Monday, April 5, 2010

Funhouse (1981)

The Funhouse is an interesting slasher film in that, after a terrific opening scene which pays homage to (while also spoofing) Halloween, it can barely be considered a slasher at all. I mean, we got lots of buildup for a movie that comes down to a retarded mutant and his father chasing four horny teens around a funhouse and offing them with little to no imagination. Tobe Hooper's followup to his adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot is an interesting misfire which borrows Frankenstein's monster (in this case, Jason Vorhees if he'd lived long enough to become a teenage rapist) and places him within the interesting world of carnival sideshows. The opening scene is a classic of stalking and slashing and what can only be considered some wildly inappropriate nudity. For the first 30 or 40 minutes I was entertained by scenes of carnival peep shows, two headed cows, a fetus in a jar, crotchedy old fortune tellers, and the promise of "teens" (Buzz looks about 35) in "love" getting it on. Unfortunately, the picture eventually collapses under a mountain of tedium.

Basically, what we got here is a movie with a teen girl (Amy), her bratty younger brother (Joey), her boyfriend (the aforementioned Buzz), her two friends, and a carnival which leaves a series of murders and rapes in its wake. At the previous town, a couple girls were found dead so understandably Amy's father doesn't want her anywhere near the thing. So, they come up with a story about going to the movies or some shit and head out for a fun night of making fun of freaks and sneaking a peak at real live boobies. Then, one of them (I'm sure it was a guy) comes up with the brilliant idea of hiding in the funhouse, waiting for the carnival to close for the night, and then having sweet, sweet sex on the disgusting floor. Also, Amy's brother Joey sneaks in. Also, they witness a carny in a Frankenstein mask about to have sex with an old fortune teller, prematurely ejaculate, and then murder the old hooker rather than pay up. Also, the guy's a mutant and the shame of his father (also a carny) who, upon discovering the corpse, beats his son for forcing him to cover up yet another murder. Also, I think they found out the kids saw everything so then spent the last thirty minutes or so stalking and slashing them. Also, ZZZZZZZZZZZ......

I didn't like this one very much. I did enjoy the carnival atmosphere. It seemed like they filmed this thing at a real carnival. They even set up some rides and shit. I loved the stuff with them just walking around and taking it all in, mocking the weirdness of it all, staring at the two headed cow, etc. Once they witness the murder things just take a turn for the worse. I was bored. I mean, we know right away who the killers are. No suspense there. We know who is going to survive. The kills are all sort of matter-of-fact. We got a guy hung up by a noose and then axed to the head after he's already dead. We got a girl clawed to death. We got a gunshot wound I think. Strangulation. Not too many teens in this thing so not too many deaths I guess. Since we don't have much death or gore I guess the thing we'd look for is suspense, but this picture doesn't have any. What we're left with is an atmospheric exercise. Yeah, it looks pretty good and there's some nudity and shit but so what? Maybe this was enough in 1981 but today I got something called the internet. No reason to sit through a ninety minute picture looking for boobs when I can just find thirty second clips online. I guess my attention span is getting smaller. Hooper let me down here.

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