Original release: March 13th, 1981
Running time: 96 minutes
Director: Tobe Hooper
Cast: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carlson, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin
As a kid I was always too scared to go into the Funhouse. It just never seemed like the kind of place you’d come out of alive.
A macabre obstacle course where zombies, monsters and ghouls leaped out at you and an assortment of axes, spears and chainsaws dangled dangerously close to your head… No, it just never seemed like the kind of place to spend any amount of time in, far more the entire night, but I can see why many kids would.
This is where Tobe Hooper’s 1981 slasher movies takes its cues from. With its intro inspired by Psycho (1960) and Halloween (1978), it goes on to tell the story of a group of friends, Amy, Liz, Buzz and Richie, who foolishly decide to spend the night in the Funhouse.
Their night of course turns into a nightmare when they witness the murder of a fortune teller at the hands of a hideously deformed creature called Gunther. When it catches sight of them, one by one they fall victims of the sinister Funhouse, leaving the eponymous ‘final girl’ with nothing but her wits to battle it out with the monster and its father.
The Funhouse, once it gets past its unoriginal intro, is a colourful and amusing piece of vintage slasher entertainment. It leaves you with questions about Gunther’s origins, especially when we see some of the other half-bred mutant creatures on show at the fair, although some might say it’s a typical and gross misrepresentation of the life of the average carny.
With its tense atmosphere right from the start and cast of strange and uniquely bizarre characters, The Funhouse has the stamp of director Tobe Hooper all over it. There are moments where it’s also reminiscent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), particularly towards the film’s climax, but by and large it’s very enjoyable and probably more so than some of the real Funhouses I’ve been too!
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
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