Kevin Conway

The Funhouse (1981) - Tobe Hooper

This is a movie that had been on my radar for a good while. I had seen it once or twice before but didn't think much of it apparently. The concept felt pretty good, I like the idea of setting this in a carnival. It reminds me that I have to watch Santa Sangre sometime. 

Teenagers sneak out and head to a carnival that has a bad reputation for being dangerous. They intend to break into the Funhouse and stay the night. However, while sneaking around, the group watches a strange masked man murder the fortune teller. They soon find out that this Carnival, like many, had a dark underbelly. 

The story is fantastic. It builds the backstory for so many of its characters. You get a good look at what is lurking in the shadows of this carnival. It doesn't appear that all of the carnies were in on the villianry that had been taking place. That added a layer to the story that made you think about this Carnival and it's killer reputation. 

Toby Hooper showed us his storytelling skills with Texas Chainsaw Massacre. His modern films have this quality as well. Toolbox Murders wasn't the greatest movie but Toby Hooper told a good story. The Funhose follows suite. Hooper's ability to tell such great stories is what usually helps take the movie up that extra notch. 

This movie has some really decent effects, even with the very minimal amount of blood and gore. The antagonist for the film is horrific on his own. The rest of the terror all comes from the suspense that builds while watching these teens trying to survive the night in this hellish carnival fun-house. Hooper is still green as a director, parts of this movie may drag a bit but it isn't horrible. 

This movie is a bit different from Massacre, in that he is trying his hand at a more mainstream feature. For Massacre he had a $300,000 budget and the film grossed $30.8 Million. This is according to Wikipedia. I am sure that the success of Massacre led to Hooper being at the helm here. Overall, he does a good job with a bigger budget. The characters are flushed out and you feel for them. It has a good story and a creepy atmosphere. It's definitely one of the best of the eighties. 

Director: Tobe Hooper

Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Jack McDermott, Cooper Huckabee, and Kevin Conway

Style: Suspenseful Teen Slasher - Circus Freaks

Country: USA

Studio: Universal

Did ya know...

Steven Spielberg asked Tobe Hooper to direct E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) but he turned it down because he was busy on this movie. However Hooper and Spielberg would work together on Poltergeist (1982).
An accident occurred during filming when a carnival ride carrying several passengers was left on for about twenty minutes to half an hour. The ride, one which has several octopus arms that spin around with rotating carriages, normally only runs for about four minutes per joyride. Thrillseekers vomited and yelled out real screams as the ride continued way past its end time. When stopped, the riders could not walk and were somewhat twisted in their musculature. An ambulance was called but no one was seriously injured.