If you’re looking for a fun, bloody way to kick off a film fest, then you can do much worse than Andy Palmer’s over the top ode to the bloody good slasher films of yesteryear, The Funhouse Massacre. Featuring one of the highest body counts of any film ever, a team of killer psychopaths on the loose in a psychedelic haunted attraction and a likable cast of would-be victims, Funhouse is a blast from start to finish.
On Halloween Night, five of society’s most depraved serial killers break out of their hidden facility with the aid of one of their member’s daughter, a sicko with a flair for growing knives in her own right. Led by a cult leader responsible for the largest mass suicide in the country’s history, the six killers take over a Halloween haunted attraction dedicated to their legacy in order to commit the largest mass murder in history. Meanwhile, back at the diner, five coworkers and a pair of their stoner buddies are shutting down the grill early in order to make their way into the Funhouse.
The first thing that jumped out about Funhouse Massacre is just how goddamn fun the movie is. Writer Ben Begley (pulling double duty as the hapless Deputy Doyle) has an obvious love for silly non sequitor humor and it really shines on the screen. Admist all the carnage, small moments like Deputy Doyle busting out Hogan’s Alley on an old school Nintendo during a boring night at the precinct works. Slipping in occasional bits of dialogue-such as the beleaguered theme park owner screaming “I know what’s going on-I’m taking nut shots from bumble bee girls!”-sets the tone for Funhouse as an all-out party horror movie. Small bits of flair like the group of killers acting with befuddlement at the way the would-be victims Tweet, Vine and Instagram all the happenings at the theme park add another layer of humor and gently mock are need to be conencted to the world at large 24/7.
Massacre offers up some of the most outrageous, brutal and fun kill scenes of any slasher film in the past ten years. Parker draws inspiration from the “anything goes” heyday of the subgenre in the early 80s when makeup and FX artists always attempted to one another with each subsequent celebration of gore. In Massacre the human skull exists for one of two purposes: getting smashed into pulpy smithereens or getting torn right of the shoulders and used as a projectile weapon. Parker employs the practical effect talents of Robert Kurtzman (Army of Darkness, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn & Predator are just three of the standout credits to his name) and had fake blood shipped in the the truckload. Parker also managed to secure a ton of extras for the film and I cannot stress enough how huge an impact that made. Aside from offering up a lot more victims and ways to dispose of them, it gave the movie a lot bigger feel. There’s so many movies where a character says “This is the biggest event of the year” only to reveal five people in an empty lot. The Funhouse attraction is a massive, dynamic structure, packed to the brim with people who have no idea what’s going on. One group of friends watch their buddy get torn to shreds while they burst into peals of laughter trying to figure out the best Hashtag to use.
That said, there’s a lot of slasher titles that offer terrific effects but are otherwise unwatchable. What sets Massacre apart is his cast. Between the six killers and the five core cast members the chemistry is outstanding. Each of the killers have a great gimmick, but standout status goes to Mars Cain as Rocco the massive ex-pro wrestling clown and Candice de Visser as “Stitch Face.” Cain lends a hulking, physical presence to the screen, as he hulks over the rest of the cast and uses his brute strength to tear victims apart piece by piece. De Visser brings an almost balletic grace to her role as doll faced killer with a talent for knives. With his teased out hair streaked with red and bondage corset outfits, she makes for a striking visual presence. The main cast also exudes likability, which is a trait too much modern horror films miss. Matt Angel is a charming dork in his role as Matt, and the object of his affection Lauren (Renee Dorian) aka Bumble Bee girl manages to be sweet and tough at the same time.
The Funhouse Massacre is righteous fun from start to finish. With horror icons Robert Englund and Clint Howard appearing in small roles, it contains a terrific horror pedigree. It’s the perfect party slasher film to throw on with friends when you’re looking for something bloody, gory and funny. AMC Entertainment has picked up the title and it’s coming to 20 markets this November ahead of a home release. Whatever you do, find a way to see this film if you love old school, chaotic slasher films.