Alright, folks: make sure your lap-bar is securely in place and please keep your hands inside the cart while the ride is in motion. This month marks 132 years since inventor LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented the first modernized roller coaster. On January 20th, 1885, shortly after debuting his “Switchback Railway” at Coney Island, Thompson laid claim to what we now know as the present-day “roller coaster”.
And you know who was a big fan of them rollie coasters? That’s right – Vincent Price! In addition to being a foodie, wine connoisseur, and one of the greatest horror actors of our time, Price – believe it or not – was a huge fan of roller coasters. So much so, in fact, that he hosted a documentary all about ’em!
Filmed in 1978 for TV and released on video in 1990, America Screams was the first documentary to showcase not only the history of coasters but of amusement parks in general. Over the course of its 30 minute runtime, the film takes us through the very first parks all the way up to modern times, all the while being hosted and narrated by the warm and jovial Vincent Price.
It’s impossible not to have a perma-smile while watching the always dapper Price (who was 67 years old when the documentary was filmed!) riding the rails, crashing bumper cars, and chowing on hot dogs – all while wearing a sophisticated blazer with pocket square. But don’t take my word for it: check out the entire special below, which someone has graciously preserved and uploaded to Youtube.