BY JULIA CIRIGNANO
Rocky Point Amusement Park existed from 1847 to 1995. In 1996, it was shut down due to financial difficulties, yet this is where the story begins. Since the park was abandoned, research, interviews, and exploration was done to try and prove that the park was cursed. Since 1996, filmmakers have captured footage under the title Tales of Rocky Point Park. The film will premiere in Massachusetts on Saturday, October 8, 2016, at The Narrows Center for the Arts in Fall River. (Purchase tickets HERE.)
Located on Narragansett Bay in Warwick R.I., Rocky Point Amusement Park was a beautiful playground for over 150 years. Filled with a rich history, the park remained famous and still does – only the attention the park has been receiving recently has nothing to do with its earlier popularity.
People have been creating good memories at Rocky Point since 1847, but there is a legend that an ancient curse was bestowed on the park. Tales of Rocky Point Park explores the truth behind the legend. Filmmaker Jason Mayoh and producers Jacob Tasho and Robert Yeremian show never before seen footage, interviews and exploration within this film that explore the possibility that the park was cursed.
In 2008, Mayoh published a comic titled Tales of Rocky Point Park, which he has now turned into a film using the footage he gathered earlier on.
Within the film, Mayoh goes through the history of the park, recounting many documented events such as fires, hurricanes, a fatal accident, a murder, and a family of escaped monkeys. Andrew Lake, a ghost hunter himself, narrates these documented events and also the distinguished urban legends, such as questions about the Viking statue at the House of Horrors, Log 13 on the Flume, and a woman who supposedly got scalped on the Free Fall.
Like many others, Mayoh has great memories of Rocky Point when he was growing up.
“I went when I was a little kid. You know, my parents took me there in the early 80’s and on,” he said. “I went there in the mid-nineties as a teenager with my friend. It was definitely a summertime tradition and now I’ve got really great memories of it.”
Although Mayoh has these memories, he said he didn’t think of the comic until about ten years later.
“Originally, we were going to do all short stories with different artists, but I researched online pictures of the park,“ he said. “At the time, there were a lot of abandoned photography sites that were big and so there were multiple sites that had Rocky Point in ruins. Like I said, I hadn’t thought of it in years and I was actually shocked to see what it had turned into.”
Creating the comic and now film about Rocky Point was a perfect fit for Mayoh. He has always been interested in storytelling and also the genre of ghost films, horror movies, etc. Because of this, the story of Rocky Point instantly caught his attention.
Since childhood, Mayoh has loved, “Horror, monster movies, ghost stories. I think folklore in general. Rocky Point actually seemed like history or at least some of the more bizarre stuff that’s happened over the years.”
Mayoh spoke about his recent experiences at the park.
“We do have footage. We were in the park alone when it was abandoned and you definitely get an eerie vibe. There’s definitely something going on there, but I can’t quite put my finger on it,” he said.
Mayoh’s interest with the Rocky Point story started when he discovered that the abandon park was going to be turned into condos. He started writing the comic book in order to preserve the park in his own way.
“As the years went on, collecting all this footage, we kind of said to ourselves ‘why don’t we try to bring it back in film form because there’s so much footage that people haven’t seen,” he said. “We kind of used the cursed story as a motif to tell the history — the importance to New England that the park had.”
Mayoh explained the actual curse that is believed to have been bestowed on the land.
“There’s three different variations on that curse and legend and that is believed to result in the hurricanes, the fires and some of the riot acts,” he said. “One was that a group of gypsies and fortune tellers were basically fired from the park after they had worked there for years and years and, on their way out, they cursed the land. There’s also speculation that certain parts of the park were built over Native American burial grounds. Then, the third one is about one of the first attractions to the park, this cave, and actual legend is that certain things were removed from the cave, that certain stones were removed that caused a curse.”
Mayoh explained that the biggest challenge while creating the film was creating one cohesive story without telling it in a chronological way. He said that the hardest part was, “just how to put it all together in a ninety minute format because there’s so much information. And again, the park has been open for 150 years, so kind of telling that story and not doing it chronologically.”
Mayoh also alluded to the premiere in August at Park Theatre in Cranston R.I.
“It was sold out,” he said. “It sold a thousand seats and that’s just amazing for any filmmaker to have sellout…I’m really humbled by the whole experience.”
Although the film has gained the attention of many, some people don’t like what Mayoh is doing. He explained that there were a few people who didn’t like the film or didn’t go and see the film because they don’t like Rocky Point being remembered in this dark way, since it was a place where so many great memories were created. Mayoh said that was not his intention, but instead to preserve the park and all of its rich history.
If you’re still on the edge about coming to see the film at the Narrows Center on Oct. 8th,, here are some last words from Mayoh.
“Come out and see it,” he said. “If you experienced Rocky Point in any way, I think you’ll enjoy it. If, for some reason, you’re totally against the curse or the dark history, then bring some headphones and just watch the imagines.”
With this film, Mayoh hopes to perverse Rocky Point Park. He uses the theme of the curse to tell the story, but doesn’t use the film to argue this point. He instead wants the park to be celebrated by those who truly understand the magic that the park encompasses.
It Had To Be Done, a contemporary re-imagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, will screen before Tales of Rocky Point Park. This short film was directed by former Somerset, Mass., and current New Bedford, Mass., resident Don Burton and written by Tommy Whalen, an educator at Joseph Case High School in Swansea, Mass. The movie was filmed in Providence, R.I., with post-production and finishing in New Bedford. It was produced in conjunction with “The Big Read” in New Bedford. “The Big Read” is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest. It Had To Be Done won First Prize at the Rhode Island International Film Festival’s Providence Underground Film Fest in 2014.
The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anwan Street in Fall River, Mass. Doors open at 7 p.m. for the Oct. 8th screening. Film starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online at http://www.narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.