The Funhouse (1981)
Directed By: Tobe Hooper
Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, David Carson, Kevin Conway, Wayne Doba
Synopsis: Four teenagers decide to snoop around a carnival ride and become trapped inside while being stalked by a deformed killer.
Thoughts: Tobe Hooper had a pretty great run in the 70s and early 80s with Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Eaten Alive, Salem’s Lot, The Funhouse and Poltergeist. Since then his career has been hit and miss, with more misses than hits. The Funhouse is a pretty simple story, but well executed, making it worthy viewing.
It seemed like in the 80s, one of the scariest things a filmmaker could imagine was a deformed adult on a murderous rampage (see Friday the 13th, The Burning, etc) and The Funhouse is no different. When the mask comes off Gunther, you had better not be eating anything. This poor guy took more than one shot with the ugly stick.
The tight quarters of the Funhouse really lend to the buildup of tension and often create a sense of claustrophobia. It is a great setting and one that should be used more often in scary movies (maybe it has been recently, but I can’t think of one off the top of my head).
The acting is decent, even if the characters are rather stereotypical. The real star of the show was Gunther, the deformed carny with a penchant for murder. Much like the Friday the 13th franchise, most of the characters are disposable anyways. Elizabeth Berridge does an admirable job in her role as the lead female protagonist, but just doesn’t stand up to some of the best from this era.
Overall, The Funhouse is good movie, but not a great one. I would call it above average for the era. The setting and the “monster” really carry the movie, enough that this is worth watching.