The Funhouse (1981)
October 24, 2022 7:10 AM - Subscribe

Rebellious teen Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) defies her parents by going to a trashy carnival that has pulled into town. In tow are her boyfriend, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), and their friends Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Richie (Miles Chapin). Thinking it would be fun to spend the night in the campy "Funhouse" horror ride, the teens witness a murder by a deformed worker wearing a mask. Locked in, Amy and her friends must evade the murderous carnival workers and escape before it leaves town the next day.

Directed by Tobe Hooper. Written by Lawrence Block.

70% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Criterion and Peacock. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The opening 10 minutes of this movie is an extended rip-off/homage/piss-take of the opening scene from the original Halloween and I'd love to know the story behind it. The way I see it, either Hooper and Carpenter were buds and it was a loving tribute, or else Hooper was pissed off that Halloween had garnered so much success and acclaim drafting off of his own earlier cult classic (but much less financially successful) Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Honestly, either scenario is entirely plausible.

The film itself is pretty much a dud. Some nice greasy carny atmosphere, a smattering of creepy animatronics, and some effectively grotesque creature design but a plot that drags interminably and limps along to a mostly tepid finish.

One thing I noticed during a recent viewing was Hooper's liberal use of lens flare. (This would be amped up even more a couple years later in Poltergeist.) It's funny that people always point to J.J. Abrams's excessive use of that effect as a tribute to Spielberg, but it now seems entirely possible that it should be attributed to Hooper instead.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:59 AM on October 24, 2022 [1 favorite]

I just heard this hyped on the Screen Drafts podcast episode ranking Tobe Hooper films (along with Eaten Alive) and it sounded great. I'm definitely on board with Tobe when he gets weird.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:05 AM on October 24, 2022

I love the Marko the Magnificent scene in this. "Hooper just likes William Finley, and lets us watch him." <3
posted by cocotine at 11:25 AM on October 25, 2022

The script is pretty ordinary and the score is corny and bad. But the use of color is great, the carnival atmosphere is great, and the scares are solid.

The one thing that was truly noteworthy for me was how recognizable the style was as the guy who would make Poltergeistin a few years later.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:33 PM on November 3, 2022

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