The Funnyman
Dir: Simon Sprackling
Star: Tim James, Christopher Lee, Rhona Cameron, Benny Young
Cert / Year: 18 R / 1998
Format: VIDEO

The movie starts in a seedy little bar where a small group of men are losing terribly at poker to unscrupulous record executive Max Taylor (Benny Young) who choosing the joker as the wild card makes good use of it. In the last hand of the game as all the other players drop out Taylor is called and the stakes raised by mysterious newcomer Callum Chance (Christopher Lee) who places his ancestral home in England as collateral, Taylor matches Callums stake and they both show their cards. Callum however loses as Max reveals his final card to be the joker and wins.

Upon taking posession of the house Max and his wife Tina (Ingrid Lacey) whilst discussing their new home to go with the several around the world they already own, engage in some chemical abuse leaving their teenage daughter and sprog son to explore the house. In the meantime Max's "tubular brother" Johnny (Matthew Devitt) is transporting his belongings which he had been keeping in store for Max, to the house and picking up a motley crew of hitch-hikers along the way.

When Johnny reaches the house Max and his family are nowhere to be seen so as their car is parked in the drive, he along with the hitch-hikers unload the boxes before they all split up to go and look for the family. Unfortunately one of the hitch-hikers who appears to be some sort of voodoo preistess or psychic barmpot shoots up something dodgy into her hand and proceeds to yell into the house before going looking for a demon that she is convinced lives there.

What can I say, for me this movie is great it's funny, very dark and a little brutal. It is a film that is likened to a combination of Evil Dead and Monty Python which is a pretty good similarity. The humour is definately very British and a lot of it is Northern humour Funnyman (Tim James) himself has a broad Yorkshire accent and uses it to relate some good old Yorkshire sayings and pearls of wisdom whilst dispensing his unique form of poetic justice. The horror is reminiscent of the Evil Dead movies and is laced with some well placed Pythonesque situation comedy to boot, the characters are a stereotypical cross section including a university student, a hard man (football hooligan), two spoilt brats, (one of whom is a precocious teenage girl) and a token Yank who bears an uncanny resemblence to Thelma from the "Scooby Doo" cartoons. (amusingly played by Rhona Cameron)

The direction itself by new director Simon Sprackling (who also wrote the story) is good and the film has what can only be described as some Sam Raimi moments. The film manages to keep you both occupied and entertained at the same time, it is in places a little brutal and a bit gory but to be honest I couldn't help laughing. I feel that it is a good horror comedy in the vain of the later Evil Dead films and yet it is sufficiently different enough to be unique. The Funnyman himself can only be described as a bizarre fusion of demon, Mr Punch and a court jester whose cheeky and wicked sense of humour is evident as he pursues his own agenda which leads to ultimate retribution and an amusing twist or perhaps a sting in the tail.

Critically I must admit that a large section of a world audience perhaps wouldn't understand most of the humour and some of the dialogue (unless they have been to Rotherham of course) so in that respect it lets the film down a little as it won't have a wide appeal. Special effects although effective are a little cheap an cheerful which is a bit of a low point but the make-up effects for the Funnyman himself are very good. With this being a low budget British film most of the cast are comprised of British Television and comedy stars, which I would say adds more charm to the film but the appearance of an all time movie hero like Christopher Lee is a major bonus. A fabulous and highly cult British comedy horror film..... I love it!


It's like my old dad always used to say....."They don't like it up 'em! And he's right y'know ...they don't

I feel like I've died and gone to Rotherham

Rating: 3 out of 5

Reviewed by Logan Back Top Home