Sunday, November 25, 2012
THE FUNHOUSE (1981)
Directed By: Tobe Hopper
Written By: Lawrence Block
Cinematography By: Andrew Laszlo
Editor: Jack Hofstra
Cast: Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff, Miles Chapin, Kevin Conway, William Finley, Sylvia Miles
Two young couples on a double date go to a mysterious carnival. As a prank they decide to spend the night in the funhouse. When they witness a brutal murder, they suddenly find themselves in horrific danger.
I can’t really explain why it took me so long to watch this film, Probably because I kept getting it confused with the Victor Salva film PAPERHOUSE. I am shocked as I never knew it was directed by Tobe Hooper. I can’t exactly call myself a total fan of Hooper’s work but TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is one of my favorite horror films as I do enjoy EATEN ALIVE as well as some of his other films.
His films later in life have not been my cup of tea as they have mainly been disappointing they are ok but considering the talent behind the camera they should be considerably better than just ok. This is another case like I have said of Ridley Scott in the past of a director who seems to be riding on his early success and hasn’t really done spirited or outstanding work recently. While I will always respect him and the films he has brought forth. It would be nice for him to have another breakthrough now. I don’t know if it’s the material he is offered and picks the best of the what he is given or If like John Carpenter has recently admitted his heart isn’t in it anymore.
The opening sequence is an homage to both Psycho and Halloween.
While the film doesn't really hold a candle to the masterpiece that is TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. This film by the same director Tobe Hooper get's that kind of sleazy dreadful horror. This film takes a while to get going but when it does it is thrilling more than anything. It packs on the scares that might seem old and tired by now, but when it came out filled the formula very well. This film strangely seems more like Tobe Hopper's version of a commercial horror film coming after massacre as this seems to have more classic elements such as scares, Nudity, a score. not a slasher, but a tried and true monster. That seems to mean well but is a victim of it's nature rather than a provider to a disgraced clan.
The thing Mr. Hooper does well with most of his films is that he know how to build and use atmosphere. Here it truly adds to a film that could have been quickly forgotten it's no great classic, but a fun look at horror the way it used to be done and was more creative. While it's far from the best or even great. it's passable and more nostalgic then anything.
The mask worn by one of the creatures in The Funhouse was a Frankenstein mask. Hooper said that this was selected because the Universal Studios owned the image copyright for it from their Frankenstein horror film classic.
Director Tobe Hooper wanted Andrew Laszlo for his cinematographer on this show because he liked Laszlo's lighting of Walter Hill's The WARRIORS.
It was director Tobe Hooper's idea to shoot the film in anamorphic Panavision.
The films strength is also that it is simple, not ironic, not overdrawn with a back-story or mythology. What you see is what you get plain and simple. the film does have a dour depressing feel about it as you watch it. As some of the supporting characters are just as scary if not scarier than the actual monster. This is when it's good to get regional character actors that help fill in the blanks of the story as those characters seem more scary and crazed as they know better. Where as the monster does not.
Steven Spielberg asked Tobe Hooper to direct E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial but he turned it down because he was busy on this movie. However Hooper and Spielberg would work together on Poltergeist.
Director Tobe Hooper made this film between his other horror movies Salem's Lot and Poltergeist.
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