Remembering Tobe Hooper’s TV version of ‘The Funhouse’ with bonus footage


Days after Tobe Hooper’s passing, 1428 Elm is looking at the director’s 1981 classic, ‘The Funhouse’. Pay to get in. PRAY to get out.


Remember the good ole days 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? This my friends is how I first viewed The Funhouse.

With just the right amount of ominous static and bonus scenes that I never saw again until twenty years later.

image via Giphy

In the wake of the recent unexpected passing of a legendary giant in the genre Tobe Hooper, I felt it best to honor the icon. An icon who not only forever left an foot imprint inside Texas, but the world, with his terrifying on-screen visions with the first time I had ever seen his underrated 1981 classic.


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.


Image via Movie GIF

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.

You may be asking yourself, “How exactly do you remember all these details from close to 30 years ago?”  Well, Halloween and the horror genre are treated as a religion by me. Some may call it a weird choice, but Hooper’s Funhouse has become one of my top go-to comfort films. It’s somewhat like the saying, “You always remember your first kiss.” Well folks, I remember my first time seeing Gunther.


Image via Giphy

Anyway, as some of you may or may know, 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.

Check it out in all its oh so retro glory!

Next: The Ingeniousness of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2

Are you a fan of The Funhouse? If you have any fond (yet horrific) memories of seeing Gunther for the first time, share your story in the comments section below.