FOR TWENTY-FIVE YEARS IT GREW IN THE SHADOWS - TONIGHT IT WAITS FOR AMY IN...THE FUNHOUSE.
Tonight Amy and her friends are spending the night at the carnival. And whilst they enjoy all the fun of the fair they will visit the funhouse, a place for gondola rides, gory delights and midnight terror.
But there is an unspeakable Evil waiting for Amy in the dark labyrinths of the funhouse, a secret Evil that began twenty-five years ago, when a lonely woman destroyed her monstrous offspring, and a violently disturbed man vowed to exact his terrible revenge.
Now it's Amy's turn to keep her date with horror as she enters the funhouse for - A CARNIVAL OF TERROR!
From the old board (and presumably a later edition)
The Funhouse - 1980 (based on a screenplay by Larry Block) Afterword 1992. More than likely some SPOILERS. A few comments from DKs Afterword - he accepted the novelisation job as he was intrigued by the challenge of turning a screenplay into a 'real' novel - and was offered more money than he had been for his 'proper' novels - he wasn't a best-selling author circa 1980. He thought the screenplay was good, but wouldn't make more than 10 or 20 per cent of a novel, and proceeded to write four fifths of a book, then bring in the screenplay. Its too long since I've seen the film (it's available in the US, but not here) and a quick Google of reviews backs up DKs comments. The book is just over 300 pages long and Part Three 'The Funhouse' kicks in on page 229. The Prologue concerns Ellen Straker. Browbeaten by her religious fanatic mother, she's run away to join the Carnival, and hooked up with handsome, virile, smooth-talking Carney barker Conrad Straker - who runs the Funhouse (what we in Britain would probably call the Ghost Train). It seems a life of constant change and excitement appeals to Ellen - she and Conrad celebrate a Carney wedding and, a little while later, Ellen gives birth - to a monstrosity. Conrad's quite taken with his son, Victor, but to Ellen it's horrifying and evil. She gets plastered on vodka one night and after a vicious punch-up, manages to slay the little horror. Conrad is a little taken aback when he strides in, and doles out a beating to Ellen - then throws her out into the rain., swearing a terrible vengeance. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, he will hunt her down and, if she has more children, he will take them as she has taken his son. This was 1955. Fast forward to 1980 and the book proper. Ellen has remarried - a lawyer who works long hours and spends his time building layouts for his model trains when at home. They have two children; 10 year old Joey, a horror obsessive who likes playing practical jokes on his 17 year old sister Amy. Amy is going to her school prom where she is to tell her current boyfriend that she's pregnant. This doesn't go down too well, and he dumps her. Ellen has developed into a hard-drinking religious nutcase. The trauma of bearing two children after the horror of her first born seems to have unhinged her. Although Joey and Amy are physically perfect , Ellen feels they may harbour evil within. Despite her devout Catholicism, she agrees to Amy having an abortion to avoid her daughter giving birth to an hideous creature (although Amy doesn't know this). In the intervening years, Conrad also remarried (for a short time) to carney kootchie girl Zena, who bore him another son - Gunther. Gunther has reached maturity and is a large, strong, slavering monster who has discovered girls - especially raping and disembowelling them. Conrad's Funhouse has increased in size and Gunther works there, done up as a Frankenstein monster. When Conrad's not running the Funhouse or his other concession stands, he's getting Zena (now fortune teller Madame Zena) to pump youngsters for information hoping against hope to track down offspring of his former wife and extract a horrible revenge on them - with the aid of Gunther, or cleaning up the blood and offal of Gunther's latest victims. As the book draws to a close, the carnival comes to Royal City, Ohio, home of Amy and Joey - both of whom turn up at the carnival, and are recognised by Straker...
Koontz has done a great job here. No simple copying out of the script, but a a genuine novel. Fun, scarey, bloodthirsty in parts. My words above don't really do it justice but it's well worth a look.
Saw the film not that long ago. Not bad at all, but there's more to the novel.
Blurb: The carnival is a world apart, endlessly shifting from town to town, providing thrills and magic for a new set of kids every week. And the biggest, most popular attraction is the Funhouse - the ghoulish creepshow full of ghosts and skeletons and rattling chains and make-believe terror... Young Amy Harper is the most beautiful girl at her school, desired by all the boys, but to her life seems wretched.
Terrorised by her mother and abandoned by her boyfriend, Amy feels that only her young brother, Joey, provides the love and friendship she needs.
As for Joey, he too lives in fear of his mother, a woman whose days are regulated by religious observance and whose nights are ruled by the bottle and drunken confessions of a past too terrible for young Joey to comprehend. So, when the carnival comes to town, it's no wonder he plans to join up and run away.
Both Amy and Joey fall under the carry spell, unaware that their mother's secrets are buried here and that vengeance for past deeds lies in wait for them in the harmless make-believe world of... the Funhouse.
This book was originally published under the pseudonym Owen West. This is the first British Commonwealth paperback edition under the author's real name.
Belted through this one day last week and can only agree with FM that it's a cracking good read. Ellen (the Hellfire-preaching drunken version) and Jerry Galloway (Amy Harper's odious boyfriend) aside, the characters are sympathetic, even likeable, far more so than Susan, heroine of the original Demon Seed. Even Conrad Straker, otherwise the personification of 'evil', treats his fellow Carney folk well and is genuinely heartbroken at the death of Victor, the monster-son.
Gunther is a terrifying creation. A lumbering, moronic giant with no concept of good or evil, living in the shadow of his dead brother. As much as he knows Dad will always clean up after him, still he realises Victor will always be the the old man's favourite. The knowledge tears him apart if not quite as literally as he tears attractive young women apart once he's done with them.
The film novelization aspect doesn't kick off until right at the end and it's tight, suspenseful stuff with some very decent shocks along the way, Koontz re-imagining some of the screen deaths to suit his vision. Maybe they should remake The Funhouse with a screenplay based on DRK's version?
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
I saw the film at the cinema on its release and bought the book shortly afterwards. I think I read it once and don't remember that much about it, except that it was okay. The film I thought was not bad on the big screen, but when I saw it on video a while later I was disappointed. By then I was heavily into gory slashers and its relative lack of blood was a put-off at the time. The cinema atmosphere definitely helped and the title sequence really impressed me.