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! ^_^
After a title sequence that sets both the setting and the tone, "The Funhouse" begins with a nice nudge-nudge, wink-wink that combines the opening of "Halloween" with the shower scene from "Psycho." Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) has a pesky younger brother, Joey (Shawn Carson), who violates their sibling propriety so badly that she pins him up against the wall and says not only will she not take him to the carnival that is in town, she will, one day, at a place and time of her choosing, get him in a way that will pretty much scar him for life.
Our story really begins when Amy's dad forbids her to go to the carnival, because a couple of girls were found dead after it left a nearby town. Of course Amy not only goes to the carnival with her date, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) and her friends Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Richie (Miles Chapin), but after enjoying the freak shows and other tacky sideshow attractions, she ends up going along with Richie's brilliant idea to spend the night in the Funhouse. However, before the two couples can get really comfortable they witness a gruesome and unexpected murder on the level below them, and when they make the mistake of letting the killer know that they are there, the fun really begins.
This horror film really benefits from the setting, both in terms of the seedy carnival and the mechanical innards of the funhouse itself. There is a slight let down because the funhouse ride, which the quartet take so that they can jump off to hide for the night, is nothing special. On the one hand, that is not surprising, because this is a seedy little carnival. But the title credits heighten our expectations and it is actually not until the power is off in the funhouse and the figures are all still that they start to creep you out. You know most of our little group is going to end up dead and Amy meets the only requirement a young woman needed to survive a splatter flick way back then, but Buzz actually does a decent job of keeping his head and trying to fight back, which is a rather welcome surprise, even though it is obviously a doomed effort.
The script by Lawrence Block was based on a novel by Dean Koontz, but once it became clean the finished film was going off in a different direction, Koontz got his name pulled from the credits. Despite that badge of dishonor, "The Funhouse" is an above average splatter flick and one of the few that came out in the wake of "Halloween" that was not a wretched disappointment. Final Thought: I wonder if years later, when Cooper Huckabee and Kevin Conway (who plays the carny barker) both appeared in the film "Gettysburg" if they got together and commented on the fact that they got out of "The Funhouse" with their careers alive. Then again, Conway does give the best performance in the flick and has all of the good lines.