Rollercoaster was shot in the Sensurround process created by Universal and used in one previous disaster movie, Earthquake (1974). Sensurround involved placing a series of bass speakers placed around the auditorium, which amplified low frequencies and made the theatres literally seem to shake. Directorially, Rollercoaster is not terribly exciting. Certainly, seen on the small-screen today and devoid of the up-front Sensurround system, the rollercoaster point-of-view shots lose whatever impact they might have had in a cinematic setting. The attempts at everyday characterisation for hero George Segal are pretty awful (although one can spot a fourteen year-old Helen Hunt in her first big screen appearance as his daughter), while the surroundings are very datedly 1970s people laze about in bell-bottoms and drop the expression cool a lot.
However, once it gets to the central suspense, the film becomes a clever battle of wits. The idea of a calmly calculating madman, not at all concerned whether his extortees involve the police or not, in fact using them to his advantage, is a good one. It is the twists and turnings the plot takes, as opposed to James Goldstones crude and suspenseless direction, that keep one on a seat-edge throughout.
Director James Goldstone had worked in television since the early commercial days in the 1950s and directed episodes of many classic series, including the second pilot for Star Trek (1966-9). He made a number of other films, mostly Westerns and the Irwin Allen disaster movie The Day the World Ended/When Time Ran Out (1980). His only other genre work was the Disney space opera mini-series Earth Star Voyager (1988).
Full film available online here:-