• Funhouse Massacre, The

    Released By: Shout! Factory
    Released On: June 7, 2016.
    Director: Andy Palmer
    Cast: Robert Englund, Jere Burns, Scottie Thompson, Clint Howard, Courtney Gains
    Year: 2015
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    If we were to judge The Funhouse Massacre by its cover...the cover of the new Blu-ray from Shout/Scream Factory...we may be convinced that it was nothing but another mediocre, uninspired entry adding to the pile of low-budget horror dreck that's flooded the market since HD Video gave talent-less folk the ability to crank out professional looking product. Before hitting PLAY, I wondered....twelve beers, or a bottle of whiskey? How will I sit through this? Work night prevailed, no booze was consumed, and The Funhouse Massacre exceeded expectations greatly.

    The Statesville Mental Hospital; one of the last holdouts of the forgotten age of insane asylums, a dark and foreboding building that houses the worst criminals in recent history. Their crimes too horrific for most to even contemplate, these murderers did not pass Go, did not collect 200 dollars, and did not receive a trial...instead, they were sent directly to Statesville to rot away in obscurity for the rest of their miserable lives. But on Halloween night, a buxom raven-haired journalist arrives at Statesville to interview Warden Kane (Robert Englund), and share the story of the asylum's inmates with the rest of the world. What about their rights? What about due process? To showcase the "victims" she's interested in championing, Warden Kane takes her on a tour of the building, introducing her to its most famous tenants. A cannibalistic chef. A murderous, sadistic dentist. A taxidermist who would rather stuff humans than animals. A wrestler whose "Battle Royale" ended with a ring full of corpses. And the mass-murdering cherry on the sundae, Mental Manny (Jere Burns) a self-proclaimed prophet who convinced his flock to go the way of Jonestown.

    Surely, says Warden Kane, these crazed individuals don't deserve the same rights as the rest of humankind? Off the record, says Warden Kane, wouldn't it be fantastic if we could just go from cell to cell and put a bullet in each of these monsters? Unfortunately for Warden Kane, his old-school ideas regarding the imprisonment don't sit well with the reporter, who, after seducing the former Mr. Krueger with a Happy Tingly Pants Dance, garrotes the shit out of him, kills the guards, and frees the inmates. This is no regular reporter; this is Mental Manny's daughter, come to free her father at last. But, after years of imprisonment, where are a bunch of psychos going to go where they can fit in?

    Thankfully, that very Halloween night sees the opening of a horror-themed funhouse based on local legends, including (of course) the crimes committed by the inmates of Statesville. Run by an entrepreneur with some wacky ideas (Courtney Gains) the funhouse will feature clowns, an homage to the a still-current serial killer, a restaurant that serves human meat, a bloody dentist's office, and a maze based on the mass suicide of Mental Manny's cult, all presented for the enjoyment of the public. But not everyone is impressed, and the murderers that the attractions are based on take issue with some of the historical inaccuracies, taking out their frustration on unsuspecting paying customers. The body count ramps up quickly, the front gates are locked, and it'll be up to a mismatched bunch of oddball patrons, including a sexy Hillary Clinton, a hometown football hero, a female bumblebee, and a cop and her bumbling, trigger-happy partner to save the day.

    Unlike the aforementioned garbage that permeates the world of horror these days, The Funhouse Massacre manages to rise above by maintaining a perfect balance between not taking itself too seriously, without falling into overblown schlocky comedy. Cast members Ben Begley and Renee Dorian haven't exactly written a brilliantly inventive story here, but there's enough in the way of characters and settings to keep things interesting throughout the running time. Newish Director Andy Palmer has done a fine job at kicking the film along at a pace that's not too rapid but doesn't allow the film to stagnate, and draws some pretty great performances here while also doing a swell job taking care of action scenes, and the use of effective and sometimes impressive practical effects is refreshing in this age of overdone CGI.

    The energy in The Funhouse Massacre is a good thing, carried along by just the right amount of wise-cracking and blood, and yes, even a nipple or two. A perfectly fitting score helps with the atmosphere, and it's great to see such a parade of well-known faces; Robert Englund doesn't dominate this one (a good thing), and we get a good dose of the always entertaining Clint Howard, as well as Jere Burns; a great actor who keeps popping up in better and better roles. Sure, there are gaping plot holes. Absolutely, there are some cringe-worthy performances here and there, and no, this one won't be getting a nod from the Academy. But The Funhouse Massacre is worthy entry into the modern horror film market, and a nice reminder of a time when the genre was fun.


    Shout (Scream!) Factory brings The Funhouse Massacre to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 2.35:1 transfer that looks pretty good. Blacks are decent, detail is clear, and the film looks quite decent for a lower-budget entry. No compression issues or other visual flaws are present.

    The English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track is tastefully done, with consistently clear dialogue throughout, balanced nicely with the score and sound effects, and it wisely avoids overdoing the surround tracks, instead using them more responsibly and to greater effect. No audio issues were detected during the viewing of the film. There is also a DTS-HD MA 2.0 track available that functions nicely for those with stereo setups.

    English Subtitles are provided.

    First up in the supplemental section is Production Diaries (5:35), a brief, digitally blocky look at some of the action on the set, with actors and crew occasionally contributing snippets of conversation for your enjoyment.

    A Day On Set (3:15) is more or less the same with less blockiness, a compilation of footage shot while the filming was taking place. Unfortunately, neither of these pieces are particularly interesting, but you may find differently.

    Popcorn Talk Watchalong is a picture-in-picture visual commentary featuring Director Andy Palmer, and Writers/Cast Members Renee Dorian and Ben Begley. The three talk pretty much non-stop, discussing aspects of making The Funhouse Massacre, such as Robert Englund's involvement, the locations used in the film, and the intense shooting schedule. There's quite a bit of redundancy here when compared with the....

    Feature-Length Commentary with Andy Palmer, Clint Howard, Mala...errrr, Courtney Gains, and though Warner Davis gets a credit in the menu, he's not present for this. Again, this is a fairly chatty commentary that does a fair amount of describing what's on screen, but also goes into detail on Englund's involvement, the use of gore in the film as a comedic device, filming at the various locations in Ohio, audience response to the film, and information on the various actors. With nary a silent moment to be found, this commentary has a good deal of information on the making of the film.

    A Trailer rounds out the extras.

    The Final Word:

    Surprisingly entertaining, The Funhouse Massacre gets by not just on it's notable cast members, but some good-old fashioned bloody fun...something that more independent film makers could do with.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Jason C's Avatar
      Jason C -
      The blood splatter isn't CGI? I am sick of CGI blood so I've been avoiding new horror for awhile.
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      There is a bit of cgi in there, I'm sure, but there's also a good chunk of practical effects.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Great recommendation, Mark! This is entertaining, gory, old-school horror done right. Best of all, it has an original concept that's pretty damn clever and disturbing. I can't help but wonder if Rob Zombie's 31 is going to be similar to this. It was nice seeing Courtney Gaines in a bigger role than usual; he steals every scene he's in! The FX by Robert Kurtzman are typically outstanding (and besides some bullet hits, I didn't notice any CGI). Having the real killers complaining about the inaccuracies of their individual funhouse displays was a nice touch. I wonder what Scream Factory was thinking with that dreadful cover art? It's going to trick people into thinking that it sucks, when it's actually one of the better horror releases this year.