Popcorn (1991)

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There’s good and there’s bad and then somewhere in between there’s Popcorn. Released long after the golden era of the slasher boom, Porky’s star Mark Herrier’s tongue-in-cheek directorial debut mixes ’50′s schlock with ’80′s splatter with mixed results. Made on an almost non-existent budget with the help of Black Christmas director Bob Clark, who acted as producer alongside long time collaborator Alan Ormsby, Popcorn would feature such recognisable genre faces as Dee Wallace-Stone (The Howling) and Kelly Jo Minter (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child). Based on an idea by Mitchell Smith and written by Ormsby, who would walk from the director’s chair after only a few weeks, the story centred around a group of film students who host an all night horrorthon of ’50′s B-movies whilst a psycho stalks the theatre in typical slasher fashion.

The movie opens with an awful dream sequence which features the usual clich├ęs and slow motion effects, which immediately screams ‘TV movie’ at you. Much of the music is somewhat dubious as well, which makes Popcorn seem like it was made in the early ’80′s (and that is not means as a compliment). And despite all its Ingmar Bergman and Orson Welles references, this is as dumb as horror gets, although its urge to homage old gimmicks in the style of William Castle does add a playful touch. It is difficult to tell whether the filmmakers were aiming for something a little more intelligent but its difficult production caused problems or if it was their intention all along to deliver possibly the most amateur slasher since The Dorm That Dripped Blood.

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Had Ormsby directed the movie, instead of being replaced by the inexperienced Herrier, then things may have worked out differently. After all, Ormsby had already balanced horror and slapstick humour with the zombie classic Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (co-directed by Clark), which proved far more effective. He is a bizarre individual who could have been more than capable of rising this effort above its mediocre result. What is perhaps most frustrating is that somewhere amongst the mess there is a decent concept here, that has been simply reduced to a run-of-the-mill straight-to-video effort.

But some of Ormsby’s magic touch did remain in the finished movie, as the clips of the old films that are shown at the horror festival were a result of his few weeks on set. In fact, this film-within-a-film technique conjures up another movie of the era, Joe Dante’s Matinee, which was far superior in every way. Still, this aspect adds a little style to what could have been a total disaster. This isn’t to say that Popcorn is unwatchable – it certainly ranks in the ‘so bad it’s good’ category – but what stings the most is how this could have been so much more. Instead, it’s a curious piece that slasher completists should track down and everyone else keep their distance from.

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Popcorn (DVD)

Director: Alan Ormsby, Mark Herrier
Starring: Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall, Malcolm Danare
Rating: R (Restricted)

List Price: $9.98 USD
New From: $88.88 In Stock
Used from: $44.00 In Stock
Release date September 4, 2001.
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10 Responses to “ Popcorn (1991) ”

  1. I’m effing O.D’ing on awesome movies!

    Stop Christian – Stop!

  2. Popcorn is a fun, really underrated movie. I enjoy it a lot. I believe it was filmed in Jamaica of all places. It is a little uneven at times, but overall it is well worth your time. Besides it stars Jill Schoelen who was the queen of the cute teen heroine in the late 80s-early 90s.

  3. I wouldn’t mind a special edition DVD of Popcorn. This was a different kind of horror movie and I think it played off well. While the death scenes were cool, it still had a 50′s drive-in vibe to it once the main action took place in the theater.

  4. The horror taking place in a cinema reminded me of Demons and, to a lesser extent, Joe Dante’s Matinee.

  5. I love this movie. I am a big fan of Ormsby but think Herrier does a good job. Plus, both were confidants of Bob Clark. Neat.

  6. I dig this movie, got the dvd. I am a sucker for claustrophobic horror movies. Something about the cast being trapped with the killer(s) appeals to me.

  7. My wife and I love this film. we are huge fans of obscure films that are different from the norm and ‘Popcorn’ certainly is that. sure its not absolutely perfect, but what film is. it’s about as perfect as it can be, and that’s enough. its a great homage to the past, especially to William Castle, and the film within a film stuff was great. plus, you can see the cast are having a great time, its a fun film that stays with you long after the credits have rolled.

  8. I like this one. Like a modern, movie themed PHANTOM OF THE OPERA story. And directed by Mark Herrier, who played Billy on PORKY’S. That’s just awesome. He should’ve directed more horror films.

  9. im glad i bought this around 10.00 years ago!! such a odd but entertaing horror flick. i wish wish the dvd was remastered

  10. I’m really excited about the new dvd release of this movie. You can pre-order it now on best buys website.

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