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Dare you enter the carnival of fun?,
This review is from: The Funhouse [DVD] (DVD)
Whilst every low budget director and high end studio were falling over themselves to direct another slasher horror- Tobe Hooper directed this one. The year was 1981 and following the success of Friday the 13th, 81 and for the next 8 years turned out to be a revolving door for slasher films. Some were decent, but most missed the mark. So to have a horror film like The Funhouse was indeed a fresh change.
Sure the basic concept is the same as ever: dumb kids getting hacked to pieces, but The Funhouse is so much different. For starters the killings take place in a carnival. And there are only four teenagers at stake- they decide to hop off the ghost train and stay the night there. Great idea, no not really. I won't give more away, but lets just say they will get more than they bargained for.
The atmosphere of the film is spot on. For the first half there is actually very little horror. Just a taste of teenagers sneeking off to a carnival. We are introduced to many different wild acts and characters- and as a consequence each of our four main characters have a story arc. So much so, that we end up caring for them. Which is what you ultimately want in a horror film.
A special mention should go to Cooper Huckabee, an actor who has struggled throughout his career, though Quentin Tarantino gave him a lifeline in Django Unchained. He is terrific here as the cool boyfriend. Acts it very well. Elizabeth Berridge does a great girl next door job, though one can't help thinking that she looks too young when she is naked in the shower. By the way she wasn't, but was barely 19.
Homages are aplenty, and this film remains an important one in the genre. It starts off a little 80s goofy, but goes all serious on us and is progresses. It's a shame that Tobe Hooper continues to get bad press, his CV of films isn't that bad, and whilst The Funhouse may not be his greatest effort, it is certainly deserving of being rediscovered and enjoyed time and again.