The Funhouse Massacre Blu-ray Review

Robert Englund leads a fine ensemble cast in this bloody funny slasher

Direct-to-video horror is always a crapshoot. The films are usually made on a shoestring budget by inexperienced filmmakers. I worried The Funhouse Massacre would be one such movie when the credits began and I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Andy Palmer’s The Funhouse Massacre thankfully has nothing to do with Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse, which was dated dreck even when it was first released in 1981. On Halloween night, a group of escaped homicidal maniacs terrorize a haunted house amusement park by impersonating its staff and killing visitors in a frenzied reign of blood. The Funhouse Massacre has a derivative premise but is a ton of fun for horror fans with its sharply drawn characters and memorably outlandish serial killers.

The Funhouse Massacre is made for horror buffs who like a few laughs mixed in with their blood and guts. I’m guessing most viewers will check it out for Robert Englund’s heavily advertised presence, but his role isn’t particularly large or important, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie has a veteran cast sprinkled with a range of recognizable character actors. Scottie Thompson, Jere Burns, Clint Howard, Courtney Gains, even Chasty Ballesteros (and her one nude scene) – the cast offers experienced pros with semi-recognizable faces in this ensemble of horror comedy. You may not know those names, but heavy movie watchers will likely recognize their faces. Andy Palmer and crew didn’t cast local nobodies or high school friends for important roles, which is always a problem in low-budget horror.

This is a bloody slasher with memorable new characters, ones I hope to see again in a possible sequel.

The Funhouse Massacre succeeds as a film due to its execution in all phases a horror film needs. Impressive make-up and bloody special effects? Yep, the film is drenched with great death scenes in fairly unique scenarios. Paying homage to prior horror tropes without getting too cute about it? Yes again, layered with fun takes on a litany of horror cliches, from the bumbling police deputy to the horny couple. Memorable horror villains? The clear break-out star in The Funhouse Massacre has to be a female killer that goes by Dollface. She’s a clear Harley Quinn rip-off, if that DC comic book character was an insane slasher. Other killers include a mad dentist who likes drilling through his patient’s head and a truly giant ex-wrestler dressing as a clown.

Filmed in Ohio at Land of Illusion, a haunted house attraction, the movie is a bit of a throwback with its roots in ’90s horror. Older viewers will definitely get the nods to prior movies in the genre. Moving with brisk pacing, the narrative never bogs or slows down. It opens quickly and really moves once the protagonists, the staff from a local diner, visit the funhouse. There are some laughs along the way, though it’s not in-your-face humor. The funnier stuff is sprinkled throughout in a smart, unassuming manner.

I don’t think The Funhouse Massacre will convert anyone opposed to horror in general, but it’s a solid horror movie with a lighter touch. I hesitate to call it a pure horror comedy, as that label has often turned me off in the past. This is a bloody slasher with memorable new characters, ones I hope to see again in a possible sequel. Slogging through as many direct-to-video horror movies as I have in recent years, The Funhouse Massacre is a breath of fresh air. This is crisp filmmaking with a solid script and talented cast.

The Funhouse Massacre Blu-ray screen shot 15

Video

Scream Factory gives The Funhouse Massacre a nearly brilliant Blu-ray presentation. Shot on the Arri Alexa, the 1080P video sparkles with razor-sharp definition and beaming clarity. The main feature runs 90 minutes and is shown at its intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Released on a BD-50, the AVC video encode is a high-bitrate affair that transparently renders the digital transfer taken from the movie’s digital intermediate.

The digital cinematography is polished with inky black levels. Most of the time it is clear with impressive amounts of fine detail. Hints of grittier noise show up in a few isolated scenes.

Close-ups are fantastic with unfiltered clarity, revealing excellent dimensionality and depth. This is a well made production that takes full advantage of the Alexa’s full capabilities, practically marking it as demo material for horror fans.

Audio

A fairly active sound design with clean audio fidelity marks this 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack. It’s a lively music experience, spread over a spacious soundstage. The killer soundtrack is a vital part of the movie’s success, packed with energy and the right ambience.

The surround experience offers several discrete moments and channel separation is heavily used. A stereo 2.0 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is included as a secondary offering.

Optional English SDH subtitles display in a white font, inside the scope framing at all times.

Extras

The big selections are two separate commentaries, one done in a picture-in-picture style. Interested fans should probably check out the Popcorn Talk PIP commentary.

Production Diaries (05:35 in HD) – Video from the set with cast and crew members showing up in brief sightings.

A Day On Set (03:15 in HD) – Rough clips of a shoot from the film.

The Funhouse Massacre Trailer (02:20 in HD)

Bite Trailer (01:25 in HD) – Precedes the main menu.

Popcorn Talk Watchalong (93:34 in HD) – Director Andy Palmer and writers/actors Renee Dorian and Ben Begley discuss making the film as they watch it. This is basically a commentary, though it is shown as picture-in-picture video. Dorian and Begley are married and wrote the movie together. This is a lively, informative discussion packed with interesting background material.

Audio Commentary – Director Andy Palmer and Clint Howard, Courtney Gains and Warner Davis participate in this loose discussion. There is far too much gawking over what is happening and the conversation tends to peter out at times.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray disc. Images have not been altered in any way during the process. Patreon supporters were able to access these screens early, view them as .pngs, and gain access to exclusive shots.