THE FUNHOUSE (BLU-RAY)
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
Some silly teenagers on a double date decide to check out a carnival that seems to just be passing through town. Of course, the foolish kids decide they want to hide out past closing time so they can do things that get teenagers killed in similar films (use your noggins, horrorhounds). Naturally, they stumble upon an activity that ends up in murder and become marked for death themselves.
Is it good movie?
I'd heard of this flick several times before, but I've never actually seen it until now and I'm not sure why. This seems to be a bit of a surprise to me though because I like this type of flick a lot. A carnival? 80s? Horror? One word sentence fragments? Sign me up!
And on top of that, I had no idea that this was a Tobe Hooper flick! Unfortunately though, although it seems to have all of the ingredients I care to see in a dated horror flick, it's not as fun as I'd hoped. Of course the cast is full of paper-thin characters, with actors who are trying but can't get past their ludicrous dialogue.
It is a cool looking film though, and it's steeped in creepy imagery and atmosphere. I love the idea of using the funhouse as a sinister place- it just works and feels right. There are plenty of cool shots; the cinematography is quite decent here.
First of all, there is a killer in this movie but he isn't exactly a human slasher. I mean, he sort of is but he stretches the limits. Echoing Hooper's greatest ouevre, this killer is protective of his carnival 'family', and that's not the only reference to that film in this one.
The killer hideous freak in a Frankenstein mask who sports some decent practical effects supplied by the great Rick Baker. He's not the most exciting character and feels like wasted potential when you have characters like Marko the Magnificent (played by forgotten character actor Bill Finley) and Kevin Conway's performance as THREE different characters within the flick. The movie's cover shows a terrifying clown and has nothing to do with the film itself. Very disappointing.
Ultimately, this movie takes an awesome concept and doesn't build on it enough. It isn't overly gory or hilarious. It does sport a great setting and some cool camera work but it isn't quite enough.
Video / Audio
Video specs aren't listed, but the detail here looks really good. Sure the source material wasn't that nice to begin with, but this movie will never look better. Great stuff.
Audio is a stereo two channel track and although that's disappointing, this is about as good as it can be.
First up, a commentary with author and critic Callum Waddell and slasher fan Justin Kerswell. These guys love this little movie and are full of great trivia tidbits for you to enjoy.
Next, SFX guys Craig Reardon and Jeff Reddick step up for a track. More great stuff from a passionate guy in Reardon, this is also worth a listen.
The last commentary is a bit more disappointing and features producer Derek Power and Howard S. Berger. It's long, dull and full of dead air, nowhere near as fun as the other tracks.
Featurette time, first is Carnage at the Carnival: Tobe Hooper Remembers The Funhouse, and is an interview with the man himself. The guy remembers a lot, seems somewhat honest and provides some good insight into a movie many may have forgotten altogether.
Miles of Mayhem: Acting in Tobe’s Fun House is an interview with Miles Chapin, a guy who really never amounted to much in Hollywood but talks at great length about his experience making this schlocky piece of fun. Entertaining stuff, from the jerk who makes it all happen in the flick.
The Make-Up Madness of Craig Reardon: A Trilogy of Terror details Reardon's work with Hooper in three films, this one, Poltergeist and Eaten Alive. More great stuff, the guy seems like a nice individual and has lots of great stories.
Masterclass of Horror: Mick Garris on Tobe Hooper is an interview with Garris, a guy who has always struck me as a bit of a knob. I don't really care for the interview as it becomes really broad and delves into the same things I always hear Garris talking about, but a good inclusion.
There's also a Q and A with Hooper & Adam Gierasch (of flicks like Fertile Ground), taken from a live event. It's okay, but the footage looks terrible.
Finally, a photo gallery.
Well, this is one quality disc of a film that can be pretty hit and miss. If you're a fan of old-school slasherish movies done by one of the most famous names in horror, add this to your collection.