‘Razing the Bar’: an insider’s look at Funhouse club in Seattle
A review of “Razing the Bar,” a documentary about the rise and fall of the Funhouse, a seminal Seattle punk club. It received four stars out of four.
Special to The Seattle Times
Movie Review ★★★★
‘Razing the Bar,’ a documentary directed by Ryan Worsely. 80 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Grand Illusion, through Thursday.
A love letter to a Seattle institution, “Razing the Bar” chronicles the demolition of the Funhouse punk-rock club, a venue known for its raucous entertainment and the large sinister clown face that hung ominously over its front door.
First-time director Ryan Worsely conducted more than 50 interviews and drew on her own footage from years spent filming and photographing bands at the club, to create a passionate, insider’s look at the Funhouse’s rise and fall.
There’s a bit of history, too. The space first opened in the 1940s as Tex’s Tavern, “known as a place that served the underage drinker,” as Funhouse co-owner Cyndi Foss fondly recalls. Tex’s then became Zak’s Saloon, with a reputation for wildness. Stability returned when new owners took over and renamed the club the Funhouse, with that scary clown face installed “to scare off the people that shouldn’t be there and to entice people that wanted to be there,” as co-owner Bobby Kuckelberg explains.
With co-owner Brian Foss handling the booking, the Funhouse became one of the best rooms in town for independent acts that didn’t have enough of a draw to fill larger spaces. Local acts such as Primate 5, the Fabulous Downey Brothers, and the Spits, and such punk stalwarts as the Avengers, Flipper, and the Dwarves all played the club.
“I think the Funhouse really was more than a venue. It was a breeding ground of creativity,” says the Fastback’s Kurt Bloch.
The film also makes clear that the club bred a real sense of community among its patrons, making its ultimate demise — it was torn down in favor of new condos — especially poignant.
Gillian G. Gaar: email@example.com