31 Days of Slashers: The Funhouse (1981)

The twenty-sixth entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series is Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse (1981), also known as Carnival of Terror. Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) is a rather rebellious young woman. She defies her parents by sneaking out of the house to meet up with friends at the traveling carnival that is in town. The teens have a fun night at the carnival, but when Richie (Miles Chapin) dares the teens to spend the night in the creepy funhouse, terror inevitably takes over. As her friends start disappearing and dying in mysterious and violent ways, Amy must battle whatever monster is hidden in the funhouse. Will she be able to survive?

The main draw for The Funhouse is its direction by iconic horror filmmaker Tobe Hooper. Regardless of whatever film of his that you’re watching, it is guaranteed to be well-executed and full of his creepy signature touches. The Funhouse is no different. While the narrative may be rather simple, that only allows for the aesthetic and production design of the film to add even more to the viewing experience. Hooper is most well-known for his films The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Poltergeist (1982), but he has dabbled in many sub-genres within the horror genre, ranging from possession to creature feature to vampire films. The late director was genuinely a master of the genre and he is greatly missed.

Another element of the film that I really love is the carnival setting. Hooper clearly relishes the small details in the set design for the film. The carnival is brought to life through colorful sets and lively carnival workers. The titular funhouse itself features one creepy room after another and allows for very engaging camera setups that show us the dark corners where evil might be lurking. Hooper also utilizes a really distinct design for the murderous creature that lives in the funhouse. The practical makeup effects in the film are very impressive.

The performances in the film are also pretty solid, as Elizabeth Berridge’s Amy proves to be a very effective Final Girl figure. The remainder of the cast delivers decent performances as her friends. Wayne Doba does a nice job at portraying manic bloodlust as the monster. The many actors that portray the carnival workers also give very entertaining performances that bring life to the carnival setting.

Through its great use of setting, its fantastic practical makeup effects, and its excellent direction from Tobe Hooper, The Funhouse proves a worthy addition to your Halloween watchlist this spooky season.

The Funhouse is currently streaming with membership on the Peacock app. It can also be rented from Amazon, DirecTV, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube. The Shout! Factory blu-ray can be purchased HERE.

I will be back tomorrow with another entry in the 31 Days of Slashers series!

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