Directed by: Chris Perkel, Georgie Roland
Starring: John Lokitis, John Coddington, David DeKok
I watched this documentary in the hopes that it would be about a really awesome actual thing that is real: The town of Centralia, Pennsylvania’s 50-year long coal fire constantly burning underneath it. Instead, it turned into this weird thing about how the government was bad and so on and so forth. Too bad.
The Town That Was details the fire that continues to burn under Centralia, due to a fireworks mishap back in the 60’s which was mishandled by the local authorities until it got too big and out of control for anyone to do anything about. They moved everyone out of the small coal mining town except for a dozen old/crazy people who refused to leave their homes, which are now literally above a PIT OF HELL. You can see smoldering and smoke rising in the background as one particularly crazy guy goes around town putting up Christmas decorations and explaining to the camera about how great a place his town is. His town WHICH HAS BEEN ON FIRE FOR FIFTY YEARS.
The position of the documentary is that it’s terrible that the government made all these people move from out of their carbon monoxide-filled town, paying for their houses and most of them ending up in much better places. They actually say that in the movie. I’m not being pro-government or anything here, I’m just anti-dying-in-your-sleep-for-no-reason-because-you-can’t-leave-your-fucking-house. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the lunatics who stayed behind in hell town. A house full of deadly gas above a roaring fire? Sounds like a cool place to visit if you’re interested in possibly seeing Satan taking a nature hike, but that’s about it.