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Overall Rating
2.78

Awesome: 20%
Worth A Look: 17.78%
Just Average: 20%
Pretty Crappy: 4.44%
Sucks37.78%

3 reviews, 27 user ratings


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Funhouse, The
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Merry-Go-Round Would Be More Frightening"
1 stars

For those looking for something chock-full of scares and gore, look elsewhere. This is one tame and dull film that makes you hunger for something more stimulating, like perhaps a tax audit.

At the beginning of Tobe Hooper's abysmal The Funhouse, a pretty eighteen-year-old woman undresses in the bathroom and steps into the shower, and this is intercut with a point-of-view shot of someone in the next room taking a knife out of a rack and donning a mask and then proceeding into the bathroom where the shower curtain is pulled back and the woman screams in terror. Not to worry, as it happens, because the culprit is really the woman's much-younger brother teasing her with a rubber cutting instrument. Already, Hooper has paid far-from-subtle homages to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and John Carpenter's Halloween, but the scene lacks even an iota of orgiastic release -- it's a predictable payoff that's neither frightening nor clever. And, unfortunately, this is all too telling of the remainder of the film. The main story involves a double-dating group (one of whom is the woman from the shower) attending the local carnival in Cedar Falls, Iowa, that's just opened up, despite a warning from the showering woman's father that two Girl Scouts turned up dead near the location of this same carnival a couple of months back. Right before closing, they decide to spend the night in the funhouse for kicks, but after the murder of a drunken fortune teller at the hands of a hideously-deformed man-beast, they're hunted through the locked-for-the-night confines of this structure, where they're picked off one by one. It's not enough that the story takes a good hour to get going, but even then Hooper's staging of the sequences and building of suspense are stilted. The sections leading up to the funhouse are wanton exposition that have very little to do with the happenstances in the second half, and the imagery inside of it lacks the phantasmagorical intensity that would help shroud the proceedings with some doom-laden atmospherics. The filmmaking as a whole isn't particularly expressive, with dull widescreen framing overshadowing Andrew Laszlo's fine lighting -- which does what John Alcott's lighting in Terror Train did: giving a slasher film a professional-looking sheen. I'll admit there's one novel touch: as opposed to most films of this genre, this one puts forth a heroine who shows her breasts in the first scene and again later on down the line, while her girl friend doesn't so much as undo a button with her guy; this, of course, flies in the face of the unwritten rule that the more promiscuous the woman the more certain their doom. But Hooper, while not terribly talented nor deprived of talent, directs with an impersonal overdeliberateness that squeezes the fright right out of the material. And with the murders uncreatively concocted, there's little for the audience to fall back on, except in remembrance of better moments from better other films of Hooper's, like even his underrated 1986 remake of Invasion of Mars, which had a freakish outlandishness to it that was cinematically alive. All in all, The Funhouse is a dilapidated structure that lags behind even a merry-go-round in the thrills-and-shriek department.

There are plenty of more satisfying films of this type out there. Simply close your eyes and point to a box in the Horror section, and it'll likely afford you a better time than this dire production.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=2984&reviewer=327
originally posted: 06/23/06 14:44:50
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User Comments

1/01/10 Chad Dillon Cooper Ok horror film. A letdown from Texas chainsaw massacre. 2 stars
12/15/09 A Girl underrated and that's too bad 4 stars
1/08/09 my name is Anonymous. a very freaky slasher. 5 stars
11/12/08 Popcorn muncher Don't judge it by today's standars. It's not great but it's worth watching 4 stars
11/02/08 mr.mike Only problem is it is slow-moving in this post MTV world. 3 stars
6/07/07 Mikey G. Atmospheric, well acted and directed. Unfortunately, the monster is laughably bad. 3 stars
6/01/07 Vince Good score and production values but it's more a slow paced monster film than a slasher 3 stars
3/01/07 action movie fan good shocker-great atmospheric fun house wax dummies-good stoyr too 4 stars
2/05/06 dudeonlong vastly underated at the time,now starting to receive it's due. 5 stars
8/27/04 Josh Standlee I saw it on Halloween night last year, and I was VERY entertained! 5 stars
6/18/04 Chad Foster A great Horror flick! 5 stars
6/14/04 Jason Boggs I love The Funhouse. Especially since I like a good mutant stocker rapist killer flick! 5 stars
3/03/04 cKy This movie kicks ass. I recommend this film to anyone that likes 80's b-movies. 5 stars
11/14/03 American Slasher Goddess Atmospheric and scary. 4 stars
11/08/03 Terry Stewart Jr Loved the shower scene 5 stars
10/29/03 Pacado Boring, Cheesy Horror Film 1 stars
9/07/03 The Freak Great Music theme,and Freaky scenes, Bad Script scenes and acting 4 stars
7/24/03 George Wilkins Incredible music score makes this worth seeing 4 stars
2/28/03 Jack Sommersby I concur, Charles. This is a slow-moving piece of dreck. (Berridge's tits ARE nice, though) 1 stars
11/23/02 Charles Tatum Just another slasher film 1 stars
3/04/02 stevonsw@yahoo.com Chilly Scarey don't go By yourself in the Fun House 4 stars
2/17/02 Kelly Fulton Actually Koontz wrote his version AFTER the film was made and then released to co-incide it 1 stars
10/13/01 Andrew Carden Very Scary and Chilling Movie, Exciting and Lots Of Action. 5 stars
4/22/01 WhiteZomby@aol.com Terrific atmosphere and some good dark humor make this a minor classic 4 stars
11/18/00 Bill G. Great Cinematgraphy and Music 5 stars
4/24/00 lucas jackson I thought horror movies were supposed to be scary 1 stars
12/12/99 SID Great direction but a fucking awful script. I could write a better funhouse movie. 2 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  13-Mar-1981 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004

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