21st Jul2011

‘The Funhouse’ Blu-ray Review (Arrow Video)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin,Cooper Huckabee, David Carson | Written by Lawrence Block | Directed by Tobe Hooper

As a horror fan I always like going back to the older movies that I missed in that past. The Funhouse is one of these so now it’s been released on Blu-ray it’s the perfect opportunity for me to watch and review it.

I found The Funhouse to be quite a confusing movie in parts, to the point it seems to be confused as to what it’s trying to achieve. It starts like a Halloween clone but this proves to be a misdirection to confuse the watcher making the opening scenes more a homage to the famous Halloween opener. These scenes are important for later though as it builds up a rivalry between one of the teens that get stuck in the funhouse and her younger brother. Moving from this we then move to the travelling carnival where the funhouse itself is.

At this point it becomes a process of showing the fun side of the fair with its freak shows rides, with weird homeless people wandering around shouting threats at people. At that point I wondered if this was going to be a story about how these vagrants were attacking people in the funhouse; But alas no when the movie finally gets to the funhouse probably around halfway through the movie it finally gets to the horror section of proceedings. As the movie is titled The Funhouse it was quite strange that it takes that long to actually get in there. It’s at this point the teenagers decide they will stay the night inside the Funhouse as a prank, little do they know that they will witness a murder which in turn will put their lives at risk by a strange creature in a Frankenstein mask.

For all its misdirection The Funhouse is a good movie. At a time when Friday 13th and its sequels were exploding on the world and a sudden barrage of clones were being thrown out The Funhouse is a nice change from just being the average slasher. This is a movie about the dark side of the Carnival world, and the belief that the carnival people were like a family. When murders take place as the watcher you are given the view of how they are willing to hide the murder and just move onto another town, as long as the killing is not “one of their own”. Being a fan of movies like The Freaks and the TV show Carnivàle I liked the subtle feel of the same themes you see in these types of stories. Although there are no real connections between them it was still interesting to see how the Carnival people have that bond between each other as they travel from town to town, no matter how corrupt the relationships may be.

The Funhouse may have its flaws with its constant misdirection and often feeling of being confused by itself with just what it’s trying to achieve but it is still a good movie. Fans of 80’s horror and the slasher genre should watch this just as change from the same old Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday 13th clones. It came at a time where this type of movie were becoming popular and everybody seemed to want to jump on the slasher bandwagon, but Tobe Hooper was not afraid to go in his own direction with this and create a unique slasher in what is usually a generic style of movie.

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