Tuesday, 8 July 2008

The Funhouse

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writer: Lawrence Block
USA 1981

"The Funhouse" is a fairly traditional horror offering from Tobe Hooper, but one that nonetheless allows him to explore his love of gaudy, redneck Americana - in this case a creepy carnival that comes to town, much to the the delight of a group of pot smoking teenagers who decide to spend the night there. The carnival set-up is handled as expertly as you'd expect from Hooper, it being just his sort of thing, with unsettling sideshows, grotesque characters and (my favourite) what appear to be genuine deformed cows in an animal freakshow.

However "The Funhouse" takes quite a while to get going, and when it does it isn't a patch on "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre". Apart from an agonising chase scene set in the mechanical innards of a ghost train ride, there just isn't that much in the way of thrills. It's actually quite a slow film. Not necessarily a bad thing of course, but in this case it jars with the gaudy horror theme.

It's widely thought that Hooper lost his way after "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre", or even that it was a chance movie and he actually isn't that great a director. What can't be denied though is that his peculiar take on America has been a big influence on contemporary horror. It is great to watch a film like "The Funhouse" and see where the ideas in Rob Zombie's and Eli Roth's films come from. Unfortunately though, away from that colourful redneck vibe "The Funhouse" is a pretty boring and unremarkable mainstream horror movie.


Derek said...

I wonder why this one was added to the banned list?

Ben said...

Possibly the connection between the title and theme with childhood might have got some of the idiots at the BBFC in a tiz, as the Video Nasty list was largely the result of concerns about children getting hold of the films. It may have just got caught up in the hysteria though.