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The Funhouse (1981) Review

The Funhouse is a 1981 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and written by Larry Block and Dean Koontz. It stars Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Shawn Carson, and Largo Woodruff. The film follows a group of friends who visit a carnival and decide to spend the night in the funhouse, only to find themselves being stalked by a deformed man.

This is one of Tobe Hooper’s movies, yeah some think he’s great, some… Don’t. Regardless of the man’s career, this flick is genuinely quite scary 30 years on from it’s original release. It is showing it’s age, there’s no denying that but it still manages to pack a punch when it comes the scares/creepiness factor.

The main ‘monster’ is a deformed human in this movie and it’s incredibly well designed. Creepy, gross, hideous, gruesome i could easy run out of adjectives to describe it, it’s striking and it definitely makes the movie.

Even though i wouldn’t describe The Funhouse as being a straight slasher movie it does have that early 80’s slasher feel to it. I guess this is a symptom of it’s time (when slashers were arguably at their peak) and Tobe Hooper’s directing style. There’s not a lot of blood in The Funhouse, it’s more a psychologically orientated horror using shadows and evil forms to try scare us out of our wits. It works, though not as well as some other movies of it’s time.

Sadly, like what is so common in a lot of slasher flicks, it’s characters are pretty hum drum – boring, even though the acting quality is acceptable. The characters that stick out the most are the carnival folks IE: bad guys. Kevin Conway puts in a stellar performance as the monsters friend/father/master. His performance is both convincing and devious, just the way an antagonist should be.

The Funhouse is due for a Bluray release soon through Arrow in the UK. Whilst no details have surfaced yet about a North American release i imagine there’ll be a version over there soon enough. I haven’t seen the new HD transfer (standard DVD here) but i have confidence in Arrow’s ability to produce a quality transfer, so if you are thinking of buying best to hold on for that. The new transfer will also be on DVD.

To conclude The Funhouse may not be a classic but it sure is one 80’s flick that any horror devotee should make a point of seeing. Get the beer in and enjoy!

The Funhouse is a well-crafted and suspenseful horror film that is sure to send chills down your spine. The acting is quite good, particularly from Elizabeth Berridge, and the film’s atmosphere is creepy and foreboding. The funhouse itself is a great setting for a horror film, and the film makes good use of its limited location. The creature design is also excellent, and the film’s ending is both shocking and satisfying. Overall, The Funhouse is a great horror film that is sure to please fans of the genre.


The Funhouse is a 1981 American horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and starring Elizabeth Berridge, Cooper Huckabee, Shawn Carson, and Miles Chapin. It was written by Larry Block and produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment.

The film centers on a group of teenagers who visit a local carnival’s funhouse and are stalked by a deformed man in a clown costume.

The film was released on June 12, 1981, and grossed $12 million at the box office. It received mixed reviews from critics.

The film opens with a group of teenagers, Amy Harper (Elizabeth Berridge), her boyfriend Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), and their friends Liz (Shawn Carson) and Richie (Miles Chapin), visiting a carnival. They decide to go into the funhouse, which is being operated by a deformed man in a clown costume (Jackie Earle Haley).

The clown begins to stalk the teenagers and, one by one, they are killed. Amy is the only one who seems to be aware of the danger and tries to warn her friends, but they don’t believe her.

Eventually, only Amy and Buzz are left alive. They manage to kill the clown and escape the funhouse.

The film ends with Amy and Buzz walking away from the carnival, hand in hand.

Movie Details

Director: Tobe Hooper
Writer: Larry Block
Actors: Elizabeth Berridge, Jack McDermott, Cooper Huckabee, Largo Woodruff
Release Year: 1981