The Funhouse (1981)

Article 4436 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-31-2014
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin
Country: USA
What it is: Horror movie

Four teens decide to spend the night in the funhouse at a local carnival, but when they witness a murder, they find themselves the targets of the funhouse owner and his horribly deformed son.

Sometimes certain names in the credits raise our expectations. Given that the director of this was Tobe Hooper of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE fame, I was expecting (and hoping, I suppose) for something a bit more harrowing. My first disappointment came early on; though I usually like it when a horror movie references other horror classics, I am officially tired of tributes/homages/parodies of the shower scene in PSYCHO – it’s just too easy, and that’s how the movie opens. Most of the first half of the movie tries to mine the sleazy carny atmosphere, and though this is a little effective, it becomes rather clear after a bit that the movie is spinning its wheels. The scenes in the funhouse itself are hit and miss, with once again too much time spent on mining creepy atmosphere (this time from the puppets and mannequins in use in the funhouse), while some of the scenes of outright horror are swamped by pyrotechnics. Ultimately, I though the movie was an okay time killer, but I doubt that it will stick with me. And if it had been made by another director, I probably would have expected that from the outset.


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