Friday, July 13, 2007

Popcorn (1991)

A fun slasher movie that’s heavy on the cheese and camp, Popcorn is a 1991 release but feels like it is straight outta the 80’s!

A group of film students are putting on an all night horrorthon in an old theater where 15 or so years ago a cult film director staged his final act by killing his family and setting the theater on fire. His body was never found, but many perished in the flames. Now, the students are going to convert the very same theater into hoppin’ party central!

The student are going to show three 50’s films – one in 3-D, one in aroma-vision and the other with rigged theater seats that will shock the audience! While preparations for the show are underway, Maggie (Jill Schoelen), one of the film students, keeps having trippy nightmares about “The Possessor.” Sure enough, “The Possessor” was the batty cult director’s last film.

When opening night rolls around, Maggie is convinced that the director is back and out to slaughter all those in attendance! The killer dons different masks that can make him look like anyone he wants to as he stalks and kills those in the packed theater. Maggie must uncover who the killer is and confront her past if she is to survive!

Popcorn is purely a fluff movie that is flawed but still manages to be fun and entertaining. Horror buffs will delight in the gags that the film students plan to accompany each horror movie they are showing, as well as the cheesy movies themselves! The renovation of the old theater is one of my favorite sequences and even though the movie looks pretty low budget, it looks like they spent a bundle on the wicked cool props for the theater. I soooo want a “Shock Clock” now!

My main complaint is that the film looks low budget – the picture is muddled, fuzzy and not very clear. I watch low budget films all the time, but I guess I just expected this one to have higher production values. I also thought that Maggie’s backstory was unnecessary and her nightmares that looked straight out of an Argento film didn’t fit in with the rest of the film’s visuals.

Also, while Jill Schoelen does a fantastic job in her role as Maggie, the rest of the cast is just…lacking. Either they don’t stand out enough or overact to the point of reducing me to giggles. There are some noteworthy “big names” in the film – Tony Roberts plays the students’ professor, Dee Wallace-Stone plays Maggie’s mother and Ray Walston (Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High) plays a benefactor.

As with this kind of movie, there are plot holes, weak performances, poor production values and, surprisingly for a slasher, very little blood splatter and not really any gore. Still, Popcorn is a charming film that should warm any horror fan’s heart. It’s the perfect film to curl up on the couch with. Just don’t forget to bring the popcorn!

Available on Amazon!

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