10/8/14 – 2014 OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE RECOMMENDATION #8 – The Funhouse.


In honor of American Horror Story: Freak Show premiering tonight (can’t wait!), I had to post a different little bizarre carnival ditty. And what an 80’s gem it is. The Funhouse is one of the movies I’ve always had a childhood connection to for a very specific reason. I grew up in a small town, going to an old school amusement park that had some of the greatest retro rides imaginable. Included in these retro rides were two, yes TWO, awesome dark rides full of old school animatronics, and a full blown funhouse. Those reading this in Utah, you know I’m talking about Lagoon. Now, sadly while a lot has changed at Lagoon over the years, and the funhouse is now gone for legal reasons (that thing was literally a death trap, full of Saw-like contraptions built to injure children), the two dark rides still operate today. They are Dracula’s Castle, and my personal favorite – The TerrorRide! When you watch The Funhouse, the ride they travel on, and the centerpiece of the film, is practically an exact clone of The TerrorRide. This is my connection. As silly as the premise of this film is (“let’s spend the night in the Funhouse!”), it was always a childhood dream of mine to do the exact same thing in The TerrorRide. Now, granted if things turned out for me like they did in this film, I wouldn’t be writing this. But whatever. The Funhouse is beautifully directed by Tobe Hooper, who brought us some of my favorite movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. Here, he treats the location of the travelling carnival with the dread and care that it requires. From the fantastic crane shot of the entire park as it’s closing, to the fantastic lighting and creep moments inside the Funhouse itself, Tobe has a perfect eye for this material. Yes, it’s a bit slow at the beginning much like many of these 80’s films, with a lot of buildup to a larger 3rd act. But even the “slow” stuff at the carnival is such a delight to me, because it’s a perfect time capsule of this type of travelling carnival that doesn’t really exist anymore. Throw in a deformed boy (more alien looking actually) with awesome makeup done by Rick Baker, chasing a bunch of non-sympathetic characters you want dead anyway, and this baby is just a lot of fun. Go with it, enjoy it, and relish the creepy carnie delights within.

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