This film has a significant number of elements and opportunities to inspire terror. The dolls, clowns and other objects that cover the set take care of the atmosphere, rendering it as macabre as can be. However, this is where their mandate stops. By combining a slasher flick with monsters, The Funhouse doesn’t leave any room for ghosts: the giant puppets are there to surprise us via purely electronic mechanisms. When the gypsy is murdered at the beginning, we are shown a slight impression of supernatural events, as if her spirit was transferred into them. However, that is not the case. This slight deception helps avoid the cliché we are accustomed to in horror dramas.
The introduction never seems to end and the four main characters don’t help a bit. They are neither compatible nor interesting. These two aspects are the film’s main weaknesses. However, when The Funhouse moves along to better things, it succeeds in captivating your whole attention. It avoids the usual routine and rhythm by killing off a character prematurely and talking about a monster’s ejaculatory problems. The monster in question is a bizarre character. Ashamed of his hideous appearance, he wears a Frankenstein disguise and moves around in an odd fashion, even in broad daylight.
Sadly, after a third of the film, he removes his mask and shows us his head (which would have been impossible to fit under that mask). By revealing this mystery, he kills of any interest we could have had in him. Finally, the heroin’s brother doesn’t do much except being a pretext for a few turnarounds. In fact, he’s only one of those kids who know how to survive a horror film better than adults.
During the preface, a child spies on his sister in the shower, masked. The perspective is identical to the one used in Halloween when Michael committed his first murder. The masks silhouette is even present for the show! The shower scene doesn’t help but resemble Psycho. The similarities are so obvious that it fails as if an amateur wrote it. This reproach will be made to director Tobe Hooper on a few other occasions during his career.
First and foremost, The Funhouse succeeds in distinguishing itself from typical slasher films thanks to its decors and by incorporating subtle elements from other horror sub-categories.