Tag Archives: Retro horror

Remembering Tobe Hooper’s TV Version of ‘The Funhouse’

Remember back in the day when you relied on a boxed TV with rabbit ears for entertainment purposes? You know, the kind where you had to adjust the antennas for that perfect reception with the smallest amount of static? With just the right amount of ominous static and bonus scenes that I never saw again until twenty years later; this, my nostalgic nuggets, is how I first viewed The Funhouse.

It was an early rainy Saturday afternoon in 1988. After a glorious morning filled with two bowls of Yummy Mummy cereal and Super Mario 2 on my highly coveted Nintendo Entertainment System, the combination of 8-bit eyes and a sugar crash began to settle in. Hence, along with the pitter-patter of the rain hitting the rooftop, it seemed like a good time to settle in with a little basic TV.

Grabbing the TV Guide, I skimmed up at the clock to see it was almost 1:00 PM and that meant Saturday afternoon movies on Vegas 33, who were pretty notorious for showcasing horror films on the weekend for us young genre aficionados. Low and behold, according to the Holy Bible of TV programming, I was just in time for a little film called The Funhouse, which I had never seen prior.

PERFECTION.

Knowing nothing other than the brief synopsis from Mr. TV Guide, it didn’t matter one bit as I was immediately suckered in through those glorious opening credits. Hypothetically speaking, the rest of the movie could have been 100% trash and I would still love it as much I do today based alone on that creepy as shit opener filled with animatronic nightmares.

Hooper’s Funhouse has become one of my top go-to comfort films. As the saying goes, “You always remember your first kiss.” Well, I remember my first time seeing Gunther; and it was creature feature love at first sight.

TV runnings of certain films tend to differ from theatrical versions with either an addition or subtraction of scenes to accommodate time slots. For example, the televised version of John Carpenter’s Halloween usually had axed or alternate scenes from the theatrical cut included in an airing. While they don’t necessarily add anything prominent to the feature, it’s still pretty fun to view an alternative variant of one of your favorite movies.  Such as with The Funhouse, as I had actually seen this full-blown, yet edited for violence gem from Hooper first.

Uploaded courtesy of Goremeister100, the clip shown below offers fifteen glorious minutes of what was seen in Hooper’s cult classic during a televised showing. Both alternate and deleted scenes are included offering a different look for Funhouse fans.  One of my personal favorite little bits may be trivial but I actually kind of prefer the televised scene of Gunther strangling the slutty fortune teller. Instead of focusing on the kill, the camera keeps panning away to those again, creepy Funhouse animatronic terrors that line the walls of the terror ride.

So now enjoy The Funhouse as I once did over 30 years ago!

Horror’s Forbidden Film: Clownhouse (1989)

Horror's Forbidden Film: Clownhouse (1989)

Clownhouse: A true video nasty if there ever was one. I mind-wrestled since the beginning of Nightmare Nostalgia on the notion to ever even write about this film, and here we are finally. At the end of the day, I got some things to say so we’re diving into this really troublesome movie that has become the true horror fan’s forbidden fruit.

Let’s start with my first experience with it:

Walking around the horror section in 1990 at my local mom and pop rental store Action Video, was definitely a highlight in my childhood. I’ve written countless times about how the hypnotizing VHS art covers opened up a world of horror I may have never known about before. Classic films like The Blob remake and Popcorn would have slid right by me in this era had it not been for those glorious artwork promos on the plastic rental box staring at you from afar like a lonely stranger begging for conversation. And of course, this new film stalking the shelves in the Summer of that year by then-unknown filmmaker Victor Salva caught my attention. The peering eyes of a demented clown taunted me. So duh, of course, I rented it. Brought it home, watched it on a Friday night with my dad, and I absolutely loved it.

I really hate saying that knowing we all know now about the movie.

Clownhouse is a fairly straightforward horror film about three brothers, Nathan Forrest Winters, Brian McHugh, and a then-unknown Sam Rockwell left alone in the house with some lunatic clowns on the loose who so happen to target the brothers in particular. Casey (Winters) has classic coulrophobia, and of course, his asshole big brother (Rockwell) who has a hot date but is also in charge of his two younger siblings while Mom is out of town, takes the clan to the town carnival to kill two birds with one stone. After a scare inside the big tent with a red-nosed nightmare (which was solely based on Casey’s own fears) the brothers head home for the night and the clowns retire to the makeup tents to wash off their faces- but the circus clowns themselves are being stalked by a trio of escaped mental patients. They themselves are killed and the lunatics take their clown gear, makeup, and have a hunt of their own. The prey being the three brothers of course.

As stated, Victor Salva was then an unknown to the industry and came in with this, actually really good B-horror movie flick. Beyond the obvious, this is what is incredibly problematic. The film hardly has any gore but rather plays on a psychological scare and chase theme. I would almost go far as saying it’s like a hardened, and more sophisticated “Are You Afraid of the Dark” episode made into a movie with much better acting. Which could be why I liked it so much as a kid. The film has great tension-filled pacing and eerie cinematography that sets the mood for a terrifying night filled with pained nightmares running around. But alas, it’s so uncomfortable to sit through now.

Is it possible to separate the art from the artist? Well, it’s not easy when the center of the art involves child molestation and really unsubtle shots of young boys in their underwear throughout the picture. I used to be able to think I could. However, the older I get, the more I can not. It hurts knowing what happened to the star, Nathan Forrest Winters and what he must have felt and gone through during production. After the disgusting scandal was made public, and if you do happen to rewatch it, you can just tell in this kid’s eyes the fear he has. The torment that Casey goes through in the film is a disturbing parallel of the heinous abuse Winters was subjected to at the hands of a real monster. That’s not acting, and that really angers me. It angers me even more that this piece of shit didn’t do nearly enough prison time AND went on to make a goddamn movie with Disney of all people: Powder, another really suggestive-looking trope with lots of half-naked young men, and then ultimately, Jeepers Creepers– who fuckface Salva himself said he modeled The Creeper after his own persona.

What a fuckin’ slimeball.

Anyways, if you’re one of those people who can by some magic sorcery separate the film from the behind-the-scenes horrors, then you’ll probably enjoy it; good luck finding it though beyond a free version up on YouTube. Just be prepared for the most uncomfortable hour and twenty minutes of your cinematic life.

Troma Films Releasing High Def’ Blu-Ray of “Surf Nazis Must Die”!

The beaches have become battlefields…The waves are a war zone!

Troma Team Video is starting off the new year with an all-new high definition release of the 1987 classic cult phenomenon, Surf Nazis Must Die in honor of the film’s 35th anniversary!

With an introduction by Troma master head, Lloyd Kaufman and a brand, spankin’ new interview with director Peter George, the collecter’s edition blu-ray features an array of gnarly features:

·        NEW WAVE Intro by Lloyd Kaufman, President of Troma Entertainment & Creator of THE TOXIC AVENGER!

·        Exclusive Interview with Director Peter George·        Hang 10 on Set! Interview With Producer Robin Tinnell

·        Deleted Scenes

·        The Projection Booth Podcast (Featuring special guest, Peter George!)

·        Scenes From the Tromaville Café!

·        The “Soul of Troma”

·        Troma Promos: Radiation March & Indie Artists vs. Cartels

·        Troma NOW Promo: Gizzard Face II: Return of Gizzard Face!

·        Troma Short: BLOOD STAB·        

+ More #FanTOXIC Featurettes!

“ When an earthquake leaves the California coastline in ruins and reduces the beaches to a state of chaos, group of neo-Nazis led by Adolf (Barry Brenner), the self-proclaimed “Führer of the new beach”, takes advantage of the resulting chaos by fighting off several rival surfer gangs to seize control of the beaches. Meanwhile, an African American oil well worker named Leroy (Robert Harden) is killed by the Surf Nazis while jogging on the beach. Leroy’s mother, “Mama” Washington (Gail Neely), devastated by the loss of her son, vows revenge. After arming herself with a handgun and grenades, she breaks out of her retirement home and exacts vengeance on the Surf Nazis.”

You can pre-order your copy now here from MVD Entertainment with an official release date of February 8, 2022.