Plot: While the carnival seems like a nice place to go on a double date, it can also serve as a terror filled and confusing location, especially when your life is in danger. Amy’s (Elizabeth Berridge) father tries to warn her against going to the carnival, but she goes opposite his wishes and allows Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) to take her there on their first date. These two are joined by Richie (Miles Chapin) and Liz (Largo Woodruff), and all four seem ready for a fun filled double date at the carnival. As they peruse the grounds, they end up drawn to a mysterious funhouse and venture inside. Once inside, the foursome decides to spend the night inside the funhouse, as both a prank and test of courage. What starts as a bold move to have some good times turns into a battle for survival, as the couples soon witness a murder and the killer has no intentions of leaving any loose ends.
Entertainment Value: The Funhouse has a simple premise, as brings a group of asshole teens to a carnival, then sets loose a madman to hunt them down. The narrative is paper thin and there’s not much of a story to this one, but the carnival atmosphere is great and there’s a strong slasher vibe that adds a lot of fun. I don’t mind this focus on mood and atmosphere, but if you’re more enticed by narrative elements, you might be a little put off by this one. But I think the authentic, creepy atmosphere of the carnival is more than enough to compensate, as just being inside such a twisted locale after closing seems ripe with horror potential. And the movie capitalizes on all of that potential, injecting all the dark corners of the carnival with tension and suspense, as well as the ever present danger of murderous carnies. Tobe Hooper’s direction keeps the focus on mood, which works well and the simple narrative is adequate, since the dark atmosphere carries the movie’s horror vibes. So for fans of creepy carnivals or 80s horror in general, The Funhouse is recommended.
A few bare breasts are showcased here, including an awkward scene with a younger brother sneaking in on his sister in the shower. There’s also some premature ejaculation and a burlesque show that our teens sneak a peek at, though the ladies all have pasties to cover the nips. The Funhouse has threads of a slasher movie, but it is rather light on the red stuff and little graphic violence when the killer lashes out. The best of the lot is when a dude is impaled, then given a few gunshot wounds for good measure, which produces moderate blood, but not all that much. There’s also a lame ax wound, a magic trick fake out sequence, electrocution, self abuse, and some other minor bloodshed here and there, but not much gore in this one. The dialogue is passable, but aside from some teen talk and carny barking, not much in this area is that memorable. As for the insanity scale, the carnival setting ensures creepiness is high, but in terms of wackiness or over the top madness, this movie doesn’t move the needle much.
Overall Insanity: 2/10
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