Movie: "The Funhouse"
Year: 1981
Rated: R
Genre: Horror
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Writing credits: Lawrence Block

Reviewer: -RoG-
Posted: 11/9/2008

Plot: Some teens decide to spend the night in a carnival funhouse, but what they experience isn't much fun at all. Sorry kids, no refunds.

Review: Here's an old Tobe Hooper flick that most people these days haven't bothered to check into. Sandwiched between his more popular horror flicks, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist, The Funhouse is an atmospheric horror film set inside a sleazy carnival.

Two teenage couples decide it'd be a great prank if they spend the night in the funhouse at the local carnival. Unfortunately, amidst all their shenanigans, the kids witness a murder and are soon being stalked by the guy who works in the funhouse along with his deformed son.

The story itself isn't incredibly creative or original, but the visuals in the film definitely are. First off, the grainy shots of all the old animatronic character models in the funhouse are just about as creepy as anything you'll see in a movie. Eerie laughs abound on the blank faces of these various creations as they stare out into nothingness. There's also the deformed son who wears a Frankenstein monster mask, only to later take it off to reveal an even more freakish face. Good stuff indeed and kudos to Rick Baker for the good special effects work.

The cast isn't too shabby either, but Kevin Conway is obviously the big star of the show here, taking on several carnival barker roles and the abusive father of the Monster. Trust me when I say that you'll never get tired of watching him shout at his son, "Hit yourself, you ugly thing!" Elizabeth Berridge (who most people probably remember from Amadeus) also proves to be a good choice for the leading lady of the film and she can definitely belt out some solid screams. Wayne Doba also does a fine job conveying madness from behind that old Frankenstein mask throughout the film.

My fondest memory of the film actually comes from wandering through the horror aisles of my favorite childhood VHS rental store and seeing this movie when it hit the shelves. The cover art featured an evil looking jack-in-the-box and one of my favorite movie taglines: "Pay to get in. Pray to get out." Classic!

It's not the most amazing horror film you'll ever see and the body count isn't particularly high, but it still has some fun characters and creepy visuals. Definitely worth renting if you want to see one of Tobe Hooper's earlier works that are still chock full o' atmosphere.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Nov 10th, 2008, 08:21 AM
Is it me or that guy in the last photo looks like a deformed Bib Fortuna?
Nov 10th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Hate to say it, but I still haven't seen this film.
is hopped up on goofballs
Nov 10th, 2008, 02:51 PM
It's not just 'not the most amazing horror film you'll ever see', it's just a really bad movie. The only time I've seen it is when AMC ran it latenight after a showing of Terror of Mechagodzilla, only one of which is American and neither of which is anything close to a classic. Hell, Funhouse barely qualifies as a movie.
Nov 10th, 2008, 03:14 PM
Well, I liked it.
Tropical Viking
Nov 10th, 2008, 04:37 PM
The coolest thing about the 80's was that cover artwork stile.
Ms. Sorghum Molasses '82
Nov 10th, 2008, 07:12 PM
I saw this film a few weeks ago on Showtime Beyond. Fun little film, in that cheesy 80's sort of way.

AWESOME soundtrack! Nailed the whole "sinister carnival" vibe PERFECTLY!
Last of the Time Lords
Nov 10th, 2008, 08:11 PM
I like this one. It's cheesy but fulfilling. Like pizza.
Sexy Ham Beast.
Nov 11th, 2008, 12:12 AM
Wasn't that the film where the teenage cast members were molested by the director?
Nov 11th, 2008, 09:28 AM
Were the weekly spotlights updated at all last week?
1.21 Gigawatts!!!
Nov 11th, 2008, 12:37 PM
The coolest thing about the 80's was that cover artwork stile.
It kind of makes you wonder how many movies people were tricked into watching based off of the box cover art.
Nov 15th, 2008, 05:34 PM
DUDE! I saw this movie a few times when iw as little and forgot all about it until like a week before halloween i noticed it was on cinemax. I remember bein confused by the intro and never knowing if i was watching halloween or the funhouse ( i was like 7, come on) but ill never forget wondering who thought itd be a good idea to put baseball patches in such random spaced out spots on a windbreaker.
4 Eyes, No Brain.
Oct 17th, 2010, 02:50 PM
Wasn't that the film where the teenage cast members were molested by the director?
Nope mate, that was Clownhouse directed by Victor 'Jeepers Creepers' Salva.
Oct 17th, 2010, 09:29 PM
I watched this one long ago and it was okay. Totally deserving of three pickles.