Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Arrow Video: 'The Funhouse' Blu Ray Review

Sometimes you fall in love with a movie right away. Half way through it you just think to yourself “Sold! This DVD is already bought”. Other times it isn’t until later that night in bed or the next day, after the movie has settled that you realize you can’t shake it. Sometimes, however, it takes multiple viewings, over the course of many years, and then one time, in the right mindset, everything falls into place and a movie will just “click”.
Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse was one of those movies for me. I had first picked up The Funhouse in 1992 from my favorite mom ‘n pop store, Reel Video. They were closing shop and selling off their inventory sans video boxes for $5 a pop. For my friends and me it was like finding One Eye Willie’s treasure as we made several trips a week and dug through the piles of dusty, old tapes. One sticky summer afternoon I picked up Summer Camp Nightmare and The Funhouse. After making the two mile bike ride back to my buddy’s house we popped it in the VCR. I enjoyed the film but it didn’t grab me the same way other favorite horror films of the era such as The Burning or Maniac had. I re-visited the film several times over the years via that well-worn VHS copy, then the Goodtimes DVD, and even two 35mm screenings. While I liked the film a lot I didn’t “love” it. It wasn’t until summer of 2006 while scanning my DVD rack for something to watch that I put it on again and it just clicked. Suddenly the movie just came alive for me—the rich carnival atmosphere, the odd characters, the unique monster and the mismatched group of early 80’s teens. It was like seeing the movie for the first time again, and along with Jaws it has become an annual summer must watch. Needless to say I was very excited when I heard Arrow Video would be releasing this in high definition blu ray in July.
If you have been following the UK’s Arrow Video than you know they have brought back the excitement of genre releases. I haven’t savored this type of anticipation since 1999-2001 era Anchor Bay. When I see Arrow has acquired a title I love, I know I am are going to get a release put together with care and brimming with extras. This release of The Funhouse is no different. The transfer is a definite upgrade from the previous Universal disc and in my opinion it even gives a lot of Arrow’s previous blu ray releases a run for their money. Presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio the picture is gorgeous, colors pop, the image is sharp and the grain is properly textured and film-like. Blacks are solid with no crushing. Beautiful.
It is in the bonus content where this release really shines. The previous Universal DVD’s sole extra was a theatrical trailer. Here we are treated to a bevy of extras including three audio commentaries (one with make-up artist Craig Reardon and Jeffery Reddick, one with the film’s producer Derek Power and one with Arrow’s own Calum Waddell and Justin Kerswell whose commentary is a very informative one on both The Funhouse and the 80’s horror genre in general), a 2004 era Q & A session with Hooper, interviews with Hooper, Mick Garris, Miles Chapin, an expansive behind the scenes still gallery, and the original trailer, even though it is not listed on the packaging. Yet again Arrow also includes the option of four different cover choices, a fold-out poster and collector booklet, all nicely housed in a window box slip cover. It should be noted that despite this release being listed as “region free” a number of the extras will not play on Sony Blu Ray players. But don’t let this discourage you, it is still worth the purchase or upgrade for the fantastic high-definition transfer and commentaries alone.
All in all Arrow has done a bang up job with this highly enjoyable and underappreciated gem of a film from one of horrors arguably greatest eras.

1 comment:

  1. Cool movie but very $$$ for some reason. $60 bucks on Amazon.