Haunted Honeymoon

Film Review: The Funhouse (1981)

SYNOPSIS:

Two young couples on a double date go to a mystifying carnival. For fun, they decide to spend the night in the funhouse. When they witness a vicious murder, they suddenly find themselves in terrible danger.

REVIEW:

The film was momentarily banned in the UK and labeled as a ‘video nasty’. This was because the movie was mistaken for “The Fun House”, one of the countless alternate titles for The Last House on Dead End Street (1977). The films stars an incredibly young looking Elizabeth Berridge playing Amy, who’s got a date with a local gas station attendant named Buzz that her parental units are not too impressed with. They don’t think he fit’s the bill, and they don’t want her going to that disturbing traveling carnival that’s in town because of the two dead girls they found when the carnival came around last year.

Once they arrive they spend a lot of time looking around at all the wanders of a carnival. Such as; deformed babies in jars, slightly overweight ladies dancing naked, a dude dressed as Dracula that gets the girl to stand in a box then hammers a big stake into it. It takes a while for this film to get moving.

Sounds in the night are very comparable to the sound of a inexpensive laser beam. In this film, rednecks take pleasure in intimidating children with guns. Circus grounds are the equivalent to a hotel for bums. Monsters pay for sex and actually get it and Is it just me or are there always large scary dogs behind fences at night in these movies? Then, a strip Club at a Circus, what in the world? 40 minutes into the film they finally enter the funhouse.

Elizabeth Berridge was in Amadeus as Mozart’s woman! You get to see Berridges bare her breasts. It had me thinking…….How old was she in this movie? She looks ridiculously young to be naked. The characters in the film were as typical as any horror film. There’s Richie, the geek type who decides it would be fun to stay in the funhouse all night and he dies for his lack of common sense.

Liz, Richie’s little girlfriend ends up offering herself to the monster so the monster will let her live. Which is never a good idea, even if it is a horny monster. She’s killed for her lack of common sense. Buzz, the jock type that Amy is on her first date with, stands up for his women and gets killed for it. Crazy kids. They never seem to learn.

The sets and lighting in the film are impressive. This film is very masterfully crafted and evocative of many of the older horror films of the 50s and earlier. The funny thing about this one is there is very little blood or gore, in fact almost none – yet this movie doesn’t need it. It is good enough relying on the old school vibe and utter terror, perfect for drive in theaters. The special effects are quite well done, especially for the time period. Watch when the freak loses his Frankenstein mask and shows his true colors and you will agree… Anomalous yet very successful makeup for the freak. I mean, How do you make a child so alien like from two human beings?

Trivia from IMDB:

The beginning sequence is an homage to both Psycho and Halloween and Steven Spielberg asked Tobe Hooper to direct E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial but he turned it down because he was busy on this movie. However, Hooper and Spielberg would work together on Poltergeist. Dean R. Koontz wrote a novelization of the screenplay under the pseudonym Owen West. The book is based on the film completely.

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