Back in November of 2015, I had the pleasure of screening and reviewing a wonderfully fun horror comedy from director Andy Palmer called The Funhouse Massacre. Written by Ben Begley (who also stars in the film) and Renee Dorian, the movie is a highly entertaining love letter to classic 80s slashers. Although it’s heavy on comedy and intentionally cheesy (in a good way), it never neglects the horror.
In fact, The Funhouse Massacre is overflowing with creative kills, a ridiculously high body count, and exceptional old school practical effects.
The Funhouse Massacre premiered at HorrorHound to rave reviews, winning the BEST FEATURE and BEST SPECIAL EFFECTS awards. After all the positive buzz, AMC Independent picked it up for a limited theatrical release ahead of its VOD and its DVD/Blu-ray release by Scream Factory. This easily made my “best of” list for the year and became one of those films I can’t stop talking about and turning other horror fans on to.
Here’s an excerpt from my original review, just to give you an idea of how much I loved it.
This film promises a massacre, and it certainly delivers. With an outrageously high body count and exceptional practical effects, it’s eye candy for gorehounds and fans of old school slashers. Parker employs the FX talents of the great Robert Kurtzman (Army of Darkness, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Predator) to deliver the gloriously excessive, bloody and brutal kills.
The Funhouse Massacre makes the most of an ingenious setup. It’s Halloween night at the funhouse, and a new haunted house attraction, whose gimmick is recreating the gruesome crimes of real life serial killers, has the town buzzing. Unfortunately, those same killers have just broken out of a maximum security insane asylum (run by horror icon Robert Englund), and they’re looking to cause a little mayhem. After quickly disposing of the actors hired to portray the infamous psychopaths, they decide to insert themselves into the action — turning the tourist trap into a death trap.
The film features great performances from the entire cast, but the main attraction is the group of Six Psychopaths, deranged madmen (and one mad woman) with personality traits inspired by the most notorious real life serial killers — and a famous fictional villain.
ANIMAL THE CANNIBAL (E.E. Bell)
Animal is a cannibal chef who was caught literally serving customers. He’s inspired in part by the most notorious cannibalistic serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal or the Milwaukee Monster. He raped, murdered, and dismembered 17 men and boys from 1978 to 1991. Many of his later murders involved necrophilia, cannibalism, and the permanent preservation of body parts. Although diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and a psychotic disorder, Dahmer was found to be legally sane at his trial. He was sentenced to 16 terms of life in prison, but was beaten to death by a fellow inmate in 1994.
DR. SUAVE (Sebastian Siegel)
Dr. Suave is a dentist with demented desires. Both incredibly deadly and deadly handsome, he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing who earned the dubious nickname of “The Lady Killer”. The character was inspired in part by Ted Bundy, an American serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, and necrophile. Bundy — a college educated law student — used his good looks and charm to earn the trust of his young female victims, who he assaulted and murdered during the 1970s, often revisiting the scene of the crime to perform sexual acts with the decomposing corpses. Bundy maintained his innocence for more than a decide before confessing to 30 homicides he committed in seven states right before his execution. His real victim count could be much higher.
ROCCO THE CLOWN (Mars Crain)
Rocco is a former wrestler who ‘accidentally’ killed one too many opponents in the ring. He’s played by Mars Crain, who casts an imposing shadow at 6' 8" tall. His penchant for indulging in grease-painted mayhem in and out of the ring is clearly an allusion to the famous Killer Clown, John Wayne Gacy, also known as “Pogo the Clown” or “Patches the Clown”. Gacy sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County, Illinois. He buried 26 of his victims in the crawl space of his home.
THE TAXIDERMIST (Clint Howard)
Played by the brilliant character actor Clint Howard, The Taxidermist makes a killing by stuffing birds, but his real passion is using his taxidermy skills on human victims. His character is a nod to the Butcher of Plainield, Ed Gein. Gein was an American murderer and body snatcher. And though he never racked up the body count of some of the most infamous killers (confessing to killing only two women), he remains one of the most notorious due to his habit of exhuming corpses from local graveyards and fashioning trophies and keepsakes from their bones and skin. Though Gein was found guilty of murder, he was deemed legally insane and died at the Mendota Mental Health Institute in 1984 of cancer-induced liver and respiratory failure at age 77 on July 26, 1984. He’s inspired some of horror’s most influential and beloved films, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Psycho.
MENTAL MANNY DYER (Jere Burns)
The sadistic leader of the group is Manny, a former cult leader who got his religious flock to commit mass suicide. Manny is the most dangerous and sinister of all the psychopaths, and he’s a heavy-handed reference to American religious cult leader Jim Jones who was responsible for a mass suicide and mass murder in Jonestown, Guyana. When US Congressman Leo Ryan led a delegation to Jones’ commune to investigate rumors of human rights abuses, Ryan and others were murdered by gunfire while boarding a return fight with defectors. Jones subsequently committed a mass murder-suicide of 918 of his followers, 304 of whom were children, almost all by cyanide poisoning via Flavor Aid. This historical episode gave rise to the American-English expression "drinking the Kool-Aid".
DOLLFACE (Candice De Visser)
Arguably one of the most popular characters of the film, the sole female among the maniacs is Dollface. She’s a psychotic mass murderer known as the Stitch Face Killer (or simply Stitch-Face) who dresses like a clown and stitches the face of her victims closed. Dollface is also known as Ms. Eileen Quinn, an obvious reference to the psychotic bad girl of Gotham, Harley Quinn (aka, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel). And like her fictional inspiration, she’s as playful and free spirited as she is totally twisted and completely off her rocker.
Assuming Dollface follows the trend of also being inspired by a real life baddie, she may be modeled somewhat after the bloodthirsty beauty Elizabeth Bathory. Renowned for her creamy complexion, slim figure, and delicate features, it was perhaps Elizabeth Bathory’s obsession with her appearance that led her to torture and murder about six hundred young women and girls, earning her a reputation for being a vampire and the name of “Blood Countess”. She is said to have also been one of the inspirations for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
If you haven’t seen THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE, now is a great time to enjoy this ridiculously fun, funny and fast paced horror comedy with a Halloween setting. Featuring one of the highest body counts ever and exceptional practical effects, this film knows how to give horror fans exactly what they want—interesting psychopathic killers, a likable cast of would-be victims, and plenty of bloody carnage. And be sure to stay until the end of the credits for a couple of fun surprises.
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