VIDEO: The Funhouse (1981)

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In this episode, Fear Fan watches Tobe Hooper’s entry in the carnival-based horror film genre, 1981’s The Funhouse! In this by-the-numbers thriller, two teenage couples go to a traveling fun fair, and decide to spend the night in the funhouse ride, only to be trapped inside and terrorized by creepy carnies and a deformed ride operator. This movie has everything you’d expect from slasher films of the ‘80s: clueless teens, a psycho killer, and of course, massive amounts of padding!

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  • Mystic_Squirrel

    I really don’t understand the point of the little brother. Initially after his incredibly creepy shower scene, I assumed he would be the villain, but instead it just seems like he was totally worthless and they need a lock on the bathroom door.

    • fearfanforever

      That’s pretty much what I got out of it. I totally thought he was going to wind up watching her get killed, or do it himself, but instead he simply seemed to be there to prove his own worthlessness.

  • James Fox

    How about tackling the camp horror film “Popcorn”?

    • fearfanforever

      I’ve never seen it, but after watching the trailer, it’s definitely going on my list.

  • Anthea Alberto

    Very enjoyable, as always.
    I have ti say that I’m not that much into horror movier per se (I prefer…what would you call movies like the Alien series or 28 days later? Horrorthrillers?), but I love watching you review them.
    Keep up the good work!

    • fearfanforever

      I just call them horror, or in some cases sci-fi horror, but I’m glad you like the series.
      In fact, making these movies more accessible to people who don’t like horror films was one of the reasons I started doing this. It’s always nice to see when you’re succeeding.

  • Bart_Fargo

    Dean R. Koontz wrote the novelization for this movie (under an editorially-imposed pseudonym), and the book has plenty of backstory, enough to make you even madder about the padding.

    In the book, the ugly guy is given the name Gunther Stryker. His dad is a full-on devil worshipper who thinks Gunther is the Antichrist. After the birth of Gunther’s little brother (that’s him in the bottle), Gunther’s mom rethinks the whole raising-the-Antichrist thing and leaves. She finds a new guy, and has two more children: Amy and Joey.

    • Cristiona

      Koontz wrote the novelization? Damn, I always thought it was the other way around and that they’d butchered his book. The book was pretty good, as I recall.

      • Earthbound_X

        Yeah, I thought the book was made into this movie, didn’t know it was based on the movie itself. It was a good book, read it years ago in Junior High.

    • fearfanforever

      Hunh. I’d seen that book before, but I never read it. I probably should though, given that I like his earlier stuff. Most of his stuff past The Face wasn’t my cup of tea.

  • Olaf_the_Lofty

    This is for me by far the best of your work so far. I’m looking for something to make me laugh, not film recommendations, and there were several good laughs here. I don’t know if there is a name for it, but Joey is a type of character I’ve encountered before: the type who’s supposed to be on the “good” side, but is so awful you end up wishing he’d get bumped off. That he didn’t is a great disappointment. A couple of other points:
    I lived through the early Eighties. There were some awful clothes around, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite as horrid in combination as Liz’s purple shirt and scarlet flares.
    When the barker is advertising the stripper tent, I think he referred to the stripper as his “assistant” and not “sister”. The soundtrack is very unclear, so it was fairly ambiguous.

    • fearfanforever

      There’s actually two scenes with the barker, and since after hearing the pitch twice I still thought sister, that’s what I think I’m going to go with. As for Joey, I’m sure that there’s a term for it, but as to what it is, I’m not sure. If anybody knows, feel free to enlighten us!

      • Mystic_Squirrel

        The only actual person to wear a clown mask and stab someone in the supposedly clown themed serial killer movie, while still failing in every respect?

        • lucidz

          You guys ever seen S I C K, Serial Insane Clown Killer? Holy shit balls, that movie takes the bar for horrible movies, rips it from its stand and beats other horrible movies to death with it.

  • Gideonit

    Another fun video. Look forward to the next one, and hope you tackle some of Carpenters work soon!

    Anyone else think a series where Joey randomly wanders around in other horror franchises could be interesting?
    Joey wanders past Crystal Lake
    Joey wanders around Elm Street
    Joey goes to the Halloween house
    Could be a new cameo thing

    • I think Lucas needs to get the rights to all Hitchcock movies and then digitally insert Joey into the Cameo Scenes.

      • fearfanforever

        Yeah, but then there will be the inevitable scene where Janet Leigh stabs Anthony Perkins first. Plus, I don’t think the pointless CGI updates to The Birds will sit well with fans.

  • Rocha674

    Good video. I’m not going to watch this film, because I can’t be bothered to sit through Joey and his shenanigans – maybe I’m wrong, but the 80’s are stock full of annoying/creepy children that I hate (except The Goonies and few others). I can safely assume your video was far more entertaining.

    And so once again I must begin checking this site every other day until your new “elm street” video pops up.

    • fearfanforever

      Sorry it’s taking a while, don’t worry though, it’ll be up soon enough!

  • NotaPoliticalComic

    I’ve always felt that The Funhouse was a movie that could benefit from a remake. I think the ideas are there but the execution fell apart. I think Hooper was trying to play up on how the world is a scary place for kids which is the point of the pointless adventures of Joey, but he doesn’t focus on it so it becomes needless padding. Also, the idea of a place of “fun” being so dark, menacing, dirty and horrifying. The villains are creepy and sympathetic at the same time. But man, it takes way too long to get going and yes, I didn’t care for the teenage characters. Tons of potential, just missed it. (It was also the first horror movie I ever saw as a little kid, and it terrified me, so maybe Hooper hit it on the head for little kids).

  • Edwinleepope

    good review yet I can not help but nwonder did this come out in theater of was it just cme out on VHS? in any case good review

  • lucidz

    Its a shame Albert won’t accept submissions any more. There is a link to why he doesn’t, but there’s no information on the page. Any reason why not? Are there other forums that would be open to it?

    • Michael A. Novelli

      We’re closed to written recaps, but if you’d like to audition a show, I’d be happy to screen you…

      • lucidz

        I’m not sure how well I’d do as a show… I have a full set of production camera equipment, lighting and microphones (I work in television) but i’ve never thought of myself as having any business in front of a camera… Also, I write, and can turn around written stuff pretty quick. I may consider a show. Want to continue the conversation in email?

        • Michael A. Novelli

          Certainly. My email is on the Staff page at the bottom left of this screen…

  • Ed

    I agree completely with your assessment of the movie. Really, the only thing I love about this movie is the creature design. Good stuff, man.

  • Mike

    Walk the heck was in that creepy washroom; a furnace on one end and a stairway on the other? Fun review btw!

    • mssinykin

      Did I really just write “walk the heck?” Is there an emoticon for major embarressment or did I just spell something else wrong?!