Rollercoaster was a by-product of the brief "Sensurround" craze of the 1970s. Nutsoid Timothy Bottoms sabotages an amusement-park roller coaster, killing several innocent revelers. After several other acts of terrorism, Bottoms (whose character is credited as Young Man) presents his demands to the authorities via audio tape: one million dollars, or he'll stage five roller-coaster disasters simultaneously in five different parks. Because detective Harry Calder George Segal evinces a grudging respect for the elusive extortionist, Bottoms declares that only Detective Calder will be permitted to deliver the money. Thus the stage is set for an explosive climax, which during the film's original run was accompanied by the Sensurround effect, a gimmick that electronically caused the filmgoer's chairs to begin shaking and vibrating during the "thrill scenes." As with most disaster flicks of the era, Rollercoaster is top-heavy with "guest stars," including Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Harry Guardino, and Susan Strasberg. Watch for 13-year-old Helen Hunt as Detective Calder's spunky daughter.
by Hal Erickson synopsis