The Horror Honeys: Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

Saturday Creature Feature with Suzanne!

The Funhouse (1981)

It’s Saturday, my spooky darlings, and that means it’s time to pile into the car, and head on out for some funnel cakes and thrill rides! While we’re there, let’s grab a sexy friend and check out The Funhouse

Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge) is about to go on a first date with local hunk, Buzz Dawson (Cooper Huckabee), to a traveling carnival, along with their irritating stoner friends, Liz and Richie. Amy has some rather strict parents and a super annoying little brother, Joey (Shawn Carson), who is obsessed with horror films and does his best to terrorize his sister.

Things don’t start off well for Amy. She and Buzz have their first fight two minutes into the date, but he uses his charm and brute strength to win her over. As the two couples see the sights and ride the rides, Amy has a few surreal moments with the barkers outside the strip show, freak show, and the funhouse (all played, with creepy perfection, by Kevin Conway). To enhance their evening, Richie decides it would be fun to stow away and spend the night in the funhouse, despite all the missing people this particular carnival left in its wake. Seriously, how is it still in business?

Stop having fun! Carnivals are terrifying! Share your cotton candy!
Outside the funhouse they are greeted by a diminutive figure wearing a Frankenstein’s monster costume. As it turns out, he’s there for more than ushering people to the cars, which our foursome will discover after the lights go out. After the couples pair off to have sex in the filthy funhouse menagerie, they watch through the floor boards as the little Frank tries to get his freak on with Madame Zena (Sylvia Miles). Sadly, he’s a bit premature and flies into a rage, killing the fortune teller. She didn’t see THAT coming.

Hey, you look like my old buddy, Sloth! Want a candy ba... OW STOP BITING ME!
When his father discovers the mess, he begins to torment poor Frankie, who removes his mask to reveal his hideously disfigured, inhuman face. Father and son soon realize they’re being watched and set out to kill the little band of voyeurs.

The Funhouse isn’t director Tobe Hooper’s best movie, but it certainly isn’t his worst. He opens with a super obvious homage to both Halloween and Psycho. If you’ve ever been to a carnival or to a local county fair, you know how overstimulating they can be. That overstimulation is really well represented here, minus the stale popcorn and fried food smell.

Pictured: NOT Elizabeth Berridge.
Elizabeth Berridge makes her film debut here and she’s cute as a bunny, but she spends a good share of the film looking doe-eyed or standing around, mouth agape, looking bewildered and/or screaming.

I actually read the super trashy novelization of the screenplay before seeing the movie. Most people did, being the book was released ahead of the movie due to the production schedule. The book version was written by Owen West, a pseudonym of Dean Koontz, and he took some serious liberties with the story. I will say, the book is a lot more fun. Did I mention it’s super trashy?

Personal Fun Fact ~ I grew up in the Adirondacks near Lake George, NY, a super touristy area during the summers. There you will find the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum. Outside, harassing the summering city folk and Canadians, will be a guy dressed as Frankenstein’s monster. The place itself is a cheesy, walk through funhouse. I went there once on a first date while I was in high school, which is probably around the time I finally saw the film and I will forever link the two. I did not, however, attempt to spend the night. What kind of a girl do you think I am?

Have you visited The Funhouse recently?
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