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"The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

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"The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Old 09-27-14, 04:33 PM
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"The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11





The Funhouse (1981)



Selected by Chad



IMDB ENTRY

ON YOUTUBE
This is the "MonsterVision with Joe Bob Briggs" version.

ALYXSTARR LINK

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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags are unnecessary in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF SPOILERS.
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2014 DISCUSSION THREAD | 2014 LIST THREAD


Last edited by Chad; 10-05-14 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 09-28-14, 06:13 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I'd planned on re-watching this for the challenge. I've had the Scream Factory! BD since it's release and haven't seen the film since its first DVD release.

Read the novelization this past summer and can't wait to see how this compares. Here were my thoughts from my GoodReads review: Carnies always have the potential for creepiness, and I would have liked it even more if it explored that aspect a bit more. Ridiculous backstory, but perfectly suited to its B-movie origin. There is a lot of the Carrie influence in the mother/daughter relationship here.The copy I'd purchased from a used bookstore was a first-printing paperback under Koontz's Owen West pseudonym. Looking forward to watching the Tobe Hooper film again this October. That Scream Factory! blu-ray is burning a hole on my movie shelf.
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Old 10-11-14, 12:14 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Nice homages. Really great monster creature. The carnival setting is really atmospheric and that "works."

The pacing is a bit off early in the film as the friends aimlessly wonder the carnival, it's casual and without direction slowing the film but probably necessary for characterization and to establish the setting.

I love the over the top final death scene then how the heroine stumbles out with no one around her realizing anything that has happened.
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Old 10-11-14, 12:51 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by indiephantom View Post
That Scream Factory! blu-ray is burning a hole on my movie shelf.
I have 5-10 unopened Scream Factory BDs. I really need to start working thru them.
Originally Posted by Undeadcow View Post
Nice homages. Really great monster creature. The carnival setting is really atmospheric and that "works."

The pacing is a bit off early in the film as the friends aimlessly wonder the carnival, it's casual and without direction slowing the film but probably necessary for characterization and to establish the setting.

I love the over the top final death scene then how the heroine stumbles out with no one around her realizing anything that has happened.
Agreed; especially loved that final shot of her alone.
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Old 10-11-14, 09:10 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Quite different than the novelization, which made the character more like a sympathetic Carrie-type character. In the Koontz book, the girl's mother was actually the mother of both creatures in The Funhouse. The thing in the jar really did bite the boyfriend and the whole thing is a revenge tale, where the Carnival Barker (written much more like the lead villain in Something Wicked This Way Comes) uses the Carnival to search for the offspring of the mother he wanted to punish. It's an entertaining book, but the story worked better on the screen by sticking to basics.

Love that devastating final shot. Hooper knows how to put his final girls through the wringer.

Last edited by indiephantom; 10-12-14 at 11:38 AM.
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Old 10-11-14, 10:44 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by indiephantom View Post
Quite different than the novelization, which made the character more like a sympathetic Carrie-type character. In the Koontz book, the girl's mother was actually the mother of both creatures in The Funhouse. The thing in the jar really did bite the boyfriend and the whole thing is a revenge tale, where the Carnival Barker (written much more like the lead villain in Something Wicked This Way Comes) uses the Carnival to search for the offspring of the mother he wanted to punish. It's an entertaining book, but the story worked better on the screen by sticking to basics.

Love that devastating final shot. Hooper knows how to put his final girls through the ringer.
Thanks for the info on the novel! Even Joe Bob Briggs pointed out how the characterization on the monster seemed to be "Off" towards the final act.

Speaking of JBB, I chose to watch the linked youtube-Monstervision version in the 1st post. And to my surprise, it ended up being the R-rated version with JBB's inserts cleverly added in. Now this is how I perfer my Monstervision!

BTW, is this the first post-Halloween slasher where the "Final girl" smokes weed and has sex?
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Old 10-12-14, 12:33 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by indiephantom View Post
Love that devastating final shot. Hooper knows how to put his final girls through the ringer.
I definitely got Marilyn Burns flashbacks when Elizabeth Berridge gave those wild-eyed looks at the camera at the end. Speaking of which, did anyone else notice the parallels between the relationships of the Barker to his son and Jim Siedow's character in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and HIS son, Leatherface?

And one more thing, now that I'm at it: what did the kid brother have to do with anything at all? It seemed to me that his "story" was added to the film to pad out the running time to an acceptable length.
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Old 10-12-14, 09:43 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I'm tired of movies portraying men at carnival peep shows as perverts!
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Old 10-12-14, 11:45 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
And one more thing, now that I'm at it: what did the kid brother have to do with anything at all? It seemed to me that his "story" was added to the film to pad out the running time to an acceptable length.
In the novel this kid is like a prototype for Tommy Jarvis (Corey Feldman version) in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. He's a horror film buff who actually has a great and loving relationship with his brother. Since their mother is an alcoholic religious nutjob, the brother depends heaving on his relationship with his sister.

His part in the novelization is quite strong. He plans to run away and join the carnival and becomes a bit of a hero in the book, actually watching out for his sister. He realizes that Amy and her friends are trapped in the Funhouse and tries to get to the bottom of it. His chapters have some of the best details about the carny way of life. The Carnival Barker tricks him and uses him in the climax to threaten Amy. So, he is an active participant in the story's conclusion and fits in nicely there.

He still plays pranks on his sister that involve horror props, but it's all without the creep factor that's in the film.

Last edited by indiephantom; 10-12-14 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 10-12-14, 11:48 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by Mondo Kane View Post
BTW, is this the first post-Halloween slasher where the "Final girl" smokes weed and has sex?
I noticed this, too. Another strange aspect of the book is that she has an abortion in the early part of the story and her friend is trying to convince her to move to Vegas and turn to prostitution. No lie. Haha. I guess I'm definitely pimping this book, but it's worth a read for sure.
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Old 10-12-14, 12:13 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Tobe Hooper is such an interesting case, many of his movies are vastly different from his masterpiece, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which is one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Even his own sequel to that movie is vastly different in tone. The gritty, snuff film element of TCM can't be found in The Funhouse, but does that mean it's not an effective horror movie?

There's a lot to like in The Funhouse, I love the setting, the bright colors and carnival music set a nice tone for the first act of the film. There's always been something sinister about carnivals, the innocent fun and games, clowns and toys, mixed in with spook houses and peep shows. The film excels when it's exploring the seedy personal life of the carnies, specifically Kevin Conway and the fortune teller. I very much agree with rbrown498 that the family element from TCM is being employed here as well. The relationship between Conway and his son is disturbing, abusive, and manipulative. The Monster is very similar to Leatherface, a hulking, whimpering man-child. He doesn't hate his victims, in fact, he seems fascinated by them, poking at a terrified woman with a child-like curiosity.

Thinking about The Monster, and Leatherface, you wonder about nature vs. nurture. These "villains" don't strike me as being born evil, but raised in an abusive family and thus succumbing to violence when angered. The Monster in the Funhouse just seemed to want to be loved, and one victim recognizes this and tries to use that to manipulate him, even though she is repulsed by him. So, while very different in tone from TCM, there are still some major similarities. The gritty style and brutal tone of TCM elevates it, but The Funhouse being a bit more tame and entertaining makes it easier to sit through. Pick your poison.
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Old 10-12-14, 12:21 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I definitely got Marilyn Burns flashbacks when Elizabeth Berridge gave those wild-eyed looks at the camera at the end. Speaking of which, did anyone else notice the parallels between the relationships of the Barker to his son and Jim Siedow's character in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and HIS son, Leatherface?

And one more thing, now that I'm at it: what did the kid brother have to do with anything at all? It seemed to me that his "story" was added to the film to pad out the running time to an acceptable length.
I agree with everything above.

This is one flick that I believe I watched last year or the year before and didn't care for. I still think it is weak but I enjoyed it this time around. I think I may have liked it more if I had the BD instead of watching it in crappy Youtube quality. The DVD with Netflix is on the "very long wait" list and I hate to pay 4 or 5 bucks for a streaming rental when you can buy it for $15.

I find Joe Bob Briggs annoying and that version posted on Youtube was non-anamorphic so I ended up watching an anamorphic version with Spanish subtitles. Not the greatest way to watch this but I have already bought too many horror flicks for this month and may pick this one up next year.

Question...after the monster gets caught on the hook, why does the main chick just stand there waiting for him to grab her? They could have filmed that scene better.

My rating: *** out of *****
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Old 10-12-14, 12:38 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by indiephantom View Post
I noticed this, too. Another strange aspect of the book is that she has an abortion in the early part of the story and her friend is trying to convince her to move to Vegas and turn to prostitution. No lie. Haha. I guess I'm definitely pimping this book, but it's worth a read for sure.
Here are the facts in the case regarding the film vs. the novel:

a) The book is a novelization of the screenplay, and it was written after the screenplay was written.

b) All of the extra stuff that's in the novelization is there because the screenplay didn't give Koontz enough story to build a novel-length manuscript around.

c) The events of the novel can't be used to justify character actions and motivations in the film simply because the novel was written after the screenplay for the film. As Matthew Hurwitz points out in his novel vs. film comparison, the first thing in the novel that correlates to the film happens around page 236, when Buzz picks up Amy for their date at the carnival. That leaves only 91 pages of the 327-page novel that actually correspond to the film...and even that correspondence had to be jiggered with in order to make the events of the film fit in with Koontz's backstory.

Essentially, what I'm trying to say is that the novel and the film are two entirely different beasts. The two have about as much in common as "Carl Dreadstone"'s much-maligned novelization of The Creature from the Black Lagoon has to do with the classic film.

Now to move to another comment: Mondo Kane asked if this was the first post-Halloween film in which the final girl both smokes weed and has sex. I never got the impression in The Funhouse that Amy and Buzz had sex. Sure, there was some second base action going on, but I think that the appearance of the fortune teller and the freak stopped the couples from going any further. That's just my read on it.

Last edited by rbrown498; 10-12-14 at 12:45 PM.
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Old 10-12-14, 12:48 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I also never got the impression that they had sex.

After checking IMDB I noticed that the Magician is played by William Finley, who we just saw as the Phantom in Phantom of the Paradise.
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Old 10-12-14, 12:59 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Most novelizations are based on original screenplays and not only the completed films. While the circumstances were likely different here, I feel that there are enough elements present in the book that correlate with events we see that might have been altered from Block's original script. In the case of the younger brother, if it's not merely a red herring, I think there's certainly something deleted from his storyline in the film. It's strange, too, because according to Hooper's commentary he worked closely with Block and they added that great opening scare/perv scene after the entire film was shot already. So, the brother would have been even more insignificant in the original cut of the film.
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Old 10-12-14, 05:14 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Brother was just really creepy. Seeing his sister naked and then just randomly walking in the middle of the night and wanting to find his sister. That part was just a drag and when he ended up not even meeting his sister in the carnival, it was a waste. Otherwise, outside that part, it was a really good film that I would watch again. Love the monster and the tone of the movie.
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Old 10-12-14, 07:37 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and getting into it. It wasn't bad, just never grabbed my interest. From reading this thread I think I want to get the book.
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Old 10-13-14, 10:51 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Alive alive alive
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Old 10-14-14, 07:34 AM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
I had a hard time connecting with any of the characters and getting into it. It wasn't bad, just never grabbed my interest. From reading this thread I think I want to get the book.
I just noticed that I posted this in the wrong subset thread; but it pretty much still applies.
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Old 10-14-14, 04:45 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I've found this film to get a little better on subsequent viewings. Like many of you I thought it was just okay the first time I saw it but now 3 or 4 times later I think i'ts pretty darn good
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Old 10-14-14, 05:29 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I really like this film. The atmosphere is great. The monster is menacing. It exploits the natural creepy vibe that carnivals have.
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Old 10-14-14, 11:26 PM
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Re: "The Funhouse" Reviews/Discussion - 2014 Horror Challenge: Day 11

I'm not a particularly religious person, but I was reminded of the oft-quoted verse from 1 Corinthians while watching this film: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." There's a preoccupation with adulthood that's pervasive throughout the film, and Tobe Hooper seems to equate adulthood with a deflation of expectations. Starting with the "homage" to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, Hooper establishes a theme of lowered (or at least altered) expectations by playing the scene for laughs. Amy's date turns out not to be the filling station dreamboat she thought he was, and they have an argument on the way to pick up her friends. (As an aside, if you should find yourself inside a horror movie, and one of your friends says, "Hey! I've got a great idea!" do the opposite of whatever is said.)

Let's talk about the carnival. If there's a better representation of broken dreams than the carnival, then I don't know what it is. It's a place that is inspires nostalgia and disdain. Buzz seems to needle the carny running the "Ring the Bell" game over the size of the prize before handing it to Amy. The highlight of the sideshow is a miscarriage. They mock the fortune teller, Madame Zena. The strip show is just an anatomical exhibition of vulgarity. The titular Funhouse ride itself is just another source of ridicule for the young couples rather than thrills. Taken as a whole, it makes the perfect setting for this "coming-of-age" tale of sorts.

Whether it's expressed or not, the main characters are hoping to enter adulthood over the course of the night. Amy hopes to become a woman by losing her virginity to Buzz. Her brother Joey sneaks away to the carnival to prove to his family that he doesn't need their help or their approval. Even "The Monster" pays Madame Zena to make a man of him. In each case, their goals are thwarted. The Monster blows his wad before he gets the opportunity to have intercourse. When Amy and her friends don't come out of the Funhouse, Joey comes out of hiding and begins walking towards the exit as the carnival shuts down around him. His plan to surprise his sister and demonstrate his self-reliance is subverted, and Hooper employs a crane shot to emphasize Joey's anonymity -- nobody cares that he came alone. (It's a little telling that in a later scene the carny that finds him caresses his face almost too tenderly while his parents look on with slightly annoyed expressions.) The crane shot is employed again at the end of the film when Amy walks away from the Funhouse. It signifies that she has become adult as a result of the events of that night. It just didn't happen in the way she had expected.

It's no surprise then that most people find the film somewhat disappointing. Hooper is attempting to demonstrate that he's no longer the young director that made The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The Funhouse is Hooper's way of putting away his "childish things."
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