Contributing Writer – Jordi Levinrad
This is a documentary at Fantastic Fest 2023 for anyone who loves Halloween, horror movies and scares.
I had no idea that ‘Spookyworld’ even existed. Still, Quinn Monahan has brought us a fascinating history lesson about America’s first Halloween theme park and offers a captivating glimpse into the mind of its founder, the legendary and doomy David Bertolino.
Lauded as the horrifically magical marriage of Disneyworld and Stephen King, Spookyworld thrilled over 1 million people of all ages at its original location in Berlin, Massachusetts from 1991 until it was sorrowfully shuttered in 2001 shortly after 9/11. What you realize through its presentation, is how impressive it was to attract that many people out to this small Massachusetts town in a time utterly devoid of smart phones or social media. Word-of-Mouth, radios spots and tv commercials are all they really had back then!
Monahan wonderfully captures the joy of Bertolino’s creation with an expert arrangement of archived footage and smooth post-editing. The documentary did not drag on for a moment, keeping me engrossed from start to finish.
Seeing familiar faces in the documentary, such as Bill Maher, Jay Leno, and Tom Savini, all in their heyday, was a treat.
Furthermore, every story told by those interviewed felt necessary for the viewer to understand what this place meant to those who worked there and its endless streams of guests backed up in a traffic jam for miles to attend.
From the Vampire actor being punched in the face by a frightened dad to the story of Tiny Tim and his wife reluctantly having a spooky wedding inside the park in front of hundreds of guests, all these pieces blended to form a telling picture.
I truly felt through Monahan’s depiction, immense sadness for Bertolino and his many staff members that worked at the original Spookyworld after the town residents of Berlin succeeded in getting the theme park closed through court application. I felt their heartbreak. To them it was their home and it was stripped from them. The end of an era. The fomo that I had at the beginning of the film because I didn’t get to attend, was replaced by said anguish at the end of the film.
Spooktacular! is an amusing documentary and one not to be missed. Thank you, Fons PR and Alamo Drafthouse, for having me!
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️