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The carnival has come to town!
Four teens (Amy, Buzz, Richie and Liz) are having a Double Date and decide to visit the travelling carnival. After seeing the usual attractions, they smoke some dope and have the bright idea to stay in the funhouse after the carnival's closing.
While making out and hiding out, they accidentally witness the funhouse barker's son Gunther strangling the carnival's Fortune Teller because he's not pleased with her...erm..."services". Soon enough they find out that they are locked inside and -- due to Richie's stupid idea to steal the funhouse barker's money -- Gunther and his father are now hunting them down.
There's also a sub-plot with Amy's little brother Joey that just provides few cheap scares.
And that's Tobe Hooper's 1981 Slasher Movie The Funhouse. It has your typical Slasher conventions: Stupid teens, plenty of Fan Service and a deformed albino killer with three noses and red eyes so far apart from each other it's clearly Special Effects Failure.
Enter the funhouse and you'll find:
- Accidental Murder: Gunther tricks Buzz to kill Richie.
- Achilles Heel: Women are this to Gunther.
- Acting for Two: Kevin Conway plays three different barkers in the film.
- Alone with the Psycho
- Auto Erotica: Two carnies are seen making out in a van.
- Amusement Park
- Axe Before Entering
- An Axe to Grind: Buzz steals one from an executioner doll to defend himself.
- Cat Scare: Provided by a dog.
- Closed Circle
- Conveyor Belt of Doom
- Covers Always Lie: Various VHS and DVD covers show a murderous clown with an axe, who doesn't appear in the film at all.
- And despite what the French poster above is telling, no-one's nose gets electrocuted in this film.
- Creepy Doll: The funhouse is filled with these. Several of them also appear during the opening credits.
- Developing Doomed Characters
- Double Date
- Dramatic Thunder: Artificial kind is featured in the funhouse.
- Dramatic Unmask
- Evil Albino: Gunther.
- Evil Laugh: Done by some of the dolls in the funhouse, some even to Narmy levels.
- Fan Service
- Final Girl: Amy.
- Fortune Teller: Madame Zena. She even has a Crystal Ball.
- Frankenstein's Monster: Gunther is dressed as one to hide deformed features.
- Giant Eye of Doom: In the funhouse.
- Giant Spider: Ditto.
- Gory Discretion Shot
- Hooks and Crooks: Amy defends herself with a crowbar in the final confrontation with Gunther.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice
- Impending Doom POV: Mixed with Hand of Death.
- In Mysterious Ways: Said by Gunther's father.
- Infant Immortality
- Jizzed in My Pants: Gunther kills Madame Zena when he comes early and she won't give him a refund.
- Jump Scare: Due to Gunther's thrashing with Zena, the electrics in the funhouse go haywire and start up at random intervals.
- Mutants: Gunther. His deceased brother was also one and is on display in the freak show.
- Nerd Glasses: Richie wears them.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Joey.
- No Name Given: Conrad and Gunther Straker remain unnamed in the film and the ending credits calls them "Funhouse Barker" and "The Monster". Their real names are featured in the novelization.
- Not Quite Dead
- Novelization: By Dean Koontz. See the bottom of the page for more.
- People Jars: Gunther's dead infant brother resides in one in the freak show attraction.
- Pet the Dog: Gunther's father Conrad is an asshole most of the time, but we are shown that he does love his deformed son when convinces Gunther to go after the teens.
- Phlegmings: Gunther provides a plenty of it.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Gunther's eyes.
- Rule of Scary
- The Scourge of God
- Screaming Woman
- Shower Scene
- Stage Magician: Marco the Magnificent.
- Taking You with Me
- Title Drop
- Trap Door: Liz is caught by one.
- The Unintelligible: Gunther, though he manages to blurt out "father" when Conrad questions him about Zena's death.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment
The novelization based on the script (written my Dean Koontz under the pseudonym Owen West) was released in 1980. The reason it was released earlier is because the film's production took longer than expected.
It expands the roles of Amy's mother Ellen and Conrad Straker, as it reveals that they were married twenty years ago. Overtly Christian Ellen killed their firstborn son Victor (as she believed that he was evil) and ran away. Conrad vows that he will kill her children if she ever again has any. He then uses his carnival job to lure in kids that he suspect are Ellen's and lets Gunther to kill them. Madame Zenda's role is also expanded, as she helps Conrad to his targets.