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Shaun vs. The Funhouse (1981)

fun1Directed by Tobe Hooper

Starring Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Jeanne Austin and Kevin Conway

Four teens foolishly decide to stay the night at a carnival funhouse only to run afoul of the carnival barker (Conway) who sics his sideshow freak son on them.



 

 

Pay to get in. Pray to get out.

After an introductory homage/ripoff of the original Halloween where Amy is attacked by her bratty brother Joey in the shower, she is picked up by her date, Buzz, and they pick up a pair of mutual friends and hoof it to the carnival that has come to town.  Joey, punished for what he did to Amy, escapes his room and takes off for the carnival himself.  Everything is fine and dandy until just as the carnival is closing, Buzz’s friend Richie comes up with the brilliant idea to spend the night in the Funhouse, a haunted house style of ride that I’m amazed a bunch of carnies put together.  No one balks at the idea so they stay the night…as does Joey.

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The kids walk around until they spy one of the carnies wearing a Frankenstein mask trying to get it on the with old fortune telling lady.  After he dips into the money box, she gives it up only for him to give it up ten seconds later.  In a fit of rage, the carny straight up kills the fortune teller as the kids watch on.  They sneak into the room to try to escape but the carnival barker shows up to investigate what happened.  He gets angry at the carny when he finds the money box empty; Richie had emptied it out while they were in the room.  Richie accidentally drops his lighter where the barker finds it and he orders the carny to go find the thieves that took his money.  The carny removes his mask to reveal a red-eyed, white-haired freak of nature who traps them inside the ride and hunts them down in grisly ways.

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Is that real?

Oh those teens love spending the night in weird places. The carnival and especially the funhouse offer up a creepy, uneasy vibe at times and you never know what’s going to jump out.  Killer freak aside, The Funhouse is your typical 80s slasher flick where the kids get knocked off one by one until it’s down to a one-on-one confrontation between the virgin and the monster.  The film provides a decent amount of blood and whole lotta T&A to cover all the bases and comes off being one of the better slashers that were cranked out around this time thanks to the setting and unique killer.

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Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal!

TL;DR

Story: 6 – Typical slasher where kids spend the night somewhere dark and scary.  Like a funhouse!

Blood: 6 – Definitely not as bloody as other films of the era, quite a bit of the violence is done off screen.

Nudity: 7 – Berridge goes topless in the opening shower scene, there are a few make out scenes with brief nudity and there’s a whole tent full of carny women wearing thongs and pasties.

Overall: 6 – It’s not the cream of the crop, but it’s a competently made slasher that provides a few chills.

Trivia

-Steven Spielberg asked director Tobe Hooper to direct ET but Hooper was busy on this film.  They later collaborated together on Poltergeist.

-Actor Kevin Conway plays three separate roles, all different carnival barkers.

 

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