On Halloween night, a group of the United States' most notorious serial killers escape from Statesville Asylum and descend upon a giant funhouse whose theme is based on their different reigns of terror. The unsuspecting carnival patrons think that the carnage created at the park is just part of the showuntil they become part of the main attraction. The only people left to stop the killers are a rag-tag group of college kids, a clueless deputy (Ben Begley, The Hungover Games) and the local sheriff (Scottie Thompson, Skyline, Before I Wake), who seems to have a strange attachment to the leader of the maniacs, the silver-tongued devil "Mental Manny" (Jere Burns, Justified, Angie Tribeca). This chilling thriller features supporting turns by horror icons Clint Howard (Evilspeak, The Lords of Salem), Courtney Gains (Children of the Corn, The 'Burbs) and A Nightmare on Elm Street's Robert Englund as the warden.
In THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE. to everyone in Macon County, Statesville Asylum, is now just a rundown building. However, little do they know, that the asylum is still secretly operating. When a reporter by the name of Jessica Quinn comes to Statesville to inquire, Warden Kane, essentially lifts the lid on the place that the town has basically kept secret for quite some time. As revealed, Statesville stays quiet purposely, because that is where the state sends its most dangerous criminals, in order to sweep them under the proverbial rug, so to speak. It's news that Kane believes will be startling to the young reporter. But the truth is, she was already aware. Why? Because her father, just so happens to be one of Statesville's demented residents. Her father, who is known as "Mental Manny" behind the walls of the asylum, was once a preacher, who was responsible for orchestrating a mass suicide, by fire. Quinn, and her father have actually been planning this Halloween escape for some time, with a specific motive in mind. Not only does Quinn release her father, but also 4 of Statesville's most cracked. However, Manny's and his daughter's sadistic night of carnage is just beginning as they descend on the local scream park. It's here, that many of the park's acts have been fashioned to resemble the very crimes that made this group infamous. Mental Manny, feels that he, and the others haven't yet received the credit for what people have since come to profit from. And so the night of bloody chaos commences as the group carry out further crimes, under the guise that it all just part of the show.
I'll be honest, right from the beginning, and say that the film's title did very little for me, in terms of anticipation for this film. I mean, how many films have used the word "massacre" in its title, over time in Horror? Not to mention that Tobe Hooper, the man responsible for making the word "massacre", hip in Horror, already has films with both "Funhouse" and "Massacre" in them, so there you go. So, yeah, the title, THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE, just sounds so generic. But, fortunately this is one of those cases where a title isn't everything. Because no matter how generic that may be, the movie itself, is not. It's actually a pretty fun time.
In it's general setup, one might be able to spot some inspirations immediately in THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE. It does bear some resemblance to such film's as CLOWNHOUSE, ALONE IN THE DARK, HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, and maybe a little bit of a CABIN IN THE WOODS. Yet, it is able to take in consideration these inspiration points, and blend them into one, carnage filled cocktail of Horror and blood. However, before any of the film's bloodshed goes down, it nicely gives each of the film's villians' life, by providing a little backstory on each, as told brilliantly by Robert Englund, who portrays the Warden of Statesville Asylum, "Kane". Not only do we have "Mental Manny"(Jere Burns), the deranged Preacher, he's joined by a sadistic Taxidermist(portrayed by Clint Howard), who has a Knack for restoring corpses. Then there is "Rocco the Clown"(Mars Crain), a brute who is an ex-wrestler. One known for killing several opponents. There's "Animal the Cannibal"(E.E. Bell), a once renowned Chef, who just so happened to use human parts within his dishes. And then there is the handsome, but insane, "Dr. Suave"(Sebastian Siegel), a Dentist, who just so happens to have taken his love for perfect bicuspids, a little to far. But, last but not least, remember the reporter, Jessica Quinn? Not only is she Manny's daughter, she's also a vicious killer in her own right. She's earned the nickname "Stitchface", which references the way in which she stitches the eyes and mouths of her victims shut. With that said, before the "massacre" begins, the film gives us enough colorful insight about these killers before it all goes down.
When it does all "go down", the film does things as it should. From what I could tell, all of THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE's special effects were achieved practically, with no use of CGI in sight(again, that I could tell). This is a great thing, and the effects, which were supervised by Robert Kurtzman, are glorious. For a Horror fan who loves the visuals of the genre, there is nothing like seeing one's head explode, or to see another decapitated, whether it be by a sharp object, or via a killer's bare hands. It's all and good fun, and that's just what this film delivers. With fun in mind, THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE is not always serious in tone. There is a level of comedy to be found within. The comedy element is hit and miss. While, for the most part, it works, there are moments where it just feels out of place. But I did really enjoy all of the moments that involved the bumbling "Deputy Doyle", played by Ben Begley, as the character constantly straddles the line of both competent, and incompetent in his Police duties.
The character structure is the norm, here. While the villains lay to waste a number of the scream park's patrons, our focus is on a group of co-workers, as they go out for a night of fun. But of course it soon turns deadly. There is also focus put upon Macon County's Sheriff. Kate, as well as her Deputy. The film does a great job of handling each group of characters. There is even a later development in the story that ties Kate to one of the killers. I felt that it was fairly clever, how it all ended up.
Despite having a generic sounding title, THE FUNHOUSE is actually a lot more fun than its simple title would suggest. There's a high-spirited plot setup, fun characters, which includes the villains, and a nice helping of practical gore effects. I enjoyed it.
As for special features, the disc from SCREAM FACTORY includes production dairies, a behind the scenes featurette, as well as both an audio and video commentary(the video commentary being a Blu-Ray exclusive).
6.5/10 A bloody strangulation, ones face is ripped off, and then worn, a smashed skull via a wooden mallet, a head ripped off, by hand, a decapitation, an impalement, several gunshot wounds and more.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
As I've said above, I enjoyed THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE despite initially not having expectations, But it's a fun, and easy watch as it has a familiar feel to it for most of its 90 minute runtime. I have always been a fan of Horror films set within a circus/funhouse, or around, and so this is a very welcome edition to that fold. I recommend!
Special Features include
- Audio Commentary With Director Andy Palmer, Producer Warner Davis And Actors Clint Howard And Courtney Gains
Popcorn Talk's Video Commentary With Director Andy Palmer And Co-writers/Co-stars Ben Begley And Renee Dorian (Blu-ray Only)
- A Day On The Set
- Production Diaries
- Theatrical Trailer
This film will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 7, 2016