A big prob­lem with mod­ern hor­ror films is that they all too often con­fuse being unpleas­ant with being creepy or scary.  Though films with that approach can make for good hor­ror, film­mak­ers often for­get that the gen­re can have a fun, roller­coast­er vibe to it.  Even the balls-to-the-wall vari­ety of hor­ror film­mak­ing can be fun: The Funhouse Massacre is an enter­tain­ing throw­back to an ‘80s style of hor­ror, where buck­ets of blood are mixed FunhMass-bluwith a zip­py pace and a cheeky tone that give the pro­ceed­ings a dement­ed cheer­ful­ness.

The Funhouse Massacre begins with a gang of col­or­ful seri­al killers escap­ing from a men­tal insti­tu­tion, a group that includes ex-cult lead­er Mental Manny (Jere Burns), psy­cho den­tist Dr. Suave (Sebastian Siegel), can­ni­bal chef Animal (E.E. Bell) and baby doll psy­cho Dollface (Candice De Visser). Instead of run­ning for the hills, they take over a “cham­ber of hor­rors” style Halloween attrac­tion, tak­ing the place of the actors to com­mit real killings of the unwit­ting patrons.  The only hope in stop­ping them lies in a group of restau­rant employ­ees attend­ing the attrac­tion, includ­ing nice girl Laurie (Renee Dorian) and her would-be suit­or Morgan (Matt Angel), and a female sher­iff (Scottie Thompson) who has an unex­pect­ed con­nec­tion to the may­hem.

The Funhouse Massacre is more hor­ror com­e­dy than pure­bred hor­ror but it’s a romp that is clear­ly aimed at the hor­ror devo­tees.  There are plen­ti­ful gore FX, most of them prac­ti­cal in nature and craft­ed by Robert Kurtzman of KNB-EFX fame.  The ranks of the killers include cult fave Clint Howard and the sup­port­ing cast includes ex–Children Of The Corn star Courtney Gains and Robert Englund in a piv­otal FunhMass-01first-act role as the asy­lum war­den who intro­duces us to the killers.  It’s also packed to the rafters with in-jokes, includ­ing a pair of hor­ror addicts who com­pare the may­hem to vin­tage hor­ror.

On the down­side, the script for The Funhouse Massacre isn’t as clev­er or sharply-craft­ed as it would like to be: it’s nice­ly paced but has a few too many char­ac­ters on both the hero and vil­lain sides and breaks down into a series of vignettes as it nears its finale instead of ramp­ing up to a mul­ti-lay­ered finale.  It also toys with a the­me of peo­ple being too desen­si­tized to rec­og­nize real may­hem right under their noses  but nev­er ful­ly com­mits to that the­me and uses it more as a spring­board for grue­some gags.FunhMass-02

However, The Funhouse Massacre is at heart designed to be a good time for those with a macabre sense of humor and on that lev­el, it deliv­ers nice­ly.  The cast is into their work and all bring the prop­er lev­el of com­mit­ment: Burns in par­tic­u­lar is great in a low-key turn as a creepy Jim Jones type and Thompson brings a sur­prise grav­i­tas to a role that gets more seri­ous as the film goes along.  Director Andy Palmer keeps the pac­ing snap­py and gives the film a nifty “hor­ror comic book” look full of pri­ma­ry col­ored light­ing and smoky night­time exte­ri­ors.

In short, The Funhouse Massacre might be more or a pro­gram­mer than a clas­sic but it has a sense of wicked fun that the mod­ern hor­ror film world could use more of.

Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory picked this title up for blu-ray release and the results will make mod­ern hor­ror fans hap­py.  The trans­fer is vibrant, with a nice lev­el of detail and an impres­sive pri­ma­ry col­or palet­te.  The loss­less 5.1 stereo track is skill­ful­ly mixed and boasts some peri­od­ic sur­round-speak­er effects that hit the tar­get nice­ly. FunhMass-03

This disc also has a decent pack­age of extras.  The first is a com­men­tary track fea­tur­ing Palmer, Gains and Howard.  Palmer leads the chat as he lays out the chal­lenges of the film’s 20-day shoot and the joys of work­ing with his cast, with Gains and Howard offer­ing their take from the actor’s per­spec­tive.  There is anoth­er com­men­tary track, done via pic­ture-in-pic­ture video that brings back Palmer to join co-writers/actors Dorian and Begley.  There’s more give-and-take here, with a nice bal­ance of details about the script and the pro­duc­tion.  The extras are round­ed out by two brief on-set video seg­ments and a trail­er.