The Funhouse (1981)
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Critic Reviews for The Funhouse
Easily one of Tobe Hooper's better films as it entertains and frightens without ever feeling the need to sink into debauchery or tawdry terror.
No horror classic is this, but it has the right texture to stand above the chaff of a genre that's frequently just plain awful.
With its two-headed cow, mutant baby in a jar, jokes about bestiality, references to 'Bride of Frankenstein' and misbegotten monster, this is very much a horror movie that contemplates, with awe and terror, the sometimes terrible consequences of sex.
An underrated gem, a mini-masterpiece of frights and atmosphere.
Audience Reviews for The Funhouse
To label the first half of the listless dud The Funhouse phlegmatic is an insult to mucus. It crawls on its hands and knees to a creature feature. It's what Roger Ebert coined a Dead Teenager Movie with a slice-of-life focus on the park's attractions. The most eerie sights are a two-headed cow and another with a cleft palette. Finally, after an interminable uphill battle of pot smoking, peep-show voyeurism and exhibitionist sex, it shifts gears to a slasher film with a "freak". Unfortunately, the critter is a lanky albino bat without a backbone. There is nothing more flagrantly idiotic for a movie villain than humanization and then abject humiliation when the deformed Gunther Straker (Wayne Doba) basically cowers and mewls for the majority. When Gunther is henpecked and harangued by his father for his violent temptations, Tobe Hooper duplicates the askew nuclear-family dynamics of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. For such a declawed R-rating and harmless tonality, the hatchet-in-the-head overkill of one character and flaunting nudity of Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) are jarring to the audience's sensibilities. The rationale behind Kevin Conway as the three carnival barkers is not nonsensical, it's completely nonexistent. Amy's brother's infiltration of the roving fair is a shaggy dog story that proceeds to no outlet. It hints at child-in-peril exploitation and quickly abandons those dubious plans. The Psycho shower scene with the Dario Argento killer-with-black-gloves trope is futile because it is a thrifty excuse for breasts and a jump scare. It might be faintly better than Eaten Alive but a calamity like The Funhouse still postulates the question what happened to the guerilla mastermind behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre?
I'm just going to be honest here up front and say that I've never really been a fan of Tobe Hooper. Outside of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, his work has been spotty and lackluster. Such is the case with The Funhouse. I do praise the score for the movie, even though it's overused, and the design of the monster's mask, but other than that, there's nothing really spectacular about this one. Paying homages to Psycho and Halloween in the opening minutes didn't really help it much either. Sub-standard horror film fodder with plot threads and ideas that go nowhere fast, I don't really understand how this broken plot got put into production. I suppose the dolls and the animatronic characters in the movie would frighten some people, or even creep them out, but that stuff doesn't really work on me. This had potential, but it's such a slow build-up to essentially nothing.
An unknown and under appreciated movie. Tobe Hooper knows how to make great horror movies, and although this isn't as amazing as Poltergeist or Texas Chainsaw, it is still good. The opening scene is a great tribute/reenactment of the famous shower scene from Psycho.
The Funhouse Quotes
|Harper:||I don't know where you're going tonight, but don't go to that damn carnival. It went through Fairfield last year, when they found the bodies of those two girls in the creek.|
|The Barker:||They wiggle and they dance; Six beautiful girls. They wiggle and they dance... (Looks straight at Amy very eerily) They wiggle and they dance.|
|The Barker:||They wiggle and they dance. Six beautiful girls. They wiggle and they dance. (Looks straight at Amy very eerily) They wiggle and they dance.|
|Madame Zena:||Don't come back - Or I'll break every bone in your F**KIN' BODIES! Beat it!|
|Madame Zena:||Don't come back. Or I'll break every bone in your F**KIN' BODIES! Beat it!|
|Marco The Magnificent:||A little history. In the fifth century, Vlad V of Wallachia, known as Vlad the lmpaler to his friends, tortured 23,000 prisoners in a device not unlike this. Tiring of his name, he decided to change it. He selected his father's name, Dracul, meaning devil. He added the letter A and became...Dracula; literally, "son of the devil". And so legends are born.|
|Marco The Magnificent:||A little history. In the fifth century, Vlad V of Wallachia, known as Vlad the lmpaler to his friends, tortured 23,000 prisoners in a device not unlike this. Tiring of his name, he decided to change it. He selected his father's name, Dracul, meaning devil. He added the letter A and became. Dracula; literally, 'son of the devil'. And so legends are born.|