The Funhouse [Blu-Ray]

Directed by Tobe Hooper

> > Nov 05 2012

The Funhouse [Blu-Ray] - Directed by Tobe Hooper
By Robert BellAmidst the interviews included with this surprisingly comprehensive and cleaned-up Blu-Ray release of throwaway 1981 horror film The Funhouse, actor William Finley and producer Mark L. Lester have an amusing and indirect way of describing director Tobe Hooper, who is better known for Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. He's typically described as open-minded and laidback, which, coupled with some of the interviews included with Poltergeist retrospectives, suggest Hooper basically just did what Spielberg told him to, implying that the man was under the influence for the duration of these productions. This context helps explain a lot about The Funhouse. It's opening scene parodies, or, if we want to use dilettante jargon, "pays homage to," Halloween and Psycho by following a masked boy through his house with a knife, where he attacks his topless sister in the shower. Of course, the knife isn't real and it's all a big joke, presumably much like the movie. Even though this opening sequence suggests self-awareness and genre satire, Hooper is more interested in going the Quentin Tarantino route — only decades earlier — by merely regurgitating his favourite stoner movies without an abundance of insight. Noting Hammer horror, slasher tropes and the monster movie dread of difference, this standard morality parable follows four teenagers on a trip to a low rent carnival where they disobey rules and insult the locals. As a result, they wind up the target of a sexually frustrated mutant (incidentally, dressed up as Frankenstein for the majority of the movie) after they decide to spend the night in the titular funhouse. The main teenager, Amy (Elizabeth Berridge), who shows her boobs in the opening scene, defying the whole Jamie Lee Curtis virgin cliché, demonstrates the most moral ambivalence, having a partial psychic awareness of doom on the horizon, simultaneously feeling bad for disobeying her daddy, which is why she winds up being the "final girl." Interestingly enough, the book that Dean Koontz was commissioned to write — back when writing books based on movies as a marketing tie-in was hot property — went deeper into Amy's psychic abilities, connecting her to her younger brother (a common theme in his cheap fiction) and using the funhouse as real world hyperbole of Christian guilt stemming from her strict upbringing. Since the movie was delayed, the book actually came out first and was quite successful, leading people to think that the film was merely a crappy interpretation of a (slightly) superior novel. The politics involved are discussed on the supplemental materials included with this Blu-Ray, as was the inflated budget given after production was announced when Universal jumped on board, clearly influenced by the successes of Chainsaw and Halloween.
(Shout! Factory)
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