Wednesday, October 22, 2008

31 Days Of Horror. Day #12: The Funhouse

(This review has been repurposed to make benefit of glorious Final Girl Film Club. All hail brutal head of state Stacie Ponder)

I'm not mad at Tobe Hooper just disapointed. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is possibly the scariest movie ever made. It’s almost a quantum leap beyond any other in the genre. It’s a singular and masterful experience and I can’t help but wish the director behind it wasn’t such a one hit wonder. Sure Poltergeist is great, but we all know that Hooper was just a front on that one, my affection for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre II is well documented (The Aero is playing for their all night horror film festival and I cannot wait), the only other Hooper film worth half a damn is Lifeforce, which coasts by with an ungodly amount of nudity and camp.

Not exactly the formula for a winning career.

But there was one other Hooper film I’ve always been interested in seeing, and after receiving and an email after my TCM2 review my interest was furthered. I mean come on, Creepy ass carnival? Albino serial killer who wears a Frankenstein mask? A whole bunch of animatronics? No way this thing wouldn’t at least be entertaining.

Unfortunately for me Hooper FOUND a way to make it unentertaining. Congrats buddy keep reaching for the stars.

The film gets off to a great start with a fantastic credits sequence that consists of disturbing animatronics acting out the same repetitive motions again and again. Unfortunately for me this wasn’t merely a disturbing motif, but the blueprint that Hooper built his movie on.

Things pretty much go to shit the moment the film starts. Opening with a bizarrely protracted Halloween like POV from a little boy as he selects a knife and mask. The scene dances over the lines separating Parody, Homage, and Ripoff pretty freely. But eventually the “killer” goes into the bathroom where he rips open the curtain on his naked sister and starts smacking her with a giant fake phallic knife, while he photographs it. Ho-Ho!

I mean come on we’ve all been there right? The weird thing is the film plays the scene like it’s just cute kid shit, instead of you know, seriously disturbed behavior. Eventually the sister manages to stop wondering what the fuck is wrong with her brother long enough to get dressed and meet her grease monkey boyfriend and his two fodder, I mean friends to go out for a fun night at The Carnival that has pulled into town, having been chased out of the last one for murdering a couple of children.

No I’m fucking serious, they keep talking about how all these kids bodies where found in the carnival in the last town it was in, and nobody gives a fuck. They’re so nonchalant about it that you think they where debating the quality of the fried dough.

Anyway the group walks around The Carnival for a long long time. No seriously, a really really really long long time. Causing me to adopt a Milhouse like whine and ask “When are they gonna get to the fireworks factory?” The other thing is the carnival is just bad. Not like ooh scary Something Wicked This Way Comes bad, but bad bad. If you bought a ticket to this carnival you would demand my money back. And I swear to God by the end of the film it will feel like you have seen every damn inch of the place. Imagine how tedious something like Last House On The Left would be if it just followed a couple girls out to a rock concert, with no hint of the fact that some crazed hippies would eventually come and kill them.

Eventually the four decide they love the terrible carnival so much that they want to spend the night there, so they hide in the Funhouse. Deformed Albino comes as do some of the most telegraphed "scares" I have ever fucking seen. You know the rest of the story. But I swear to God by the time it happens you won’t care.

The movie basically boils down to a few unpleasant people and one seriously disturbing kid bumbling around a terrible Carnival for awhile. If that sounds like your cup of tea, enjoy.


Lazarus Lupin said...

The saddest thing about tobe's career was he was one of the rube's picked to do an episode of "Masters of Horror." I mean he probably had to do some PR stuff with the other guys and how many "Lifeforce" jokes can you take?

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

deadlydolls said...

Aw Bryce, we differ on this one. As a kid, I casually liked The Funhosue but never thought it was anything special. This go around though, when I sat quietly with an eye and ear to write about the film, I somehow fell in love. It's not a GREAT horror by any means, but the buildup really worked for me this go around. My biggest complaint is that the final payoff feels too rushed in comparison to the steady sleazy eeriness being developed that first hour.

Ah well, different strokes again!

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Lazarus: Indeed.

@ Emily: Oh well Em, it just makes the times we do agree all the sweeter! : )