Hey guys, guys, you guys, let’s not think about how close my fortieth birthday is while I’m spending all this time thinking and blogging about teen horror novels written three decades ago during my first blush of youth, m’kay?
And that’s all I’m going to say about existential crises this week, because it’s time for some FUUUUN…house. Funhouse. 1990’s Funhouse by Diane Hoh, to be exact, also known as Point Horror #9. It’s just like the love potion, but with blood, blood, blood…and bits of sick. And let me tell you, Diane isn’t fucking around.
Tess Landers would always remember exactly where she was and what she was doing when The Devil’s Elbow roller coaster went flying off its track, shooting straight out into the air and hanging there for a few seconds, before giving into gravity and plummeting straight to the ground. The crash killed Dade Lewis, destroyed Sheree Buchanan’s face, and separated Joey Furman forever from his left leg.
Those, ladies and gentlemen, are the first two sentences on page one. So let’s dive right into this maelstrom of legless, faceless teen corpses, shall we?
I’d like to start off by telling you how our heroine du jour has just gotten a weird cash-in-hand job to pay for her prom dress or answered a creepily worded classified ad to catalog some old psycho’s library for mad benjamins, but none of those little plot movers apply here, because Tess’s family is rich. All of her friends are rich, too–the richest little Richies in town.
She and her friends all hang out at The Boardwalk, which their parents own, because it has cotton candy and games and funhouses and roller coaster tracks painted red with the blood of teenage carnage. And their parents fucking own it, so they must get free hot dogs or goldfish with short lifespans or something to make the sacrifice worthwhile.
So Tess and her friends witness a roller coaster literally leaving its tracks, flying into the air and leaving their friends either mutilated or dead, and what do they do? Have a birthday party at The Boardwalk, that’s what they do. They are not pussies, as we used to say in the nineties and try not to now but rarely succeed. Trouble is, incidents on The Boardwalk keep happening and kids keep getting hurt, almost as if these incidents aren’t accidents. Spoiler alert! They’re not.
In between Tess navigating her frankly worrisome home environment (she left her dad’s mansion to live with her stepmother when they split; her stepmother promptly flew off for an extended vacay in Europe, leaving seventeen-year-old Tess to fend for herself in a condo in the woods, which is totally plausible) and the entirely intentional hazards of The Boardwalk, we get glimpses into the mind of the killer and, well, it’s all a bit complicated.
Ha, ha, ha. Shredded tires. Now her car won’t go!
So we discover, in detail, why the killer is killing the wealthy townspeople’s offspring, but we never find out why Tess’s dad, whose name is Guy Joe, Sr., thought it would be just the best idea to name his son Guy Joe, Jr. And everyone actually calls him Guy Joe all the time like it’s nothing, like his very name name doesn’t pinpoint him as the crazed hillbilly serial killer child of suicides who’s been terrorizing them this whole time. Oh shit…did I just give it away? Never mind.
You haunt my dreams, Guy Joe.
I was a little worried about straying from my beloved Richie T.; I know I read other Point books back in the day, but I don’t remember much about them because I’m old now and tired and everything hurts all the time. Would I lose the comfort of familiarity? Be disappointed by the probable names? Turns out I had nothing to worry about. Thanks Diane.
I give Funhouse 3 Killer Clowns from Outer Space out of 5 for the odd mix of old-fashioned dialogue and gleeful teen-killing.
Next week on Pointless Horror: