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23 user 7 critic

Funland (1987)

PG-13 | | Comedy, Crime | 16 October 1987 (USA)
When a mob family takes over an amusement park after the owner dies under mysterious circumstances, the recently-fired clown mascot seeks vengeance for the loss of his job.

Director:

Michael A. Simpson

Writers:

Michael A. Simpson (screenplay), Bonnie Turner (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
William Windom ... Angus Perry
David L. Lander ... Bruce Burger
Bruce Mahler ... Mike Spencer
Robert Sacchi ... Mario DiMauro / Bogie
Clark Brandon ... Doug Sutterfield
Jill Carroll ... Denise Wilson
Michael McManus ... T. G. Hurley (as Mike McManus)
Mary Beth McDonough ... Kristin Cumming (as Mary McDonough)
Terry Beaver Terry Beaver ... Carl DiMauro
Lane Davies ... Chad Peller
Richard Reiner Richard Reiner ... Larry DiMauro
Bonnie Turner Bonnie Turner ... Darlene Dorkner
Jan Hooks ... Shelly Willingham
Randal Patrick Randal Patrick ... Chip Cox
Gene Murrell Gene Murrell ... Randy Grossman
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Storyline

Funland is about to open for the new season, and we follow several employees through the rituals of opening the park for the season. Owner Angus Perry refuses to sell the land to a shady development company. A few days later, he's found dead, and the company, headed by Maurio DeMauro, buys up his shares. Concerned only for the profit margin, they start to cut costs and install less family-oriented rides. No one is more upset by this than clown mascot Bruce Burger. Once park accountant Neil Stickney, and one of the founder of the park, he suffered a nervous breakdown, and was kept on by Perry out of pity, he has started to believe he really IS Bruce Burger, and considers himself and Stickney separate people. When a prima donna named Chad Peller is hired to replace him, Burger starts to lose his tenuous grip on reality. He is soon visited by Perry's ghost, who tells him he was murdered. Enraged, Burger plots to take down the park, but decides to first get rid of his replacement... Written by Kyle Palkowski

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Welcome to the abusement park. See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Filmed at Six Flags Over Georgia in Atlanta. See more »

Quotes

Bogie: That was back in the 40s when a guy could shoot a few people and make a difference in the world.
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Connections

References The Godfather (1972) See more »

Soundtracks

Mr. Clown
Written by Tim Miller
Performed by Tim Miller
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User Reviews

 
From an era that can be only replicated, never duplicated
22 September 2014 | by StevePulaskiSee all my reviews

As disorganized, bewildering, and downright strange as Michael A. Simpson's Funland is, to say I didn't enjoy it at all would be a blatant lie. To say I don't admire or appreciate the culture or saga of films it belongs to would be another hurtful jab at the very era I have grown to love and provide ample amounts of respect to over the years. That specific era is the eighties horror film era, where popular slasher films like Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, immensely successful films financially that were made on a shoestring budget, proved to ambitious writers/directors that you didn't need to have millions of dollars and studio connections to make and release a film (the original Friday the 13th had an unmissable advertisement in a magazine before a script was even written).

Because of this new trend, directors and writers were racing to a neverending finish line to make their own slasher films, which is why there are so many unsung gems (and duds) that still haven't gotten their recognition. Many of these films achieved a cult following and, if one were to peruse a catalog or one of the many websites dedicated to the preservation and admiration of such films, they could find these kinds of films quite easily. It's films like Funland that you need to dig deeper for; the kind of quirky, unabashedly ridiculous, low-key effort that you almost can't believe passed the script stages. Whether or not the film was released in theaters is a mystery to me, but if it was, this may indeed be the most forgotten American horror film to ever grace the silver screen.

The film focuses on the titular amusement park, which is owned by the goofy Angus Perry (William Windom). The amusement park is a sore for sight eyes, as the employees are bored and uninterested in their positions, the rides have an unsafe look to them, and the entire environment reeks of cheesiness and sleaze. However, the most dedicated member of Funland appears to be Niel Stickney (David L. Lander), who plays "Bruce Burger," the clown mascot of the park, who is draped with a slice of pizza. Neil has played Bruce for so long that he no longer wants to be called "Neil," nor have his checks made out to him in that name. This all adheres to his grip on reality, which is becoming looser and looser as time goes on.

The back-breaking straw is when Angus dies under circumstances almost too unbelievable, and the park becomes overtaken by a mob family, who oversee a great deal of changes to the park, one of which is getting rid of the park's signature clown character in favor of the corporate mascot. Angus always defended the relevancy of Neil and the character he passionately plays, but now that he's gone, the mob ousts him at once. The mob's pawn is the park's careless manager Mike Spencer (the great Bruce Mahler), who agrees to let Neil go, leading Neil to buy a rifle and take revenge on the park that has let go of him.

Despite a great deal of lovable cheesiness, stemming from everything from the acting to the production quality (the opening titles have a strange fuzziness to them, as well as the catchy opening music being a bit louder than normal), Funland's biggest misstep is that it's a horror film that never realizes it's a horror film. It toys with genres of dark comedy, action, and mystery, and occasionally masquerades as a horror film with suspense and unpredictability within its tone, but never does the film forgo its numerous other genres to work as what it should be trying to achieve. Most of the film, however, operates with a wonderful sense of blackness to its comedy, which works wonderfully, especially in the first half hour, when we're getting acquainted with this demented Funland Amusement Park. During this time, humor flows in unrestricted free-form, while characters say and do the most outlandish things possible, with humor arousing from almost every circumstance.

With this, I was kind of disappointed to realize that Funland doesn't keep up this sense of dark humor all the way through, and instead goes for a more potboiling thriller in the weakest sense towards the end, while only emphasizing a small element of the blackness in the meantime. However, during the first half hour there's a certain hilarity that almost can't be replicated, as it's a hilarity that exists because of our unfamiliarity with this crazy world. Indeed, the film exists in a world of its own, and for that, operates as one of the most humble and ridiculous films of the 1980's I have yet to see.

Starring: David L. Lander, William Windom, and Bruce Mahler. Directed by: Michael A. Simpson.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

16 October 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Funland See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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