Tobe Hooper’s “The Funhouse” Is A Dark Ride Of Entertainment

This piece originally ran on MovieFanFare last year, we are reprinting it today as part of our remembrance of Tobe Hooper, who has died at the age of 74.

Tobe Hooper is best known for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Poltergeist. No disrespect to those efforts, but for me his greatest accomplishment will always be The Funhouse. Why? Read on…if you dare!

When a group of fun-loving teens (i.e. the horror equivalent of Star Trek’s red shirted officers) visit a traveling carnival, they spend the night in the titular dark ride and become thrust into danger when they witness a man in a Frankenstein’s Monster costume kill a fortune teller/prostitute. It turns out that the person inside the outfit is the deformed son of a carnie (complete with makeup from the legendary Rick Baker), and the youths try to escape from the attraction with their lives. You can pretty much guess how things go.

Your mileage may vary, but as someone with a real affinity for sideshow and carnival culture, I was endlessly charmed by this flick. (For my money, Gunther edges The Goonies’ Sloth out of the top slot for best deformed character in a 1980s horror film). The Funhouse is a flick that is just as stupid and grisly as you would expect — making it a gloriously entertaining good time for lovers of trash cinema.