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The Funhouse (1981)

 -  Horror  -  13 March 1981 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 7,292 users  
Reviews: 131 user | 114 critic

Four teenage friends spend the night in a carnival funhouse and are stalked by a deformed man in a Frankenstein mask.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Shawn Carson ...
Jeanne Austin ...
...
...
Largo Woodruff ...
Liz
Miles Chapin ...
David Carson ...
Sonia Zomina ...
Ralph Morino ...
Truck Driver (as Ralph Marino)
...
Herb Robins ...
Mona Agar ...
Strip Show Dancer
Wayne Doba ...
...
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Storyline

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. Written by Sean V. Taylor <st52@cornell.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Something is alive in the funhouse...something that, tonight, will turn the funhouse into a carnival of terror! See more »

Genres:

Horror

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Release Date:

13 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Carnival of Terror  »

Filming Locations:


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Technical Specs

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2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The title for the film's Brazilian release is 'Pague para Entrar, Reze para Sair', which translates to the movie's tagline 'Pay to get in, pray to get out'. See more »

Quotes

Funhouse: [discovers that the Monster - who also turns out to be his son - has killed Madame Zena after paying her for sex... because she wouldn't give him a refund] You paid Madame Zena a hundred dollars for this? You crazy fool, I could have gotten you one of them tent-girls for fifteen! Well, you never were much for knowing the value of cash, were you?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The American Nightmare (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
As Nightmares Go, This One's About As Terrifying As It Gets...
5 December 2008 | by (Arlington, VA.) – See all my reviews

Up until THE FUNHOUSE, Tobe Hooper had only come pretty close to recapturing the relentless and ruthlessly nightmarish feel of the classic that catapulted him to fame, THE Texas CHAINSAW MASSACRE. TCM 2 came closer than most of his films, but it traded in psychological terror for buckets of blood 'n' guts, where the first TCM had very little.

THE FUNHOUSE goes back to Hooper's roots, trading in the gore for playing with your nerves like Jimmy Page playing guitar. Traveling carnivals have always had a sinister, menacing undertone to them - that's part of what makes them so attractive - and Hooper, with a smart assist from Larry Block's script, takes that queasy unease and turns it up to '11', so that when the true horror is revealed, it's intensified that much more.

Four friends on a double date (Elizabeth Berridge, Miles Chapin, Cooper Huckabee and Largo Woodruff) decide to hole up in the Funhouse of a traveling carnival just outside of town way past closing time, just for kicks. It's a weird place that gives off a freaky vibe, but they don't come to realize just how freaky, until they see something that puts all of their lives in danger, and realize to their horror that not all the freaks in the show are fake...or at all "fun".

I don't want to spoil the surprises, but as is his habit, Hooper front-loads the movie with some acting vets, including genre favorites William Finley and Sylvia Miles. Plus the great Kevin Conway plays a pivotal role in bringing about the terror and death that the seemingly endless night holds for the trapped teens.

Anyone expecting Hooper and company to just pour on the gore is bound to be disappointed. THE FUNHOUSE is more about empathy and atmosphere...I mean, who HASN'T been through a funhouse like this at some time in their lives? The more you can put yourself in the place of the main characters, the spookier the film will be for you - especially in the third act.

Kudos to everybody for putting in some damn good performances, but especially to Berridge and to Wayne Doba who gives us a monster that is by turns pathetic, disgusting, pitiful and horrifying. And for John Beal, who created a score that plays with your nerves just as powerfully as the visuals do.

This is one of those best viewed alone, with the sound up and all the lights out...And don't worry - if you screech like a little schoolgirl at some parts, it'll be our secret, I promise...(hehheh)


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