The Funhouse

“Something is alive in the funhouse… something that has the form of a human, but not the face… something that feeds off the flesh and blood of young innocents…” ~The Funhouse (1981)

IMDB Summary: Four teenage friends spend the night in a carnival funhouse and are stalked by a deformed man in a Frankenstein mask.

Rotten Tomatoes rating: 62%

Why I love it: I was 14 when I saw this for the first time. I couldn’t wait to lie to my parents about where I was going, get high and hang out with boys at carnivals, despite what could happen…

Scary thing #1: Clowns. During the opening credits. Fuck you.

Scary thing #2: First peson perspective. We see through the eyes of someone with a mask on (á la Halloween) who is beathing heavily and looking at instruments of torture on a wall.

Scary thing #3: A hot chick with great boobs gets into the shower.

Scary thing #4: A masked person sneaks up on the chick with the great boobs in the shower (á la Psycho) and weilds a knife above her as she screams and then… the knife is rubber. She’s pissed. She tells her little brother Joey she won’t take him to the carnival this weekend now.

Aha. Tobe Hooper, who directed The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, made a horror movie that makes fun of it’s own genre. This is gonna be fun…

Amy and her great boobs lie to her parents when her hunky date Buzz, the gas station guy, comes-a-honkin’ outside to take her to the carnival. They get off to an awkward start before picking up her friends and everyone but Amy smokes out. They have a good time looking at freaks and deformed cows and babies. Amy’s little brother tails her. A hag of a fortune teller yells at them. There’s “beautiful girls, they wiggle and they dance!” A creepy dude is walking around in a Frankenstein mask. Then the idiot with the glasses comes up with the hall of fame of “what’s the worst that can happen?” plans: to kick it inside the funhouse all night.

While they’re all getting it on, Frankenstein dude kills the haggy fortune teller after trying to have sex with her. It’s clearly time to leave. But they all start dying one by one, because they’re so stupid to be there in the first place. Frankenstein dude’s mask comes off and he looks like an abortion. Amy is about as terrified as I’ve ever seen anyone in a horror movie, except for maybe Shelley Duvall in The Shining. I get a push notification on my phone, and it scares the shit out of me. The little brother has been looking for her after the carnival closes, and finally gets caught and dragged home. No one else would be that fortunate except I guess Amy, who escapes certain rape and murder at the hands of the abortion. Everyone dies. And she emerges from the funhouse at dawn, among the gypsys and the carnival workers, looking exactly like she’s been up all night trying to avoid being killed.

Yeah, this is a typical early 80’s slasher flick and yeah, it’s silly, but there’s something about it. Probably the mechanical clowns, which are already disturbing on another level, one we’re all familiar with that can be characterized as “get that fucking talking wannabe normal doll thing out of my sight.” Or maybe the way the teenagers are practically begging to be killed with their disrespectful laughter with the fortune teller and their pot and their sex. You just can’t act like a dumb twat if you want to survive.

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Next: Friday the 13th

Written by Anne Clendening
Anne Clendening was born and raised in L.A. She's a yoga teacher, a writer and occasionally slings cocktails in a Hollywood bar. She could eat chocolate cake for every meal of the day. She has a huge fear of heights and flying. And fire. She wishes she could speak French, play her guitar better and make cannoli. She's probably listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon right now, kickin’ it with her boxer dog and her hot Australian husband ★