Monstervision Host Segments for

The Funhouse (1981)

"The Funhouse" Intro

The new issue of Philosophy Now is here! Did you guys get yours in the mail yet? Look, Yanni's on the cover.
You know, it's kinda sick, isn't it?, when the philosophers of the world start trying to SELL MAGAZINES by using Yanni as a cover model. Look at his expression. They handed him a brain and said "Okay, Yanni, what is it?" And, as you can see, he's NOT SO SURE.
Hey, Happy Easter! Can I say that yet? What time did the J-man rise from the dead? Well, whenever it was, I'm Joe Bob Briggs, and we're celebratin with two movies FEATURING death from the great Tobe Hooper, The Funhouse and Poltergeist

Anyhow, I've noticed lately that Philosophy Now is gettin a LITTLE risque. Look at this lead article: "Immanuel Kant and Prostitution." Naughty naughty. It reminds me of that time they had the article, "Schopenhauer: Did He Have an Ankle Tattoo?" Remember that one? And look here on page 12: "The Philosopher as Lover." They oughta be playing this stuff down.

It's bad enough when you have all those philosophy- professor groupies hanging around after class, trying to cop a feel on some guy's tweed- jacket elbow patch. But here you have an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at The City University of London, trying to REFUTE POSITIVISM, just to pick up girls. It's kinda sick. Especially when you think that the word "Emeritus" means he's probably, what?, ninety years old? But then he's from London.
All those university guys in England do creepy things under their London Fog raincoats, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

You know, we all have our favorite parts of Philosophy Now, but I have to admit, I always go straight to the ads in the back. "The Officers' Association Residential Home" in South Devon, facing over the Teign estuary: "Applicants should normally be between 65 and 80 years of age, have held a commission and should not be in need of special nursing care." How about this ad for "Pensions for the Gurkhas." You don't find THIS in every magazine. They want you to send in money for the elderly soldiers who live on Mt. Everest. Give money for research on epilepsy, brain tumors, senile dementia and Parkinson's Disease, all ailments which do tend to hamper the career of a philosopher. And, of course, "The New Erotic Catalogue"--a bit naughty it is, because one thing the English philosopher needs, is porno.

I don't know about you, though, but I've read some fascinating stuff in Philosophy Now. "Does God exist?" Remember that one?

You know what, though, I read the article but I can't remember whether He does or does not exist. "Are there such things as natural rights?" That was a funny one. "Is there a basic good in the innate nature of man?"

That was one three-day drunken party. We had a bunch of Foucault freaks come over, and then the David Hume people got ticked off and tried to leave, but one of the Foucault guys threw a Lowenbrau on him, and it was so cool.

And speaking of wild nights, we're gonna get started with "The Funhouse," directed by the great Tobe Hooper.

It's your basic tale of horny teenagers decide to spend the night inside ...a funhouse. But a horny mutant carnival freak has something unsavory going with the fortune teller under the floorboards, and he's not too happy when he finishes a tad early, if you know what I mean, and the bodies start droppin.

Let's wait and do those drive-in totals at the next break. Roll film.

[fading] Do you guys read "Philosophy Now"? No. I'm working on an article for em now. "Cogito Eggo Sum."

"I think, therefore I'm a frozen waffle."

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #1

The great thing about these low-budget Tobe Hooper films is that they're all grainy and kinda jumpy, so if you were watching this at a drive-in in the early eighties, you might start thinking, There's a possibility this could have actually been MADE by a maniac.

All horror films are better if they're grainy and choppy. Anyhow, did you notice how it said "Introducing Elizabeth Berridge?" She plays Amy, our heroine, who's sneaking out with her low-life gas- station attendant boyfriend Buzz. But I wonder how Elizabeth Berridge feels about that.

For the rest of her life, people will say to her "Hey, I didn't know you were in 'The Funhouse.' Cool!" Elizabeth Berridge was great as Mozart's wife in "Amadeus"-- remember her, running around goin "Wolfie! Wolfie!"- -and then she played the butch female cop on "The John Larroquette Show," which was a weird career choice for a cutie like her, but I guess she needed the money--and now THAT'S over. So, Elizabeth, wherever you are, drop us a line and let us know what you're doing. Maybe you could do a TNT Original or something. And remember the motto of all struggling actresses over the age of 35: there's always the Lifetime Network, right? Okay, let's find out what the old hag was trying to tell us.

But first, as promised, the drive-in totals.
We have:

Five dead bodies.
Two breasts, which we won't be showing.
Mutant farm animals.
Ax to the head.
Crowbar to the head.
Side-show stripping.
Exhaust fan Fu.

Two and a half stars. Check it out, and I'll be hangin here with you throughout. Roll it.

[fading] "God is watching you! He hears everything!" If God is WATCHING you, how does he HEAR everything? That was technically the Old Crone.

All good horror movies have at least one Old Crone. This one has a couple of em. The Old Crone is there to remind you what your girlfriend is eventually going to look like. Thats why she's so scary.

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #2

You know, at first I thought Madame Zena was the same person as Marco the Magnificent. That Zena was the same guy in drag. But it turns out, it's... just Sylvia Miles. And that's William Finley as the booze-swilling Marco. He used to be a big Brian DePalma favorite, starred in Brian's musical, "Phantom of the Paradise," remember that one? But what are we talking about Brian DePalma for? Let's talk about Tobe Hooper, director of this flick, and, of course, the brilliant "Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Tobe's FROM Texas, and the man seems to be most at home making movies about backwoods sickos.

In fact, I think the most effective scenes in the flick we're watching now are when it slips into that world a little bit. I won't give anything away.

Anyhow, after "Chainsaw," he made the gator flick "Eaten Alive," also known as "Legend of the Bayou" and about four other names, because they could never quite get the marketing campaign right. Starring Neville Brand as a motel owner who likes to feed his guests to the gators out back.

Good movie, which only got released in, like, three theaters, so he took on TV--he directed the Stephen King mini-series "Salem's Lot." And that did pretty well, so Universal hired him to do his first major studio movie, which was "The Funhouse," and that did okay, too. Then Steven Spielberg, who was a big fan of "Chainsaw," hired him to do "Poltergeist," but everybody thought Spielberg actually directed it. We'll talk more about that later. And even though "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2," which Tobe directed in 86, is also pretty brilliant, even though I'm in it, lately he's been doin TV again, and the occasional flick that comes and goes, like "The Mangler," which is about a laundry- folding machine that's possessed by the Devil. Which doesn't sound half bad, but he's not really tapping into the Southern psyche like he was so good at. He's got a movie coming out this year called "The Sacrifice"-- maybe that'll bring back the crazy Texan we know and love. I hope so. One thing I gotta give him, he's stuck to the horror flick. He's never tried to get all serious on us and do movies about the plight of his ancestors, or the atrocities committed against the natives of some dang place. The man does killer laundry machines.

My kinda guy.

Okay, let's get back to "The Funhouse."

[fading] You know, why is it when you read a bio of a movie-guy, they act like it's some tragedy whenever he does something on TV? It's like, Oh, you heard about Joe Blo, didn't you? He's doing [whispering] television. Maybe he LIKES doing television. Maybe he's tired of working for three years on one movie that the studio may decide to not even RELEASE.

I totally buy into this stuff, and I do TV myself. I feel so enlightened all of a sudden. Somebody slap me.

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #3

I don't know if that guy is really a carnival barker, but he's pretty authentic.

"You will scream with terror. You will beg for release."

I used to go to the Arkansas State Fair just to watch those carnies. And I really DID sneak into the strip show.

I think it accounts for my attitude toward women today--women that old and fat should NEVER be nekkid.

Anyway, the same guy plays ALL the barkers in this movie--Kevin Conway, doing a pretty good job. And while the carnival closes down, why don't we open up a little mail in our weekly installment of "Joe Bob's Advice to the Hopeless," [enters] and to deliver that mail is someone I'D pay to see in a tent, if you know what I mean, Rusty, the TNT Mail Girl. So what do you got goin on for Easter tomorrow, Rusty? Little egg hunt?

MAIL GIRL: Yeah, that's right, I'm going on an egg hunt.

JB: Can I be the Easter Bunny and play Hide-the-Egg with you?

MAIL GIRL: You're gonna get fired one of these days.

JB: Yeah, but I'll go down swingin.

MAIL GIRL: What are YOU doing for Easter?

JB: Well, you know, I cook a ham every year, have the church group over for brunch. . . .

MAIL GIRL: Nice try. Here's an e-mail from Aaron Holley somewhere out in cyberspace.

JB: "Joe Bob,

"Your on-air personality really grates me sometimes, especially when you show up with the Confederate flag. As a Black American, the flag and what it represents is repulsive to me. If you promise not to wear it again, I'll continue to watch the show and support the sponsors who pay the bills to keep you on air. "I watch your show because 1) I enjoy the movies (even the turkeys) and 2) I once had a job as a drive-in projectionist and can identify with your drive-in report. My family and I love to ski, but also go to the drive-in regularly during the summer months since we can't ski then. Keep up the good work, just keep off the shirt and all will be well.

"Aaron Holley."

You know, every time I wear that shirt, I get angry letters. And this is one of the NICER ones. Why is it that, when I wear my shirt with an American flag on it, I get ripped for DESECRATING the flag? But when I wear the shirt with the Confederate flag, I get ripped for CELEBRATING the flag? It's just a couple of goldurn FLAGS. I'm not making any STATEMENT.

I do appreciate the insight into your family hobbies. Skiing and drive-ins--can't go wrong with that combo. Even though I'm kinda confused, cause skiing's a daytime thing and drive-in movies are a night-time thing. But I'll let you work that out.

MAIL GIRL: They have night skiing now.

JB: Can't you see I'm trying to belittle the guy?

MAIL GIRL: Oh, sorry. But it is possible that they ski at night.

JB: You think the reason he doesn't go to the drive-in in the winter is because he's out NIGHT SKIING?

MG: Maybe.

JB: Okay, Aaron, you win. But I'm not making any promises on the shirt. [to Rusty] You know, when was the last time YOU got any hate mail?

MAIL GIRL: Um, I don't think I've gotten any.

JB: Then try not to take away what little joy I can eke out of it.

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #4

And so commence the many scenes of the four teens wandering around in the dark. I can never see a dang thing inside that funhouse -- maybe I need to turn up the brightness on my TV. And speaking of things you can't see, the TNT high sheriffs did a little scissoring a while back--I forgot to point it out earlier. There was a scene in there where the kids smoke a little Arkansas polio weed, which is where the bright idea of spending the night in the funhouse comes in. Sometimes I feel the high sheriffs miss out on little opportunities to educate, since these type movies so often contain messages, namely: drugs, fornication and not minding your daddy will cause the evil forces of nature to come down on you big time. All right, let's see exactly how that's gonna happen. Go.

[fading] What did we learn from the death of the fortune teller? Thou shalt not drink, prostitute thyself, or wear a garter belt over the age of 50, or thou shalt be killed by a pizza-face guy in a Frankenstein mask.

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #5

He's harmless -- once he's been fed. Great monster face, huh? Of COURSE, it was designed by Rick Baker, who only does EVERY movie these days with serious monster make-up in it. He didn't build the mask, though. The hands-on stuff was done by Craig Reardon, but Rick was the guy who came up with the cleft head motif. You remember in the freak show, how the baby in the formaldehyde had a cleft head? And there was a cow with a cleft palate, and another cow with two faces? It's all kinda thematically linked. If you really want to put it all together, remember the carnies in the parking lot telling the story about the guy having sex with the cow? I'm not gonna hit you over the head with this, just think about it, okay? All right, back to the flick.

[fading] What kinda teacher would I be if I just spelled everything out? If I just came right out and suggested that maybe the cow is the kid's mother? You know? Yuk, right? Yuk. All Tobe Hooper's movies are about genetics.

"The Funhouse" Commercial Break #6

How bout that drool and snot hanging off the monster's face? One thing Tobe Hooper does well is drool and snot. But most of his movies are remembered for one great image. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it's when Pam gets hung on the meat hook.

And in "The Funhouse," of course, it's that great shot of the ax to the head of Richie, played by Miles Chapin. And why does he get the accidental ax to the head? Because he's a GEEK. We have covered this before at great length, Carl Jung's rules of victimization: alcohol, drugs, sex, thievery, disregard for authority, and being a geek. And I believe Liz is dead. We didn't really get to see what was happening there, but I'm sure that giant 90-mile-an-hour rotor wasn't just incidental. Although you never know --this flick was filled with production problems, and they were rewriting the script as they went along. Which may explain why the little brother just kinda wanders around and never really DOES anything, and the fortune teller told Elizabeth Berridge that a tall, dark stranger will change her life, which could've been the monster--but the monster's a BLOND. All-in-all, the script here is pretty much a mess, but it's time for all-out Elephant Man Fu, which is all we care about, so roll it.

Exciting conclusion to "Funhouse."

[fading] Having the psycho father say that the baby in the formaldehyde was the monster's twin brother Tad -- that was supposedly a last-minute script addition by Tobe Hooper. I love that. Not the whole twin brother thing. The name "Tad." It's just an excellent name for a pickled fetus, isn't it? Tad. Tad's in the jar now, son, but we're still family.

"The Funhouse" Outro

And the poor monster boy is stabbed, beat with a crowbar, electrocuted, hung on a meathook, and squashed between giant gears. That's gotta hurt. He didn't really get to have his Elephant Man moment, did he? Where you feel sorry for him. I mean, you kinda feel sorry for him when his dad tells him never to call him "father" and all that, but then he just becomes Jason Vorhees for the rest of the flick. But that's the difference between Tobe Hooper and David Lynch. Tobe Hooper doesn't do the touching moment, because . . . well . . . because he's a snaggle-tooth white-haired screechy ugly Drool Monster who DESERVES to be cut in half at the waist.

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Basket Case

Host segment transcript for 4/3/99 broadcast 1999 Turner Network Television. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved