The Funhouse

The Funhouse ★★★★★

A great location oozing with small town carnival atmos, filled with a solid cast of miscreants/jerk teenagers, frankenstein masked human-cow (?) mutant hybrid, and Tobe Hooper’s deep fried scuzz on display—as well as his macabre humor and knack for ramping up endings into loud soundwaved lunacy overdrive. 

1981 was such an insane year for slasher movies and The Funhouse opening with callbacks to Halloween, Psycho, and Universal Monsters (Glenn Strange F-Stein poster!!!) before deciding to spend at least 30 or 40 legit minutes experiencing a local town carnival... and it was never boring for me—I could smell the funnel cake, corn dogs, and carnivale mystique! My ex girlfriend’s family were carnival folk via their food truck business and I spent a big chunk of my 20’s at town fairs and carnivals... working the kitchen and hanging out with some of the hardest working people I’d ever met, so this movie hits a little spot inside me that will always smell the cotton candy or fresh kettle corn while creepy carny music plays in the background like some offbeat transmission from nowhere land where time never changes and old guys jerk off behind tents in public because people are disgusting and creepy.

Anyway, this manages to follow up a sleazy (realistic carnival hobo/pervy bum scenes!) yet legit carnival experience first act with a weirdo $100 fortune teller handjob mutant murder scene before sprawling into psycho Kevin Conroy carnival barker and ‘son’ terrorizing hooligan castaways looking for a harmless overnight thrill. The titular funhouse with its crazy automated puppets/insane lighting/loud noises looks perfect—a demented/trashed up Americana Hooper setting, with the Phantom of the Paradise in it, a wicked Kevin Conroe as THREE different carnival barkers, amazing score, and a final act showdown that keeps getting more intense/louder with each passing moment before that memorable early morning trash filled empty carnival final scene etches itself into the memory banks.

I dunno... I love this movie and I love Tobe Hooper—this weirdo deep fried southern gothic grime battered filth carnival ride of a movie rules and is absolutely one of his best pictures as far as I’m concerned.

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