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Anthony B. from WEST ALLIS, WI Reviewed on 4/21/2014...
Kinda dull to start, but builds to a fun time. Interesting premise, wicked kill scenes, and suspense! Based on the book by Owen West (AKA: wait for it...Dean Koontz!)
Chad B. (abrnt1) from CABERY, IL Reviewed on 5/20/2011...
Tobe Hooper attempted to make a film that captured the feel of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre without the problems he encountered while making Eaten Alive and was somewhat successful. The largest problem with The Funhouse is that it's not willing to go as far as his other films. It's a somewhat cliched movie dealing with a group of friends who sneak into a carnival after hours and encounter an insane killer (who's a mishapen freak). It's an entertaining enough diversion, but don't expect anything new.
"The Funhouse" (AKA Carnival of Terror)
Blade | WA, USA | 06/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the success of the shocking slasher, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and the eerily vampire tale of "Salems Lot", horror master Tobe Hooper came out with one of his most highly anticipated films yet! While being not as popular as some horror movies, this very rare gem was sadly neglected and barely even heard of throughout the years. Heck it may be low-budget, but I think that during its release it proved to be a very original and nightmarish work of art, showing us the more darker side of how a carnival REALLY can be! Originally released as a motion picture in the theaters back in 1981, "The Funhouse" was quite the treat for the fan of homemade horror movies. (Those are always the best!) The storyline concerns two young couples who decide to spend the night in the carnival funhouse... BIG MISTAKE! They witness a murder from inside and soon are stalked by a bloodthirsty monster that lurks from inside. One-by-one they fall prey to the numerous booby traps and terrifying surprises until only one remains in a desperate fight for survival against the horror from within! The actual funhouse itself is a really eerie set, and features some of the most scariest animatronics you'll ever see! (the fat lady one still haunts me today due to that I can't get that bizarre laugh out of my head!) I'd have to say that this may not be all big and bad as Tobe Hooper's other masterpiece, "Poltergeist" (which came out one year later) but it still packs quite punch that no other horror movie can do anymore. I first saw this on the A&E network a long time ago when I was in the third grade and it scared the hell out of me! It aired again on the Sci-Fi channel and that's when I really started to get into it! Over and over I'd watch and never EVER get tired of it! The actors and actresses did a very good job for their roles and are very convincing that you actually start having sympathy for them. (I felt so sorry for that poor blonde haired girl who becomes the monster's second victim) The soundtrack is also one of the best I've ever heard from a horror movie with it's scary carnival-like organ music. The effects for the monster were most excellent and truly brought the creature to life with all the fake drool and snot detail. Although there isn't much blood and gore to be found here, "The Funhouse" mostly focuses on the heart-stopping suspense and atmosphere. You want a horror film that's both original and scary? "The Funhouse" is a non-stop thrill ride that will have you on the edge of your seat and is all-in-all a FUN (literally) movie! No horror collection is complete without this! I also recommend, "The Tourist Trap" and "Black Christmas". Both of those movies carry the same similarities to suspense just like this one and are some of the best in classic horror history! They just don't make 'em like they used to! ^_^"
Pay to get in. PRAY to get out.
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/07/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Thet boy just ain't right" If you've seen this movie, then you'll know what I mean. Lately, I've been collecting late 70's, early 80's horror movies and I came across The Funhouse (1981). Directed by Tobe Hooper, best know for 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I thought this movie would be fun and it was.The movie is slow going for the first hour, and then things pick up from there. This provides a slow build up of the tension, which I enjoyed. Basically you have a small group of teenagers who decide to spend the night in a carnival funhouse, and most don't live to regret it. There are some thrilling/scary moments, but the movie is more low key than The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The gore is very limited, and a lot of it is off screen, but as a choice of direction, I thought it was better that way, for this movie. The settings are very effective, using natural lighting in most scenes, giving the movie a gritty feel. The actors, I feel, did an effective job in portraying their characters, giving them a little more depth than what we used to in these types of movies. The one minor issue I had was I thought the monster make up might have been a little over the top, in that I thought it would have been more effective had it been toned down a notch. The monster, by the way, is the son of a carnival worker, and is very disfigured to the point of being grotesque. I am not giving away anything here, as we learn this about midpoint in the movie, and it's not a shocking revelations or anything.While this movie shared many elements of other horror movies, teenagers, creepy location, psycho killer, it rises above it's peers somewhat in the gritty realism. Again, I want to stress that this movie is slow going through the first hour, but was worth it to me for the last half hour."
Underrated Early 1980's Slasher
Tim Janson | Michigan | 08/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"First, this was directed by Tobe Hooper who has had an interesting if uneven career. He's made some great films like Poltergeist, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Life Force and then some real duds like The Mangler and Spontaneous Combustion. Funhouse falls somewhere in between with enough good stuff to make it worth a view.
The plot is standard fare...A pair of teen couples Amy & Buxx and Richie and Liz go to the local carnival. They enjoy all the usual carny attractions and then get the bright idea of spending the night in the Funhouse. Amy is the young, pure as the driven snow heroine and at first hesitant but then agrees. The couple hop on the ride and begin going though the funhouse. They hop off the cars while inside and wait for the park to close for the night. Now this is actually pretty cool. Who, as a teen, didn't think it might be cool to do the same thing?
Well while exploring the funhouse the four teens witness a grisly murder by a freak in a Frankenstein mask and then find themselves pursued by the maniac and his father who is the Funhouse's barker, luring people inside. They soon find they are trapped inside with the freak and his father and being hunted down.
Funhouse is a pretty decent horror. It stars quite slowly but then builds suspense once the kids enter the funhouse and witness the murder. Hooper offers up little salutes to other horror films throughout the funhouse setting. The acting is what you'd expect from a no-name cast. Many of these actors never did another film after this one. Still, Hooper shows how a cheapie slasher can rise above the pack when you have a decent director."
DATED HORROR FILM GETS RESPECTABLE DVD TRANSFER
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 09/04/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Funhouse" is one of those wacky tacky slasher flicks from the early 80s that used to seem like the height of terror, but since then has transmuted to merely a dated footnote in the annals of horror films and cinema in general. It stars Elizabeth Berridge (of Amadeus fame) as Amy Harper. Amy and her troupe of teen toughies, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Ritchie (Mile Chaplin) are your typical pack of oversexed morally bankrupted adolescences. Living in a small dead end town they get their kicks by getting high and into trouble.
So when the circus/sideshow comes to town it seems like the perfect place to indulge in the perversions of youthful folly. Unfortunately for Amy and Co. this traveling show is home to a hideous and horny little monster (Wayne Doba) - - sort of a cross between a midget, an ape and the killer's mask from "Terror Train." Amy and friends think it's cool to crash the circus after all the performers have gone to bed. But when they accidentally stumble across Madame Zena (Sylvia Miles) getting raped and murdered by the monster they retreat with fear into the funhouse where, naturally, the monster sets to work picking them off like flies, one by one. Clearly inspired by visions of Tod Browning's illustrious scare fest, "Freaks", director Tobe Hooper tries to recapture some of the taut tension of Browning's classic, but ultimately succumbs to the urge of creating a gore fest. This he effectively does but the result is less of a classic and more of a passing fancy on celluloid. The final experience: pay to get in, pray for it to be over.
Universal's anamorphically enhanced 2:35:1 DVD looks rather good considering the age and prestige of the production. Colors are fully saturated - - if dated - - with mostly accurate flesh tones, deep - - mostly solid - - blacks, and considerable fine details emerging from the contrast and shadow levels. Film grain is kept to a minimum and age related artifacts on the whole are absent. The audio is 2.0 mono and nicely cleaned up. It suffers from a dated characteristic with frontal sounding dialogue and directionalized effects but this is as the producers intended it to be. The only extra is the film's theatrical trailer.
""The Funhouse" is another of my favorite slasher movies from the 80's. I love the carnival setting in this movie, As a kid I always loved freak shows ,I loved the way they incorporated the freak show into the story and when the barker aka "the creatures father" says to the creature "You could have ended up like your little brother in there" referring to a horribly deformed stillborn baby in a big jar of formaldehyde that the teenagers see while going through the freak show tent. The creature in this movie is very effective. As a woman it was even more disturbing because of the scenes where the creature is intimate with the fortune teller and then when he is kissing and drooling all over the girl that's trapped in an air vent or whatever it is. You know he has the same sexual needs and desires as a normal man and I actually felt sorry for him because he was a product of his upbringing and his deformity. Hooper somehow seems to humanize him no matter how hideous he is. It has some good kills and a good feel to it "creepy"...It's another must for the collector.