Horror’s Haunted Attractions
Byon Jun 8, 2012
The legendary Jeffrey Combs joins the fun as the crazed horror mogul Walston Rey in this week’s Chiller TV premiere, Dark House. The film is an atmospheric, creepfest about Rey’s plans to turn the Old Darrode House (where a bunch of kids were murdered) into a haunted house attraction. Combs is an over-the-top joy to watch and he brings his usual sense of fun to an otherwise average flick. Dark House is, however, another film in a long line of horror movies that features a haunted attraction so we decided to run down some of the best and most memorable. What’s your favorite?
THIRTEEN GHOSTS (2001)
This 2001 remake of William Castle’s 1960 film 13 Ghosts takes the original concept, ups the gore quotient, and becomes one of the most underrated horror flicks of the past decade. It’s not a great film, but it’s an endlessly watchable movie with some really cool set pieces and it features one of the coolest haunted house attractions ever. Oh, yeah, and some super creepy ghosts.
THE FUNHOUSE (1981)
Some horror fans might downplay the awesomeness of this 1981 film in Tobe Hooper’s oeuvre, but trust me when I say that this is one of the coolest genre films of the 1980’s. The Funhouse is all kinds of dark and totally ridiculous in the best possible way. It boasts some really fun performances from the four main teenagers and is easily one of the best prototypical carnival films in horror history.
CARNIVAL OF SOULS (1962)
Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls has become a cult classic and it’s no surprise why: The independently produced horror film features genuine scares, insanely creepy imagery, and a stellar performance by Candace Hilligoss. It has influenced everyone from David Lynch to George A. Romero, and you can see that influence in numerous films both inside and outside of the horror genre. The carnival in Carnival of Souls might not be a functioning fun house, but it sure is a scary place to be when it’s filled with ghosts.
SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES (1983)
I miss the days when Disney produced really creepy, dark films like Something Wicked This Way Comes and The Watcher in the Woods. Based on the classic novel by Ray Bradbury, the film tells the tale of Mr. Dark (Jonathan Pryce) and his devious plans to use his mysterious and evil carnival to lure everyone in town to their demise by promising to fulfill all their childhood wishes. Of course, those wishes have horrifying results. Something Wicked This Way Comes is still as creepy today as it was when I saw it as a child.
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? (TV) (1990) – “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark”
One of the best genre shows ever, Are You Afraid of the Dark? may have been geared toward kids and teenagers, but it still always managed to pack plenty of creepy into each episode. In “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark,” the local tough guy decides that he wants to impress his friend and sister by stealing the nose off Zeebo the Clown – the supposed ghost that haunts the fun house. Tough guy pulls it off, but soon realizes that Zeebo isn’t quite what he expected.
GHOULIES II (1998)
Even though Gremlins is one of my favorite films of all time, I still have a special place in my heart for all the films that basically took Joe Dante’s concept, ripped it off, and created their own similar creatures. I love the Critters series and the Ghoulies series isn’t far behind on my list of awesomely bad horror flicks. Ghoulies II finds the toilet-loving beasts tagging along in a carnival House of Horrors funhouse attraction called Satan’s Den. They basically tear it up and start killing off people while unsuspecting customers cheer them on thinking they’re part of the act. Classic Ghoulies!
-- Scott Neumyer is a Freelance Writer, Publicist and Photographer. He has written for Maxim.com Complex.com, FEARnet.com, IFC.com, Movies.com, and more. You can find him online at scottwrites.com and on Twitter @scottneumyer.