Movie Review:Popcorn

Posted: May 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Popcorn

1991

directed by Mark Herrrier

As I said last week with my Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome review, I’m going to use this blog to review Slasher, Noir, Pulp, Detective and Grindhouse cinema. I thought this week I would go with a slasher movie of sorts, especially since today is Friday the 13th, an important day for slasher film fans. It’s weird being a fan of slasher films as well as vintage horror. When you’re a gorehound, your tastes can get dulled over time, but when you’re a vintage horror fan, you’ve seen enough good stuff that you have to high standards to set apart the best of the best from movies that are simply old. Then again, fans of both genres are subject to favoritism and nostalgia and often cling to subpar movies for sentimental reasons or just because it’s what they watch. I think it’s important to build up a knowledge of the genre of the best and worst out there, so you approach it with something other than blind favoritism. I like slasher movies, but the vast majority of them simply aren’t very good and today’s entry is no exception.

Popcorn possesses some of the traits of a good slasher movie, humor, metacinema and clever kills. All of the best slasher movies have these and had since the beginning. Ever since William Castle built the Coward’s Corner outside showings of Homicidal to interview people that walked out of the film this has been so. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre used documentary techniques to change how we looked at violence. Lucio Fulci’s Cat in the Brain used stock footage hallucination to examine what it’s like to live with horror. Good kills and selfaware smirks are the lifeblood of the slasher genre.

Popcorn is the story of  Maggie (Jill Schoelen) of a young woman who has been having strange nightmares in which she is a girl named Sarah who witnesses bits and pieces of a ritual sacrifice. She has been writing down these dreams in hopes of making use of them in her screenplay. As she’s trying to unravel the mysteries of her dreams, her film program decides to put on a horror movie triple feature, complete with William Castle style gimmicks. Just as William Castle put buzzers under seats to deliver electric shocks to theater patrons during The Tingler, seats are rigged up to electrocute people during The Amazing Electrified Man, during giant bug schlocker Mosquito, a remote controlled mosquito is to fly over the audience and during Japanese Green Slime manque The Stench, odors are pumped in through the vents.  This is all with the help of a flamboyant slumming Ray Walston, who is obviously the best actor in this movie by leaps and bounds.

As they are setting up this film festival, they come across a canister of footage showing a short film that shows the ritual sacrifice that Maggie keeps seeing in her dreams. Turns out the film ended with its director, the enigmatic and dogmatic Lanyard Gates, slaughtering his family at the premiere, during which the theater it was shown at was burnt down. And Maggie’s mother seems to have some connection to Gates. If the film, entitled “Possessor” were a little scarier or the entire content of Popcorn, Popcorn might work a little better. But it isn’t and between the low quality of the experimental and evil film and the low quality of this movie’s acting and writing, Popcorn doesn’t…pop.

The film festival the students set up is cool. It made me want to attend the film festival instead of watching this drek. The kills involving a professor impaled in the remote controlled mosquito, an electrified wheelchair bound overweight jackass a la Franklin from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the face switching villain are all great kills. If the killer himself were interesting and not revealed half an hour from the end of this 91 minute movie and if the movie parodies were better contrived and more respectful to the source material, I could almost recommend watching Popcorn. I can’t. Popcorn is stale, scattered and not scary. 4/10

Some better slasher choices for your Friday the 13th:

Opera

Tenebre

Don’t Open Til Christmas

Friday the 13th Part 4

Pieces

Comments
  1. Lee Widener says:

    Haven’t seen this one, but despite you’re not recommending it, I think I would like to- just for the homage to Castle style gimmicks.

  2. garrettcook says:

    The Castle homage is nice. I think you’d enjoy it for the film festival aspect and since you’re going in warned about the poor quality of the actual movie that surrounds it, you might end up enjoying it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s