This Day in Horror History: Tobe Hooper’s Underrated Masterpiece THE FUNHOUSE Was Released in 1981
The name Tobe Hooper is synonymous with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but the writer/director’s filmography is vast: In addition to unleashing the horror icon Leatherface upon the masses, Hooper is responsible for Eaten Alive, Salem’s Lot, Poltergeist, Lifeforce, Freddy’s Nightmares (TV Series), The Mangler, The Toolbox Murders, and many other. But one of his best offerings is also extremely underappreciated; I’m talking about The Funhouse, released on this date in 1981.
If it’s been a while, or if you’ve never experienced the terror of The Funhouse for yourself, check out the synopsis and trailer below.
Rebellious teen Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) defies her parents by going to a trashy carnival that has pulled into town. In tow are her boyfriend, Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), and their friends Liz (Largo Woodruff) and Richie (Miles Chapin). Thinking it would be fun to spend the night in the campy “Funhouse” horror ride, the teens witness a murder by a deformed worker wearing a mask. Locked in, Amy and her friends must evade the murderous carnival workers and escape before it leaves town the next day.
Dean R. Koontz wrote a novelization of the screenplay under the pseudonym Owen West. The book contains a lot of backstory added by Koontz. Because of this, and the fact that the book was released before the movie due to a delay in post-production, it is often mistaken that the movie is based on the book, but the book is in fact based on the movie. (Source)
Tobe Hooper re-used some of the film’s props when he directed the music video for Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” (1983). See if you can spot them below.