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The teenager Amy Harper dates Buzz Dawson for the first time and they go to the carnival with their friends Richie and Liz. They smoke grass and have good-time visiting the attractions including a side show with freak animals. The silly Richie suggests the group to spend the night in the Funhouse for fun. During the night, they witness the murder of the fortune teller Madame Zena by a man wearing a mask of Frankenstein from an opening in the ceiling of a room. They decide to leave the fun house but they find all the exits locked. Meanwhile Richie sneaks in the room and steals the money of the manager of the place. The masked man returns with his father and owner of the fun house to show the corpse of Madame Zena; when the man realizes that he had been robbed, he presses his son that removes the mask and shows his horrible face. Richie startles and drops his lighter in the room. The owner asks his freak son to chase the thieves and eyewitnesses in a night of terror for the teenagers.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The title for the film's French release is 'Massacres dans le train fantôme', meaning 'Massacres on the Ghost Train'. See more »
Despite the funhouse being a portable carnival attraction, it has a basement. See more »
When I was a kid, I once tried to spook my older brother by hiding in his closet. While I was waiting in there to jump out and scare him, a weird thought came into my head. What if he knew I was in there, and he was standing just outside the closet door, waiting to jump out and scare me?
So, what happened?
He locked you in, didn't he?
I waited for three hours till my parents came home and got me out. I was too scared to touch the doorknob. I... I wet my pants.
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Although the 1987 UK CIC video release was uncut in terms of violence it ran around 3 minutes shorter than the cinema version, and the differences appeared to be some dialogue and narrative edits. It contained the scenes of reefer smoking which were missing from some later Film Four showings. See more »
A teenage girl sneaks off with three friends to a carnival even though her father warned her that there were issues with this sideshow the previous year. At first the four are having a great time but after witnessing a murder they become the hunted by a mutant.
Tobe Hooper's THE FUNHOUSE was released at a time when slashers were taking over the genre and if you look at the poster you'd think that this was going to be another but it's actually not. I think the film had a pretty negative reputation for quite sometime because people were going in expecting something that what they actually got. Technically speaking this is an extremely well-made film that manages to build up a rather nice atmosphere and it certainly has some interesting stuff going for it but there are still some flaws that keep it from being a good picture.
It's interesting that Hooper would go for a scare picture even though that's not what people were really wanting in 1981. The film manages to have some very good moments thanks in large part to Hooper giving it a very interesting atmosphere. You can certainly feel the carnival atmosphere as you watch the picture and the screenplay certainly gives us a lot of character development for the four leads. Another good thing the film has going for it is the cinematography and music score. Both of them perfectly capture the "shocks" of what the film has to offer. For the most part the performances are also good with Elizabeth Berridge making for a good lead and we get some nice support from Sylvia Miles and William Finley.
The film has its issues as I said and this includes the fact that nothing really happens until after the hour mark. I'm sure Hooper and company were wanting to build up the atmosphere as they did but I think they should have thrown in some sort of killing to keep people caught up in what's going on. Also, logically, you have to wonder about really being trapped in such a small space. This here is what really keeps the film from being better but there's still a lot to enjoy here. If you're looking for gore then you're going to be disappointed but THE FUNHOUSE is a nice little monster movie.
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