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DVD Shopping Bag: The Funhouse Blu-ray

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DVD Shopping Bag: The Funhouse Blu-ray

Not so much

By Robert T. Trate     October 16, 2012
Source: Mania.com

The great thing about the Halloween season is that, in September and October, a plethora of Horror titles arrive on DVD and Blu-ray. The Universal Classic Monster Box Set was probably the best Halloween gift we all received (or bought ourselves). Those films are perennial classics and their treatment in the Blu-ray format is nothing short of spectacular. 

Now, as much as love the Universal Horror Classics at Halloween, I do seek out other Horror films, as well. I am always amazed by what I haven’t seen. I educated myself on Horror and dove into the numerous horror sections in the 5 different video stores I worked for. It was here that I discovered the likes of Hellraiser (1-3), where I watched all the Friday the 13th’s in 3 days (well up to Jason Takes Manhattan), and toyed with the weird world of Frankenhooker. Yet, nothing could bring me to watch any of The Faces of Death. It might go without saying, but I was solely going on a box’s cover art and synopsis for my Horror selection. It wasn’t as if, then, I could Google the trailer and make my decision off of that. 

This could be the reason why I never saw Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse (1981). The box featured a Jack-in-the-Box clown. The backside featured a fat lady statue and a girl getting her hair pulled. I failed to see who it was directed by, but since I didn’t really care for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, “Tobe Hooper” wasn’t going to sway me, anyhow. Since Shout! Factory launched their new Horror division titled, “Scream Factory”, I have had the chance to check out what The Funhouse was all about. 

First of all, I don’t remembering seeing a Jack-in-the-Box anywhere in the film. Secondly, what an incredible waste of time. I hate to be so blunt, but when I reached the thirty minute mark, I still had no idea what The Funhouse was about.

After an opening that was clearly stolen from John Carpenter’s Halloween, then spoofed Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, we witness the family dynamic of Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) and Joey Harper (Shawn Carson). The big sister-little brother situation is laid out for us when Amy is so upset by being scared in the shower that she tells Joey she will not take him to the carnival tomorrow. Amy then dries off and heads out on a double date to said carnival with her two friends and Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), a good looking guy who is clearly just interested in getting into her pants. Meanwhile, Joey sneaks out of the house and heads for the carnival anyway. After what seems like forever, Amy’s couple friends, Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Ritchie (Miles Chaplin), finally suggest heading into the funhouse and Ritchie casually suggests they spend the night inside the ride. During all this, we witness Joey making his way across town and into the carnival’s mayhem.

Up to this point, there is no weird disappearance of any character. Nothing crazy or strange about the carnival itself, outside of a set of triplets (all played by Kevin Conway) barking out the typical carny gab. Everything is normal and on the up and up. There is one odd character working the funhouse cars, but nothing out of the ordinary. Up to this point, nothing alarms the audience or any of our characters. So, when they finally do stay in the funhouse and witness a murder, it is just too little too late. 

Hooper may have been trying to do a picture of bizarre and strange family behavior as we learn the funhouse operator is actually a twisted freak of nature. Where he really fails in his storytelling is the revelation of this. First of all, the villain’s mask/ head is half the size of the real head later revealed. So, when it is finally exposed, it looks almost ridiculous. The plot quickly flounders into an escape from the funhouse. The women scream, the men try and figure a way out, and each one drops after the other. By the end, I was left with only one question: How in the hell did Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist come out so well? This is my third or fourth film of his and I have to wonder exactly how much of Poltergeist was saved by producer Steven Spielberg. It was, after all, his story (Spielberg’s). Nothing in any of Hooper’s work tells me the man can tell a story. This film was so unwatchable that it makes the worst episodes of Tales from the Dark Side and Masters of Horror look like Rod Serling’s Twilight Zones

Oh, what happened to little Joey? Nothing. He was safely found by the carnival manager and his parents came and got him. An argument could be made that Amy’s parents were so close and Amy was so very near to her salvation... but no, that would be thinking too deeply about this forgettable piece of fiction.

 

ACTION / ADVENTURE / KUNG FU/ THRILLERS / WESTERNS

Airborne Starring Mark Hamill, Alan Ford, Gemma Atkinson and Julian Glover

Dawn of the Dragon Slayer [Blu-ray/Combo Pack] Starring Richard McWilliams, Nicola Posener and Philip Brodie

Don't Answer The Phone (Katarina's Nightmare Theater) Remastered Edition Starring Nicholas Worth, James Westmoreland

Dragon Eyes Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Cung Le and Peter Weller

Jeremiah Johnson / Mother Lode Starring Robert Redford

H.B. Halicki's Original Gone in 60 Seconds [Blu-ray] Starring H.B. Halicki and Jerry Daugirda

Legendary Amazons Starring Cecilia Cheung, Xiaoqing Liu and Richie Ren

Legendary Amazons [Blu-ray] Starring Cecilia Cheung, Xiaoqing Liu and Richie Ren

Rites of Passage [Blu-ray] Starring Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, Wes Bentley

Rites of Passage Starring Christian Slater, Stephen Dorff, Wes Bentley

Stash House Starring Dolph Lundgren, Sean Faris, Briana Evigan and Jon Huertas

Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li Starring Chris Klein and Neal McDonough

Transit Starring Jim Caviezel, James Frain, Elisabeth Rohm

Tortured, The Starring Erika Christensen and Jesse Metcalfe

ANIME

Casshan: Robot Hunter Casshern Starring Takeshi Kusao

Galaxy Express 999: Eternal Fantasy Starring Masako Nozawa

Ga-Rei-Zero: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Starring Kaoru Mizuhara, Minori Chihara, Chika Horikawa

Idolmaster: Xenoglossia: Collection 1

Someday's Dreamers II Sora: Complete Collection

Tenchi Muyo! Universe Box Set Starring Petrea Burchard, Jennifer Darling and Matthew K. Miller

CARTOONS

Looney Tunes Platinum Collection: Volume Two [Blu-ray]

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy + UltraViolet and Rainbow Wig) Starring Ben Stiller and Jada Pinkett Smith

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted Starring Ben Stiller and Jada Pinkett Smith

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (Three-Disc Blu-ray 3D / Blu-ray / DVD Combo + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) Starring Ben Stiller, Jada Pinkett Smith, Chris Rock

CLASSICS

A Christmas Carol (2012 release) Starring Alastair Sim, Kathleen Harrison, Jack Warner

Letter From an Unknown Woman [Blu-ray] Starring Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan and Mady Christians

Letter From an Unknown Woman Starring Joan Fontaine, Louis Jourdan and Mady Christians

Suddenly Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Pack Starring Sterling Hayden and Frank Sinatra

Super Villains: The Jokers Last Laugh

Tom & Jerry: Blast Off to Mars [Blu-ray] Starring Jeff Bennett, Corey Burton and Brad Garrett

COMEDY AND LOVE Mania Style

Moonrise Kingdom (Two-Disc Combo Pack: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy + UltraViolet) Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis and Bill Murray

Moonrise Kingdom Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis and Bill Murray

Criterion Collection

The Forgiveness of Blood (Criterion Collection) Starring Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej

The Forgiveness of Blood (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray] Starring Refet Abazi, Tristan Halilaj, Sindi Lacej

HORROR

2 Young 2 Die Starring Cassie Daniels, Chris Todd, Jennifer Peo and Freddy Morales

Amicus: House of Horror - A History of England's Groundbreaking Studio of Terror (2-DVD) Starring Geoffrey Bayldon and Peter Cushing

Back From Hell Starring Giovanni Guidelli, Robert Zibetti, Jennifer Mischiati

Chernobyl Diaries (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) Starring Jonathan Sadowski, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal

Chernobyl Diaries (DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy) Starring Jonathan Sadowski, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal and Nathan Philips

Excision [Blu-ray] Starring AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Roger Bart

Excision Starring AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Roger Bart

Final Destination 5 [Blu-ray] Starring Nicholas D'agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher

The Funhouse (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray] Starring Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin

The Funhouse (Collector's Edition) Starring Kevin Conway, Elizabeth Berridge and Shawn Carson

Greystone Park Starring Oliver Stone, Alexander Wraith and Sean Stone

Greystone Park BD Combo [Blu-ray] Starring Oliver Stone, Alexander Wraith and Sean Stone

Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation Starring Andrew Divoff, Jeffrey Combs and Sarah Lieving

Orlok The Vampire in 3D & 2D Starring Max Schreck and Gustav von Wangenheim

Penny Dreadful: THE SPECIAL EDITION Starring Emily Vacchiano, Betsy Palmer, Tina Krause

The Puppet Master Collection Starring Gordon Currie, Paul Le Mat and Guy Rolfe

Terror Train (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray/DVD Combo] Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, Ben Johnson and Hart Bochner

MODERN CLASSICS on BLU-RAY

A League of Their Own [Blu-ray] Starring Tom Hanks

SCIENCE FICTION / FANTASY

Avatar (3D Blu-ray + Blu-ray/ DVD Combo Pack) Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

King Kong / Son of Kong (2012)

Pete's Dragon: 35th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] Starring Mickey Rooney, Jim Dale, Sean Marshall and Helen Reddy

Pete's Dragon: 35th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray] Starring Helen Reddy, Jim Dale, Mickey Rooney and Red Buttons

TV LAND

Alcatraz: The Complete Series Starring Sam Neill, Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia and Jonny Coyne

Alcatraz: The Complete Series [Blu-ray] Starring Jorge Garcia, Sam Neill, Leon Rippy and Jonny Coyne

Big Bad Beetleborgs: Season One, Vol. 1 Starring Wesley Barker, Herbie Baez and Elisabeth Lund

Columbo: The Complete Series Starring Peter Falk

Gunsmoke: The Sixth Season, Vol. 2 Starring Milburn Stone, Dennis Weaver, James Arness and Ken Curtis

Mad Men: Season Five [Blu-ray] Starring John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser

Mad Men: Season Five Starring John Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser

The Office: Secret Santa Pack Starring Rainn Wilson, Steve Carell, John Krasinski and B.J. Novak

Psych: Season Six Starring Dule Hill, Corbin Bernsen, James Roday and Timothy Omundson (2012)

That '70s Show: Season Two [Blu-ray] Starring Topher Grace, Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis

Touch: The Complete First Season Starring Danny Glover, Kiefer Sutherland and David Mazouz

BOX SETS

The Santa Clause 3-Movie Collection [Blu-ray] Starring Tim Allen, Judge Reinhold, David Krumholtz and Eric Lloyd

TCM Greatest Classic Legends: Spencer Tracy (Captains Courageous / Bad Day at Black Rock / Boys Town / Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) Starring Spencer Tracy

TCM Greatest Classic Legends: James Stewart (The Shop Around the Corner / The Stratton Story / The FBI Story / The Spirit of St. Louis) Starring James Stewart

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 2 of 2
1 
Roqueja 10/16/2012 7:26:14 AM

Funhouse was adapted from a novel by Owen West, a pen name of Dean Koontz.  The book wasn't very good either, and the movie wasn't anything like the book.  None of Koontz's books have made a very good movie, although they all have very different and dark premises to work with.  The Servants of Twilight was bad, but had some neat scenes, Watchers was very of it's time, Phantoms had Liev Screiber in a bad-ass role, Hideaway (shudders).  The best adaptation may be the made for tv movie Intensity.  Odd Thomas may change things for the better I hope.

VermithraxPejorative 10/16/2012 6:04:45 PM

Roqueja, here's hoping someone can do Odd Thomas justice with the proper movie and cast. The books kick ass, and the character is fantastic! I read a lot of Koontz, and I agree, so much of his work has been tranished by bad movies. Phantoms wasn't terrible....I have the DVD, but it could have been oh so much better. Koontz's books suffer from the same fate as so much of King's books. They get turned into cheezy movies, though King's work has had a few mre exceptional successes!

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