A group of rebellious teenagers sneak onto a Funhouse at the local fair. They then witness a murder by a monstrous creature. The funhouse owner named Conrad unleashes this monster (his son) on the teens. Now they’re on the run and must escape the not-so-funhouse!
I had to do a Tobe Hooper movie in respect to the legend passing away in August. Hooper was an icon in horror films, bringing us The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Poltergeist and the Invaders From Mars remake (which I love). I consider Tobe Hooper responsible for starting the “bronze age” of horror with Chainsaw Massacre. It led the way for my favorite era of horror films and it scared the crap out of everyone. Without Hooper, movies like Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, Child’s Play and even Alien; may have not had a ground to stand on.
The Funhouse is a cliche 80s slasher film that pits the youthful spirit against some form of evil. Just like Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween and Friday the 13th. So yea, it was kind of filling a trend that was happening at that time. Although it is classified as “slasher” I think this movie adds a good and memorable monster in the mix. A monster named Gunther Twibunt. Twibunt, that name bleeds death metal band all over it.
After Gunther murders a prostitute. Conrad realizes the teens are in the funhouse. Not wanting the teens to escape, Conrad sends Gunther after them. Now, up until this point Gunther is wearing a Frankenstein mask so you don’t see under the mask for a while. You finally do see his face and it’s so over the top and awesome. He’s this humanoid monster that has a messed up terrible cleft palate vampire kind of face. His face is one even a mother would be scared of. I remember seeing this movie when I was a young kid and Gunther scared the crap out of me. Literally, I pooped myself. It was a mess and I had nightmares with Gunther in them all the time! Where does this Gunther come from and how come he’s working at a carnival? How does a parent have a child and feel fine with their kids face looking this way? There’s got to be a logical explanation to this guy. Wait, yes… I think, I think I know. Yes, my gosh. I am a genius!
The Goonsters Funhouse Theory
Maybe Sloth from The Goonies and Gunther from The Funhouse are brothers! Maybe Agatha Mama Fratelli and Conrad Straker were past lovers. Maybe Mama from another past marriage, had her two sons Francis & Jake. But Jake couldn’t accept his mothers new lover Conrad and he left town. In this time Jake would live a life of crime. Eventually end up in the Astoria county prison on three counts of counterfeit! Mama and Conrad need to fill the void. So they mated for two long weeks hoping for a child. Soon Mama Fratelli gives birth to twins. But good things die young don’t they? The love that was once Mamas and Conrads isn’t the same. One desires the thrills of carnival life while the other dreams of owning a hotel in the upper western state of Oregon. So Mama takes baby Sloth and Conrad takes baby Gunther. He see’s great potential in Gunther taking a lead role in the Freakshow act as Vampire Boy! The babies grow up apart, one is evil and the other is loving and soft and loves Rocky Road ice cream. However both live without the love of their parent due to their hideous nature. Also they live never actually knowing that the other exists or who their other parent is.
It’s a more beautiful “Parent Trap” film without the weird yellow Lindsay Lohan teeth and depressing visions of a terrible drug induced future for a kid actor. BUT MAN, This should have been a movie! This would have been the ultimate connection between the two films. The Funhouse and The Goonies. Maybe do a Sloth Vs Gunther kind of thing where the two meet face to face. After Gunther kills Chunk in a Truffle Shuffle battle. Sloth is enraged and they both fight. Sloth fights for the love and affection of the Goonsters! Dang, this is cinematic gold! Twenty bucks this would have been better than Predator Vs Alien or Freddy Vs Jason.
Anyways, enough of my awesome insight into things. The Funhouse is a good film, it’s not ground breaking like Hoopers past Chainsaw Massacre films. But it is a gory good time and it is pretty creepy. I love the atmosphere of the carnival. The freak animals, creepy magic show and fraudulent palm reader. Hooper makes the settings seem deep and real. The funhouse sets an eerie tone to the film and much like Chainsaw Massacre, there’s a gritty quality to everything one should appreciate.
The best scene is when the girl Amy can see her parents outside the funhouse through a circular fan. She’s screaming her head off but the fan is muffling her voice. Her parents drive away and she fails to get help.
The Funhouse is a scary film that will live as a great reminder of who Tobe Hooper was as a horror icon. I think touching on our fears and speculations of carny people (I can say carny people because my uncle was once one) is why it works so well. Let’s be honest, I think some or most of us go to a carnival and often wonder if these people have a monster in the back shadows of a ride. We’re probably right and this movie will make you think twice about going into a funhouse ever again. I bet carnies hate this movie, kind of like how clowns hate IT.
Keep The Funhouse in your catalog of awesome 80’s horror films.