Class Action Park – A documentary about Action Park, an actual place in New Jersey that sounds totally made up when people talk about it. It was a poorly run but profitable amusement park where numerous guests were seriously injured and several died (six is the figure I’ve heard, but I’m sure that doesn’t count the people who died afterwards from injuries sustained at the park), yet it somehow remained in operation from 1978 through 1996. The founder and CEO, Eugene Mulvihill, a shady but allegedly charismatic former stock broker who was fired for selling worthless stock, came up with most of the ride designs himself despite having no idea how physics worked. It was mostly staffed by teenagers, and alcohol was freely available. It’s just weird that this was in operation for my entire childhood, when I went to a fair number of amusement parks in the eighties, and they were incredibly concerned with safety. There was one point when someone died at a major theme park (it might have been Great Adventure), and the others became much more conscientious about checking harnesses and such. Meanwhile, you have this one place in New Jersey where they aren’t even taking the precautions these other parks took BEFORE the deaths. Based on what the film said, Mulvihill was a convincing liar with some powerful connections, and he often just flat-out broke the law, like when he created his own fake insurance company to insure the park. And deregulation was all the rage in the Reagan administration. It eventually caught up with him, but people who went there often have fond memories of it as a place without rules where they could test their mettle. I don’t think I would have wanted to go there, as I wasn’t someone who sought out danger (that’s not to say I didn’t do some dangerous things, but that was generally because I was oblivious to the danger), and I got the impression it promoted a culture of bullying. The documentary is fascinating, though, an exploration of a place designed by a madman that somehow managed to thrive for some years. In addition to interviews and promotional material, there was a fair amount of animation to fill in the gaps. One bit that stuck with me was when Mulvihill just had a desk out in the open, like in Monty Python interstitial material.
The House of Yes – I believe Beth originally put this on our Netflix queue for Thanksgiving, but since we didn’t have time then we just watched it last night. It’s a weird, disturbing movie that Beth saw in one of her college classes, and is based on a play. A girl called Jackie-O, who is obsessed with Jackie Kennedy and JFK’s assassination, is in an incestuous relationship with her twin brother, using a reenactment of the death as foreplay. She was also recently released from a mental institution, and hasn’t been taking her medication. The brother, Marty, is trying to have a normal life in New York, and brings his fiancee home to meet his family. Jackie-O is disturbed, their mother who lets her daughter get away with anything wants the fiancee to leave, and the other brother, Anthony, tricks the fiancee into having sex with him. The title refers to the mother’s never telling her kids they can’t do something; she’s aware of the incest, but hasn’t made any effort to stop it. Tori Spelling plays the fiancee, Lesly, probably because her father produced the movie. That said, it’s hard not to like her when she’s the only reasonable character in the whole film. Parker Posey plays Jackie-O, who is totally unhinged but also always ready with a comeback to anything someone says to her. I think the movie might have affected my dreams last night, not because there was any incest involved, but I was at some family function with a girl everyone else wanted to get rid of. If I remember the dream correctly, I wasn’t dating her; she was someone I knew from social media who happened to live in the area. It really didn’t make a lot of sense, but it was a more coherent dream than most of the ones I’ve remembered recently.