On her first
date with Buzz, Amy disobeys her father and goes to the carnival with Richie
and Liz, but their first date may end up as their last. After witnessing
a murder, the four terrified teens are trapped in the maze of the funhouse
and stalked by a real monster, a horribly deformed killer who lurks among
the freakish exhibits to butcher them one by one.
"Lets stay the night... in the Funhouse!"
What a pleasure
it was sitting back watching this again. Been a while and it's an 80's
slasher that's a bit different and still a great watch.
From the beginning
of the opening credits start and the movie's title flashes up on the screen,
John Beal's sinister soundtrack let's one know that there's going to be
menace in store. It takes a while to get going perhaps, but the wait is
well worth it. The set up is okay, too. Amy (Elisabeth Berridge) is getting
ready for her first date with Buzz (Cooper Huckabee). Their double date,
who set them up, Richie and Liz (Miles Chaplin & Largo Woodruff) is
joining them for a night at the traveling carnival, Early on in the film,
one character mentions the previous year the carnival had came, it had
coincided with a couple of murders in the town. Coincidence? Come to the
funhouse to find out.
After Buzz and
a rigid Amy get off on the wrong foot, eventually everyone relaxes and
is having a good time at the carnival. There's some pot smoking, seeing
a `boring' magic show with a kick ass little ending, obnoxiously heckling
a fortune teller and seeing an `Amazing Animals' show with all sorts of
deformities, including what looks like a baby mutation. Then Richie has
a great idea! Spend an overnight in the funhouse at the park for kicks.
The girls call home to make an excuse to their parents
There's a nice
scene in all of this with Amy listening intently to the announcer in front
of the funhouse saying, "You will scream with terror. You will beg for
release, but there will be no escape, for there is no release from the
funhouse." Right indeed.
Liz saying toRichie,
`this better be good', with he enthusiastically replying `It's gonna be
great!', the quartet take a ride in the funhouse, jumping off their cars
mid-ride. The park closes, and as the night's crowds are leaving, the growing
danger can be felt and safety diminished with the four still inside. From
there, it's a flat out horror movie. Period. It's scary and intense. After
witnessing a murder, and being found out by carnival owner Kevin Conway
and his `son', visuals and sounds play an abundant part to the unknown
terror that could be lurking around every corner, and director Tobe Hooper
knows it. This movie ain't titled The Funhouse for nothing. It's
all about the atmosphere.
The four teens
are good in their roles. Miles Chapin was 27 when he did this, but I actually
bought him as a college age kid. Huckabee does the requisite hunk hero
adequately enough here. The girls are worth watching, though. My guess
is Elizabeth Berridge's agent tried to set her up as the next scream queen
with this one. Interesting that she's really more trained into theater
and does a lot of stage work today. The real scream queen is Woodruff,
however. She's really good and totally believable, and perhaps the most
memorable scene of the movie involves her trapped in a vent with a scary
visitor. She is absolutely terrified, desperately trying to talk her way
out of her situation and I bought every minute of it.
and his son, played by mime Wayne Doba, are also good. Conway is simultaneously
disgusted at and affectionate towards his son, and Doba portrays a range
of emotions just from his body language alone, and there is sympathy for
him, although he is as frightening as hell.
some of the material seems a bit padded to fit a 90 minute feature and
could be taken out. Some of it is mean spirited, and the little brother
subplot is rather weak, although it does lead up to one nice scene involving
a character reaching for safety that is close, but yet so far away. Overall,
however, The Funhouse is quite a good watch.
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- The opening sequence is an homage to both Psycho and Halloween.
- Filmed in North Miami, Florida.
- Steven Spielberg asked Tobe Hooper to direct E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial but he turned it down because he was busy on this movie. However Hooper
and Spielberg would work together on Poltergeist.
- The Funhouse grossed $2,765,456 in the opening weekend
and grossed $7,886,857 in total.
- Dean Koontz wrote a novelization of the screenplay under the psuedonym
Owen West. The book contains a lot of backstory added by Koontz. Because
of this, it is often mistaken that the movie is based on the book, but
the book is in fact based on the movie.