Category Archives: tobe hooper

The Funhouse

The Funhouse ~ Okay, confession time. You might not believe me, but I never really got to go to the movie theater all that much until maybe the senior year of high school. There was none of that stuff or hanging out at the mall until I had friends old enough to drive. Oh, sure, I’d been to the drive-in once or twice to see kids movies, and my cool big sister and her husband took me to see Star Wars when it was out, but no real movies until 1980. That’s when my friend Bobby started driving. And the first movie I got to see was The Funhouse.

I know, fifteen years old and I started big, trying to catch up for lost time. Not only a Tobe Hooper horror film, but R rated with nudity in the first few minutes. I remember my father was angry when he found out, but it was worth it. It was the beginning of a love affair with going to the movies that still enthralls me.

I recently had a chance to see The Funhouse again on HBO. It’s not a great movie but it is a good horror flick that still holds up well after three decades. There is a charm about it missing from horror movies now, an innocence, a naïveté. Today we live in the Scream era where everything is referential and meta. I think it was better back then. That said the film begins with a sly homage to both Halloween and Psycho. I still like it.

The story has two couples on a double date to the carnival. They decide to hide out in the funhouse to stay overnight for a romantic interlude. While there, they witness a murder and more, and end up hunted by the carnival barker’s deformed and monstrous son. Hilarity ensues. There are some genuine scares and the drooling monster is scary and disgusting.

The only real standout from the cast is the carnival barker, played by Kevin Conway, who was Dr. Haber in one of my favorite PBS productions, “The Lathe of Heaven.” Here, he is a more obvious and grounded kind of sinister, but still a terrific actor. And of course, no matter how you cut it, this is still a Tobe Hooper film.

A slice of the good old days of slasher flicks, still worth seeing after thirty years or so. The one that started it all (for me at least), The Funhouse, check it out.