The Funhouse

The Funhouse (1981)
Goodtimes Home Video
Cast: Cooper Huckabee, Elizabeth Berridge, Miles Chapin, Largo Woodruff
Extras: Production Notes

This has been a good month for Tobe Hooper on DVD. His mini-series ’Salem’s Lot’ was just released, as was ’The Funhouse’ which Hooper made just before shooting ’Poltergeist.’ ’The Funhouse’ is an attempt to mix the 80’s slasher craze with Hooper’s trademark rural weirdos. The result is a mixed bag. The film takes its time telling the story and the plot (four teenagers spending the night in a carnival funhouse) doesn’t show up until 35 minutes into the movie, and nothing significant happens until almost the one hour mark. But, once the action starts, Hooper doesn’t let up. Some may be put off by the bizarre killer and the general nastiness of most of the characters, but this show’s Hooper’s uncanny talent of making an audience squirm by simply showing people doing slightly odd things.

’The Funhouse’ is presented in a letterboxed format at 2.35:1. The framing appears accurate and there is no warping of the frame (which is good, as this film is nearly impossible to watch in a pan-&-scan format). The picture is clear, but dark at times. (We learn from the Production Notes that Hooper shot some of the interiors using only flashlights.) While there is a lot of surround sound action from the 2-channel mix, the sound is uneven, going from loud to soft without warning. With this disc going from under $15 most places, this is a nice treat for Tobe Hooper fans.