Tuesday, October 18, 2016
COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN BLOGPOST #18: A GREAT HORROR MOVIE THAT'S UNAVAILABLE (unless you scrounge around YouTube)
In 1991 a funny little horror movie came and went without much success. It was sporadically available on home video, and as of today it's unavailable via an official release. Critical reception was mixed, and it gets middling ratings on assorted websites. For a handful of genre fans, however, it's a beloved homage to classic old horror, as well as a pretty funny slasher flick. That movie is Popcorn, and you've lived long enough without it.
Popcorn tells the story of Maggie (Jill Schoelen), a young film student that has been having recurring dreams about a young girl trapped in a fire and pursued by a killer. She records her dreams with the hope that she can make a film out of it. At the same time, her film department is looking to drum up some publicity and funds for a permanent editing space. Her classmate Toby (played by a typically goofy Tom Villard) plans the event with the help of film memorabilia collector Dr. Mnesyne (played by film legend Ray Walston).
What follows is a fun movie about loving movies, particularly the old gimmicky presentations of William Castle. There's smell-o-vision, props flying over the crowd, and buzzer rigged seats to shock the audience members of the festival. During the festival the film students are also being killed off one by one. Who is doing it? Why the film students? Could it have anything to do with the weird ant garde film they're showing called Possessor that reportedly shows actual murder? I'd love to give you the answers, but that would ruin the surprise.
Popcorn was released at the tail end of a Horror boom. The Nightmare On Elm Street movies were on their last gasp, Friday the 13th had hit its 8th chapter, and horror franchises in general were struggling. Popcorn came and went without much notice, which is unfortunate, because it's a good time. It's campy, funny, and its kills inventively tie in with the horror film festival. Not to give away any spoilers, but the killer bites it in a particularly goofy way. Popcorn doesn't go full meta like Scream, but in some ways it signals that trend, which would ultimately usher in a new era of Horror films.
As I said earlier, it has been unavailable as a legitimate home video release for a while, but thankfully we have YouTube to fill in the gaps for us. Have fun!