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Black October 3: The Funhouse

October 3, 2009

Here’s an odd little nugget from my horror film stash: The Funhouse, a 1981 slasher schlock-off directed by Tobe Hooper. There isn’t much to say about this one. It’s the story of a group of young people who discover that the ratty old carnival that’s come to town has a few secrets hiding under the greasepaint.

This is the sort of movie that you’d expect to have Jamie Lee Curtis in it, but she’s not around. Instead, you get Elizabeth Berridge and Cooper Huckabee as the good-looking main couple. I think I will start introducing myself as Cooper Huckabee, just for laughs. Kevin Conway plays The Barker, the carnival’s crazed ringleader.

This film always stays with me because of its central concept: that a very strange person lives under the floorboards of one of the trailers. When the heroes learn of this person’s existence, the story kicks in.

The Funhouse isn’t a very good movie. It highlight’s Hooper’s storytelling weaknesses and problems working with actors, but does not offer any of the stylistic flair that makes other movies, like Texas Chain Saw Massacre, work. That film looked dirty and cheap, because it was. And it was supposed to. The Funhouse, trying to horn in on the post-Halloween scream boom of the early 80s, is a messy collection of scenes with very few legitimate frights and too little gore to satisfy fans of any of those things.

The Funhouse gets an F for formula and forgettable.

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