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Monday, June 10, 2013

The Funhouse (1981)

When director Tobe Hooper makes a movie, I always stand up and pay attention.  Films Like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Poltergeist (1982) show a director who is a master at his craft.  Sadly, The Funhouse is not quite up to my expectations of Hooper.

Let's start with the good stuff.  In a year where a plethora of bad slasher flicks abounded, The Funhouse is not one of them.  It's got a decent script and Hooper's direction is far above and beyond the rest of the pack.

It's also got a fun, deformed monster courtesy of Rick Baker.  While it's not as terrifying as some of his other creations, it's very well done for the time period and is both intriguing and a little gross.  It works well in the film.

The big negative for me is in terms of pacing.  The story begins with four crazy kids who decide to spend the night in The Funhouse at a local carnival.  Hooper spends WAY too much time setting things up.  We get introduced to the characters right away and then we watch them running around the carnival for about half an hour.  Why?  I'm not sure.  

Perhaps they were trying to build sympathy for the characters but Elizabeth Berridge is no Jamie Lee Curtis [Halloween].  Playing the role of "survivor girl," I found her more annoying than heroic.  She lacks all the qualities that made Curtis so great.  Ugh!  They simply needed to move into the meat of the story MUCH earlier.  There's a lot of material to work with that they simply don't take advantage of.  For instance, a bit of backstory on the Monster would have been great.  What was he like when he was growing up?  How did he end up where he is now?  I think you get my point.

If you're a fan of Hooper, you definitely need to see this film.  But I consider it to be one of his weakest films.  If you don't know anything about Hooper then start with the other movies I mentioned above.

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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