THE FUNNYMAN is a wholly pointless exercise in special effects and self-indulgent humor along the lines of the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films. How many times must filmmakers conjure up evil entities in spooky old houses? The superior production design is all that keeps THE FUNNYMAN from
earning the lowest possible rating.
At a high-stakes poker game, record producer Max Taylor (Benny Young) wins the ancestral mansion of mysterious Callum Chance (Christopher Lee). Visiting England with his wife and two children, he decides to have a look at his new acquisition. Following in a van with some of Max's belongings is his
brother Johnny (Matthew Devitt), a former rock guitarist now reduced to doing errands for his successful sibling.
In the house's game room, Max spins a dial whose needle lands on "Lose." He and his family separate to explore the rest of the house, not knowing that the dial has revived a supernatural creature with the costume and appearance of a grotesque harlequin. The Funnyman kills Max's wife, son, and
daughter before incapacitating Max by use of a hypnotic cassette tape.
Johnny arrives at the house along with four hitchhikers he has picked up on the way. One by one, they are lured into imaginary scenarios by the Funnyman and killed. Chance, who has been glimpsed peering at the audience throughout these events, is shown building houses of cards in an insane asylum.
If nothing else, THE FUNNYMAN is extremely British. It's hard enough to follow the film given a cast of characters who mutter in indecipherable accents. But the situations in which the titular bogeyman engages his victims are so particularly British that it seems a bit unfair to judge it by
This effort offers neither enough gruesome special effects to satisfy the Fangoria crowd, nor a minimum of story and characterizations to hold the attention of more discerning viewers. It also must be noted that the top-billed Christopher Lee makes little more than a guest appearance. (Graphicviolence, nudity, sexual situations, adult situations, substance abuse, profanity.)
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