Movie Review: The Funhouse (1981)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1981 horror movie starring Elizabeth Berridge and Shawn Carson.

Synopsis: Four teenagers go on a double date to a traveling carnival and decide to secretly spend the night in the carnival's fun house. Their romantic night is quickly ruined, however, when they witness the ride's hideously deformed operator murder the carnival's fortune teller and, unable to escape, become his next targets.


My youngest daughter had an open house at her dance school yesterday evening and, by the time we got home, it was already getting a little late. However, since my wife and I had not had dinner yet, we ended up sitting on the couch and watching this film.

When I came across this on one of our movie channels, I thought, at least from the description, it would be an entertaining horror movie. Unfortunately, the film never fully lived up to expectations.

The movie does have some things going for it as far as the background location goes. The carnival they attended was actually pretty creepy, especially since there were a wide variety of background characters that, while ultimately harmless, helped to add to the dark atmosphere.

And, to be fair, the main monster (Doba) was pretty scary looking. I especially loved how the movie set up his appearance by having the carnival include an animal freak show (complete with two-headed cow, etc.).

I think my biggest problem with this horror film is the movie seems like it is almost over before anything actually happens. There are multiple scenes involving gratuitous nudity before the first murder even occurs and, by the time the action started, I was actually finding myself getting a bit bored.

In fact, the scariest thing in the first half of this movie had to be Amy's (Berridge) younger brother, Joey (Carson). That kid's horror movie obsession, combined with his apparent obsession with his older sister (he unabashedly walks in on her while she's taking a shower) actually made him creepier than the main bad guy. As a result, I honestly was a little disappointed when he turned out to have a somewhat limited role.

The Funhouse (Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

Director Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Poltergeist) pays affectionate tribute to various classic horror movies in this tale of two teenage couples who spend the nigh...

View on Amazon

Final Opinion

The movie had quite a bit of potential because of the creepy carnival setting. However, because the film takes too long to get to the real action, it never reaches a point where it is overly memorable. It is, at best, an average horror film.

My Grade: C

More By This Writer

Love Poems for My Wife

When Steve first met Cynthia back in 2000, he knew she was the woman for him and proposed to her just three months after their first date. Married to her since 2003, he has ofte...

View on Amazon

The Lonely, Shallow Grave

Beaver Dam, WI author Steven Helmer (“Love Poems for My Wife” and “Murder by Chili”) shows off his darker side with this compilation of short stories focusing on frustration, st...

View on Amazon

Updated: 01/09/2018, StevenHelmer
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Only logged-in users are allowed to comment. Login

You might also like

Movie Review: Prom Night (1980)

A review of the 1980 slasher movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Leslie Nielsen.

Movie Review: Stir Crazy (1980)

A review of the 1980 comedy starring Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder.

Movie Review: The Thing (1982)

A review of the 1982 thriller starring Kurt Russell and Keith David.

Disclosure: This page generates income for authors based on affiliate relationships with our partners, including Amazon, Google and others.
Loading ...