While not a classic, The Funhouse takes some of the standard 1980s slasher tropes and mixes them with a unique setting and some occasionally imaginative filmmaking.
The plot sees teenager Amy (Elizabeth Berridge) going on a double date with Buzz (Cooper Huckabee), Richie (Miles Chapin) and Liz (Largo Woodruff) to a carnival. Once there, they ride the rides, eat dodgy looking food and, being teens in a slasher film, smoke pot, and make out. Richie has the bright idea that the four of them should spend the night in the funhouse. What they don't realise is that they are locked in with a deranged carnival employee who has already murdered the fortune teller.
There's plenty of genre clichés, such as nudity drug use, a POV shot from behind a mask (with a creepy - not in a good way - punchline). There's also not a whole lot of action on the first half of the film, with the emphasis on the creepy unwholesome end of the carnival, the freak shows, burlesque dancers and mutant animals. The carnival is almost a character in itself and there is very much an "us and them" attitude of the carnival workers to the outside world, reminiscent of Leatherface and his family in Hooper's earlier classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The shocks and suspense come once the teens come under threat, with director Tobe Hooper makes the most of disorienting location helped by dizzying editing and photography that plays up the lurid colours in the climactic confrontation. Kudos also to Rick Baker's gooey mutant creature work and John Beal’s orchestral score.