ago but it seems like yesterday. Now living in Texas with my Husband of 20 years. We got officially married in 2017, but I always tell him stories about this part of my life! It's also been over 20yrs since I've been to this area. Google Earth keeps me posted on my old stomping grounds.
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It is so bad it is funny
sonofvabeach-907-68352326 January 2014
First off I was about 8 years old when this was made for television movie was made. This is a classic from where I come from because I live in the city where it took place. This is not a scary thriller the if it had not ended up on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 it should have. But it is so funny because it is so bad. I used to live where Ocean View Park Amusement Park and it would have been fun to have a roller coaster in the area but no they had to go and build a bunch of condos where it used to be! At least each year they do bring a amusement park like festival instead. This is one of those fun stupid movies like the Toxic avenger or Night of the Lepus not with Movies like Star Wars or Halloween. Granted it is semi historical because the place did exist but it was not demolished due to exploding gas tanks under neath the ground. However it was the in place to be when it did exist.
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