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31 Days of Scream-O-Ween! - The Funhouse
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Oct. 14, 2013 5:20 p.m.

By Adam Ruhl
The Funhouse, that accidental video nasty, a 1981 horror
film that only recently seems to be getting the respect it so rightly deserves.
While it begins with tongue in cheek parodies of both Halloween and Psycho,
within its frames it contains so much more. It contains the other unforgettable
performance of Amadeus’ wife Elizabeth Berridge and a tale from the Director
who taught us the value of good, prime meat. So without further ado, come with
me and experience the long lost wonders in Scream Factory’s Collector’s Edition
of Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse.<>
The Funhouse
The Film:<>
Amy (Elizabeth Berrige) visits a Carnival on a double date.
For the first third of the film we follow her and her friends as they act like
typical 80’s teens, doing drugs, humiliating carnival performers, and peeping
on peep shows without paying. Things finally take a turn for the worse when
they peep on a carney dressed as Frankenstein while he pays the aging fortune
teller to sleep with him and then kills her after he finishes prematurely and
she won’t return the money. <>
Frankenstein unmasked is actually a horribly deformed man/monster
named Gunther and Amy and her friends play witness to the monster’s adoptive
father/barker covering up the murder. When they accidently make themselves
known, they are trapped in the funhouse, fighting for their lives against the
monster and his parent. <>
The Funhouse features more of a literal freak show angle,
but has quite a lot of common ground with its director’s earlier film, The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Both of them feature a group of teenagers on a trip
out who stumble across a deformed man and end up fighting for their lives
against him and his murderous family. This film is not quite as graphic, but
has much more visual intrigue; terrifying carnival imagery pops up in every
scene. There’s some real footage of deformed animals on display that can be a
little difficult to watch. <>
The Disc:<>
The Scream Factory cover art is a beautiful illustration by
Nathan Thomas Milliner. It renders the movie as a well-loved old horror comic,
a description I find pretty accurate for this title. The reverse is the
original poster art, a terrifying jack in the box with an ax, a disturbing
image I always found slightly scarier than the film itself. <>
The grain is crisp and the colors of the carnival and early
1980’s outfits really pop. There are some soft focus spots along the way but
they appear just to be camera focus errors and not anything with the transfer.
I have seen that happen with older films and the home video quality wasn’t good
enough to reveal the flaws until Blu-ray.<>
The Features:<>
  • Audio Commentary with Director Tobe Hooper<>
  • The Barker Speaks! – An interview with actor Kevin Conway<>
  • Something Wicked this Way Comes – An All-New Interview with Executive Producer Mark L Lester<>
  • Carnival Music – An Interview with Composer John Beal<>
  • Audio Interview with Actor William Finley<>
  • Deleted Scenes <>
  • TV and Radio spots<>
  • Theatrical Trailer<>
  • The Specs:<>
  • 1080p Hi-Def widescreen 2.35:1<>
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1<>
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0<>
  • English-only Audio & Subtitles<>
  • Original Release: 1981<>
  • Runtime: 96 minutes<>
  • Rated R<>
  • Final Grades:<>
    Story: B- / The first half is all showing off the Carnival
    and the film lags until we meet Frankenstein.<>
    Presentation quality: B+ / Mostly sharp with good
    preservation of detail.<>
    Scare factor: C / Occasional jump but the monster is just a
    static mask.<>
    Gore Factor: C / Very tame for a Tobe Hooper film.<>
    Repeat view-ability: B- / You’ll most likely watch the
    opening scene and then jump to about the 45 minute mark <>
    Special Features: B / A few good interviews and the
    commentary shed a lot of light on what was for me a pretty obscure project.
    Add The Funhouse to your collection, click HERE!
    Check out yesterday's Scream Factory review, The Nest!

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