It's Final Girl Film Club day! I watched and reviewed this month's selection The Funhouse a while back, and was sadly a bit disappointed. While I got a lot of hate mail soon after, I still stand by my initial criticisms. Perhaps in another time and another place The Funhouse and I would have got along better. For now enjoy this reposting and be thankful you aren't trapped in a funhouse with a fat Geisha lady that has nothing better to do than laugh at you.
I had a nightmare once where I was trapped in some kind of car wash in a floating car (you know how these "dream" things work right?) and there was this animatronic doll puppet thing with a face like...like that friggen witch puppet from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood!
And she was teaching a class at the chalkboard and I can still remember what it smelled like...some kind of musk, or incense-like smell predominately found in some sort of Indian boutique OR Hippie store. What does all this mean? Animatronic doll things are scary. And yes in most cases this means that Disney World is at times a very scary place to be.
....But I still love it.
As luck would have it, while sitting through the opening credits of The Funhouse, I started cowering under the bed sheets due to all the nice shots of the animatronic puppet dolls that reside in the funhouse.
I figured I was right on track to enjoy an hour and 30 minutes of good old creepy fun. Unfortunately I had to wait about an hour into the film to get a solid dose of anything particularly creepy. And even then I found myself sadly yawning on more than one occasion. The imagery of the things inside the funhouse are fantastic. But the pacing, and the story--could have been better. And less borrrrrrrrrrring.
The story goes like this; a group of real rabble rousers who smoke pot decide that it would be a real gas to spend the night in a carnival funhouse. Whoever thinks it's fun to spend the night with evil dolls, and the leftover smell of dry ice--is no friend of mine. Anyways. In the middle of getting to second base, the group witnesses a monstrous act, a murder. They are filled with panic and in their attempt to escape from the funhouse, run into more trouble than they bargained for.
I guess I was hoping that the story would somehow involve the reanimation of the creepy dolls in the funhouse. Wouldn't that be freaking sweet? It's like Waxwork but better and creepier. I guess it just really bothered me that the only thing keeping them there was the presence of real people and further more, the result of an accident. I also found that they spent a little too much time at the carnival before deciding that they would want to spend the night in the funhouse. We literally went to every single attraction along with them, and it took about an hour. What is that? I understand that the animal freak show and the mutated fetus thing in the jar are important for the story's sake. But do we really need to see the magician (how did he do that trick anyways?)
and the peep show?
That reminds me. This movie is really horny. From the start, when the little brother plays his great prank on his sister while she's in the shower- we realize that there's a lot of boobs. And by the way I don't know what kind of show that little kid is running, but he was staring at his sisters soapy and wet teats a little too long if you ask me. What a perv. Then there's the peepshow, the romp in the funhouse with more boobs, the prostitution of the gross fortune teller, giving an HJ to the mutant and him not being able to hold on for long. And there's also a weird, drooling kind of rape scene...
Oh and also--did anyone else think the main girl was about 12 years old at the very beginning? She comes into the bathroom and then you realize that she's going to shower and suddenly you get really worried that this is going to turn into a kiddie porn or something revolting. And then she takes off her robe, to unveil some pretty massive (and saggy) teats which then of course makes you realize, oh she's probably not 12 she just LOOKS 12. But seriously. I had a mini heart attack there for a bit.
And while I did typically enjoy a lot of the imagery, especially parts where the dolls started up again during spurts of electricity problems and became either part of a murder weapon, or were used to dispose or transport dead bodies.
Excellent touch! Other than I didn't really love this as much as I thought I would. There were a lot of random things that weren't explained very well. Dramatic "I'm so horrified at something" faces with an unclear reason for the face in the first place for instance, or how the little brother seems like he's going to have a major role in possibly saving his sister or at the very least becoming a victim, but then he just gets saved and chauffeured off! So much for that interesting plot development. And while I do think it's interesting how the mutant son becomes the real attraction/scary thing/monster --I just think he was really really REALLY lame. Those strangled cat noises he was making at the end? Meh.
I guess the main gripe here is that it takes far too long for anything to happen. With nothing interesting happening beforehand. Which some would refer to as a "slow burn", but I'm thinking this is just an example of a bad storyline. Even when the supposedly good stuff does happen it's not all that interesting either. Yes my mind will be scarred for life with images of that fat Geisha lady on top of the funhouse laughing,
but I'm mainly just going to be annoyed at how boring most of it was. I was hoping for some full on creepiness and excitement but it ended up just being bland with a side of boring. Rumor has it my good friend Eli Roth expressed interest in remaking this. While I don't think he is the right man for the job I do think this movie could benefit from some help. Particularly help from me who knows exactly why those animatronic things are scary, and how they can be scarier. Just kidding I don't know anything. But I would like to see those elements play a bigger role in the evilness of the funhouse. Fuck those carnies just being lousy at holding in their emotions. I don't want to see a movie about the misfit child acting out again, I want some damn creepy puppet dolls damnit.
Did anyone else think the over sized Frankenstein's monster mask, was more frightening than what was underneath?....I guess it's probably just me.
I 1000% had the same reaction to the shower moment you're referring to. I thought I was going to jail.
It's got its moments, but overall this movie is just a nostalgia trip for me.
I'm old and I was around when these movies came out, when slashers had their heyday...when you're a kid, these movies are unbelievably horrifying- stuff like this and Prom Night. Watching them now, they're not that great. Or even, really, a LITTLE great, but they still FEEL great because of all the rememberingness.
Yeah, I agree that the movie isn't that great, but Dean Koontz wrote a movie tie-in book version that I thought was much better. Without giving too much away, the book gives more backstory to the characters and also provides a connection between the final girl and the carnival. If the movie was remade but instead followed the Koontz version of events, then I think it could turn out to be pretty decent.
I really enjoy The Funhouse for the reasons you mentioned...all of the shit that goes down in the funhouse itself is awesome, and I love the crazy use of colors and strobe lighting, mixed with all the creepy animatronic shit.
However, I do like the long lead up time spent with the teens and the 37-year-old boy toy of the main girl. Nothing happens, sure, but just the odd and off kilter atmosphere that the carnival has makes it appealing for me.
Also, I must mention that I love when that gypsy chick says: "Don't come back or I'll break every bone in your fuckin' bodies!" Word up gypsy lady.
Sounds like an MST 3000 episode in the making! And you are so right about that puppet from Mr. Rogers. That thing always freaked me out as a kid.
I personally dig this movie, but I agree with what you say about it taking a long time for something to happen. I guess what Hooper was trying to do was kind of get his audience to absorb that carnival atmosphere, which can get quite creepy at times.
I liked how we explore all the different carnival attractions, because when you stop and look at them, they are pretty creepy all by themselves.
I think this movie gets better after a couple of viewings, when you already know what to expect, and simply absorb the weird carnival atmosphere.
Did you get a vibe like Hooper was kind of playing once again with similar themes he played with in TheTexas Chainsaw Massacre? Again, we have a dysfunctional family, we have a "son" thats monster like, and a murderer. I guess this is one of Hoopers favorite themes.
You know what's funny: I have a completely reverse opinion than you on this one. I grew up with this one and always liked without loving it, thinking it pretty subpar, sleazy, and wasting of potential. But watching it with a pen in hand and paying attention to its construction, I thought it was so much better than I thought. The slowness built the atmosphere for me to a point where the actual kills are almost disappointing. Strangely different view I had this time.
Oooh nuts Emily, does this mean we can't be soul sisters anymore??
I actually just read your review, I think if I had spent more time with Funhouse, and like reaaallllly got to know it, dates, small talk, making out what have you--then I might be able to enjoy it more.
I think in many ways it's the initial disappointment of finding out what animatronic puppets were NOT the killers. I really wanted that, I did. Hehe
See Andre, we seriously are soul sistahs because when I was your age, I too always wanted nothing more than to see that animatronic clown slice up the slut. That still would've been a funner movie. Today, however, in my old age, I see a different film than the early 20s me saw. Perhaps in time, you, little sis, will see it too.
Now give me back my hair brush or I'm telling mom.
It's SO weird too because my real sister's name is Emily. Twilight Zone music......
Good point about the horniness, the film is about 50% more horny than the average slasher film as documented in the Precise Laboratory Film Testing Academy (PLFTA), I think I can see where Hooper was going with this. How the carnival represents the carnal urges as opposed to the small town conservative values. But, for all that it doesn't really go anywhere.
art and review
The Funhouse is loosely based on a Dean Koontz novel. The novel is darker and more intelligent. This movie version is just another slasher movie only this time it happens in a carnival freakshow. The horror rides inside the Funhouse are truly dangerous and for real whereas in an ordinary Funhouse its supposed to be make believe. The mutant who wears a Frankenstein monster to conceal his more hideous deformed human face is pitiful as well as scary. Such deformed people really do exist in real life and are victims of a sick cruel joke by Nature. People are cruel but so is Nature. The deformed mutant wants female companionship. Of course what he wants most is what he will never have. No woman wants to be with him and the poor wretch suffers from endless loneliness. The mutant is killed in the end in this not so fun movie. Its depressing.
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