Tobe Hooper’s “The Funhouse” failed to make the impact his earlier “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” did on horror audiences, but still delivered a few solid shocks for viewers in 1981. Much like “Chainsaw,” it consists of twisted characters and fun-loving youngsters being brutalized by them. However, this time around carnival workers get a bad rap versus backwoods rednecks like in Hooper’s 1974 spine-chiller. Seeing “The Funhouse” now on Blu-ray doesn’t quite deliver the same jarring surprises it did thirty years ago. The horror genre has seen it all since then.
Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) goes against her father’s (Jack McDermott) orders and accompanies high school rebel Buzz (Cooper Huckabee) and her two friends (Largo Woodruff and Miles Chapin) to a traveling carnival. Two kids were murdered the last time it was in town. On a dare, the four teens decide to stay overnight in the carnival’s funhouse. They soon find themselves trying to stay alive as they are chased through the locked up ride by a psychotic mutated killer (Wayne Doba).
It’s interesting how a low-budget movie like “The Funhouse” can get visually cleaned up while still hanging on to the grimy atmosphere it had in 1981. The high definition transfer gives the movie a new lease on life. Fans of the film don’t need to worry that the Blu-ray version takes something away from it. It’s still grotesque and disturbing. However you can see it all unfold in front of you better. It’s sort of like wiping mud off your glasses to see the size of the mud hole you fell in.
Shout! Factory delivers plenty of excellent special features with this Blu-ray release. They include audio commentary with Director Tobe Hooper. It’s moderated by filmmaker Tim Sullivan. There’s an interview with Executive Producer Mark L. Lester and Composer John Beal. An audio interview with actor William Finley is included as well. A theatrical trailer, TV spots, and more round out the bonus material.
While “The Funhouse” might not be as shocking as it was thirty years ago, it still provides some nice scares and creepy deviants that will make your skin crawl. Shout! Factory once again delivers a solid high definition edition of this cult classic for its fans to enjoy. A great picture and plenty of fun extra features make this a recommended purchase.
For more articles by Eric Shirey, check out:
Blu-ray Review: “Terror Train”
Blu-ray Review: “Halloween II: Collector’s Edition”
Blu-ray Review: “Halloween III: Season of the Witch”