Written by: Michael Den Boer on June 4th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: UK, 1994
Director: Simon Sprackling
Cast: Ingrid Lacey, Pauline Black, Rhona Cameron, Christopher Lee, Chris Walker, Matt Devitt, Tim James, George Morton, Benny Young
DVD released: May 30th, 2006
Approximate running time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo
DVD Release: Subversive Cinema
Region Coding: Region 1 NTsc
Retail Price: $19.95
Max Taylor (Benny Young) is a record producer who wins a ancestral British estate while playing a friendly game of cards with a man named Callum Chance (Christopher Lee). Max and his wife and children move into Callum’s quaint estate and shortly there after they are brutally murdered by an entity know as Funny Man (Tim James). Meanwhile Max’s brother Johnny is en-route to Callum’s place and along the way he has picked up a few hitchhikers’. Will any of them be able to escape funny man’s murderous rampage or will he have the last laugh?
Simon Sprackling’s Funny Man is a murder by numbers affair in which the killer dispose of each victim in different and inventive ways. The plot after the initial set which leads to why each person is going to Callum Chance’s estate is well done and believable. Then the movie totally shifts gears once “Funny Man” who is played by Tim James arrives on the scene. The plot is then thrown out the window as the rest of the film becomes a succession of murders. Tim James is delightful in the lead role and one can’t but help being caught up in (Funny Man’s) enthusiasm as he gleefully dispatches each victim. Also let’s not forget Christopher Lee’s grand return to the horror genre while it is nice to see him return to the genre that made him. His role in Funny Man is all too brief and leaves you wanting to know more about his character Callum Chance and his connection to the Funny Man.
Bold primary colors and a funhouse looking set of diabolical horrors would best describe the world that Funny Man lives in. Director Simon Sprackling does an admirable job directing the film even though his technique and pacing do leave a lot to be desired. Despite these shortcomings his commitment to this project and desire to see things through at any cost makes up for the things he lacks as a first time director. Don’t go into Funny Man excepting a straight forward horror film the comedy bits which there are a lot of in this film are mostly tongue and cheek. Funny Man is filled with gory deaths that are nothing more then that because all the victims are characters that are hard to sympathize with.
Who or what exactly is Funny Man is never really explained and more back story on the character would have gone a long way in helping the films overall lack of depth. Horror comedies tend to get overlooked for too often by Horror fans that go in excepting the usual blood and guts and often leave disappointed when the comedy overshadows these two ingredients. Funny Man in many respects falls into this trap. Overall Funny Man is enjoyable if uneven affair whose parts never add up to its sum.
Subversive Cinema presents Funny Man in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. The image has been cleaned up and colors look vibrant. One minor complaint about the transfer is that the image looks to soft and details lack clarity because of this. There are no problems with compression or artifacts and edge enhancement is kept to a minimum.
This release comes with one audio option a Dolby Digital stereo mix in English. Dialog is clear and music and effects sound balanced. There are no problems with hiss, distortion or any other sounds defects.
Extras for this release include trailers for the original short version of Funny Man and a trailer for the full length theatrical release. A pop video about Funny Man has also been included. Other extras include a brief three minute interview with Christopher Lee and a twenty three minute featurette titled “Sorting Funnyman”. The original short film which served as the bias for what would later become the feature length film Funny Man has been included. Even though many of the scenes may feel familiar the overall mood of the piece is drastically different then the feature length version of Funny Man. Rounding out the extras is an audio commentary with Simon Sprackling and Tim James. Finally Subversive Cinema has included Simon Sprackling’s production diary which has been reproduced for the eight page booklet included with this release.
Subversive Cinema continues to release definitive editions’ of some of cinema’s most obscure oddities’. There Funny Man release is a spectacular release that comes with a wealth extras’ which compliment the outstanding audio/video presentation.
For more information about Funny Man visit Subversive Cinema here.