The Funhouse and Maximum Overdrive

While working on a few new King Skull orders, I was able to take in a pair of horror icons.  The Funhouse was first.

How to summarize this film……

Talking about Funhouse will make it sound so much more meager than it actually is.  This film is a masterpiece and it’s kind of a select club that actually knows about it and appreciates it.

We open with one of the creepiest sequences ever captured on celluloid as this kid: (or a kid that looks just like this)

…gears up in a rubber mask and goes on a John Carpenter-style first person stalkfest through his own bedroom (not sure how that works) but ends up crashing in on his sister taking a shower.   The confrontation that ensues is reeeaaalllly uncomfortable as her brother plunges his rubber knife into her naked upper groin over and over again.

If that isn’t creepy enough, we then get to meet her boyfriend and it becomes immediately clear that this chick just surrounds herself with all the best people.

So she and all her friends end up going to an amusement park – or a carnival or whatever:  one of those traveling carnivals that visit the finest small towns in the outskirts of cities everywhere.

What this particular carnival doesn’t have in giant smoked turkey legs, it more than makes up for with creepy mutant animals and sideshows.  Aaaand what happens when teenagers on a double date are surrounded by mutant animals, smoked turkey legs, trash, drunks, creepy homeless men (and women) a crazy-looking Irish guy screaming “ALIVE, ALIVE, ALIIIIIVVE?”



“Wow, this place is fucking disgusting.”

“Hey, let’s sleep here.”

“Rock on.”

On the backside of the slope of Mount .Great Decision Making, they all spend the night in the Funhouse.  Things are going as great as you’d expect until they accidentally watch a mutant ride-operator with a split head, white hair, red eyes, and a voice that sounds like Mr. Bill get a handjob and then strangle a fortune teller to death.

If that’s not what it says on the back of the video box, it should be.

For the rest of the film, we get the standard series of stalking, murderstyle scarefests until the survivor(s?) escape.  We enjoy every minute of it.

This is one of those films that I like to look at through the other side of the mirror.

You’re a nice old carny, barking at a carnival in bumblefuck Southernsville when 4 kids decide to stay over illegally in your place.  They burn it down, kill everyone you know, and ruin your life, but not before most of them get killed as well.    What a raw deal.

I should mention also that this masterpiece is directed by Tobe Hooper.  Victory.

How do you follow a film like that?  It really is a great freakin’ 80s horror movie.

Here’s how you follow it.

Maximum Overdrive.

Bunch of trucks come to life and kill everyone while AC/DC plays Hells Bells.  Is this every 13-year-old’s fantasy or what?  Well in the 1980s it was.  When I heard about this film, I kicked myself in the face and my friends and I played air guitar for like 6 hours.

I don’t want to spend too much time on this film because it will just ruin it and make it sound stupid.  All I can say is that if you like Emelio Estevez, trucks controlled by alien souls living in a tail of a comet, and AC/DC, you need to watch this film.

This film has some great moments, no question.  If you can get over the retarded story, the character types are a lot more interesting to follow than in some of the other teenage films.

In fact – and this just occurred to me- this is exactly like Tremors.  I mean EXACTLY like Tremors.  Somebody should be suing somebody.

The best scene in the film is the one when a random guy we’ve never seen before opens the double doors of the truckstop, breaking all the windows while screaming for no reason “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON IN HERE?”   Think I’m making it up?

Let me clarify.  We’ve never seen that guy before and he’s gonna be dead in five minutes.  AWESOME.

Lots of great Deathrace 2000 style death scenes in this film also.  Just has to be watched in the right setting.  If you’re coming off of something like The Shining, you’re going to hate this.  But if you’ve been watching the Critters series and pop this bad boy into your VCR, you’re going to love it.