The horror movie master was commissioned by Lutherans to highlight the problems of ageing – and his rediscovered 1973 feature is certainly disturbing George Romero’s deeply odd, brief feature – an absurdist nightmare featuring silent-movie style melodrama acting – was made in 1973, long considered lost and now restored and rereleased. It was commissioned by the Lutheran Service Society, who were hoping for a film about the problems of growing old and the necessity of helping and respecting older people, and were reportedly upset by how Romero interpreted the brief. What he gave them was a very disquieting and upsetting fantasy about a distinguished, kindly old gentleman in a dapper white suit wandering around a crowded funfair, only to discover that the fair (like life itself) is for the young; the old people are there to be patronised, infantilised, bullied, ignored, robbed and terrorised. A mishap at a bumper car ride ends with a bizarre appearance by a traffic cop and an insurance agent who are all sure that the old person must be in the wrong. A sinister “see your future” sideshow tent astonishes a pair of young lovers by revealing to them their destiny as a poor, sick old married couple and the man is so enraged he assaults our white-clad hero – because he is old. A “freaks” display turns out to be a simple parade of old people. And so it goes on.
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