I sometimes wonder about the films that released on the year that I was born. 1991 was only 2 years after the 80s had finished. Therefore, the majority of horror movies still had elements that were synonymous with that decade. However, the aspects that you’d expect to see in a horror film from the 90s were starting to creep in. This would deliver something that was almost a combination of the two. Popcorn is a really good example of this idea. It’s a horror/comedy slasher film that was directed by Mark Herrier and written by Alan Ormsby.
Film student and aspiring screenwriter Maggie Butler has recurring dreams of a young girl named Sarah who is caught in a fire and being chased by a strange man who is trying to kill her. She records what she remembers on an audiotape and plans on making the story into a film. Maggie’s classmate Toby has an idea to put on an all-night horror movie marathon to raise funds for the university’s film department. They set up shop in the Dreamland theatre, which is to be razed in three weeks.
Toby enlists the help of the owner of a film memorabilia shop with deploying promotional gimmicks. There are three main films within the film: Mosquito is a 3D film, The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man uses a “Shock-o-Scope” gimmick (electrical “buzzers” in seats), and The Stench uses Odorama.
As they go through trunks of equipment, they find a short cult film called Possessor that resembles Maggie’s dreams. Lanyard Gates, the film’s director, killed his own family while shooting the final scene before setting the theatre on fire, trapping the audience inside. Maggie soon becomes obsessed with Possessor and tries to figure out why she has been dreaming about it.
The night of the festival arrives but can Maggie discover the truth about her mysterious dreams? A face stealing killer is on the loose and intends on making it a night to remember.
Popcorn is the type of film that just doesn’t get made any more. Interestingly, the movie theatre that was used is located in Jamaica. That raised a bunch of questions in my mind. There are actually a number of interesting trivial facts about the film and its troublesome production.
Firstly, I love the premise. I really liked the idea of using the gimmicks, it’s very unique. At the same time, this gave it an opportunity to pay homage to horror movies from decades prior. The ones that they show are actually really entertaining. It makes Popcorn something of an anthology as well as everything else. Also, the aesthetic and scenery throughout the theatre is just wonderful.
With such a solid base to work from, what could go wrong? Well, there’s a few reasons why you likely haven’t heard of Popcorn. Many of the actors that appear in the film did little else if anything at all. Unfortunately, that was for the best. Their performances can best be described as flat, very flat. Maggie is a very bland main character and is ultimately just a pawn in the whole story.
Also, this a big one. I found Popcorn to be very tame in terms of blood and gore. As a result, there’s nothing memorable at all in that department, it’s very disappointing. The scenario is ripe for a bunch of people to get killed in over the top ways but it doesn’t really happen. There are deaths but nothing to write home about. How this film was rated R, I will never know.
This is supposed to be a horror comedy but it doesn’t deliver in terms of comedy either. Maggie has a boyfriend who’s a complete buffoon. He bumps his head a bunch of times and says things that will make your brain hurt. I’m not sure if he’s meant to be funny but it’s more annoying to be honest.
The plot is confused and convoluted. Certain details don’t quite add up and there’s a twist that only adds to confusion.
I know, those are some harsh sounding criticisms but I did enjoy Popcorn for what it was. What is it? I’d say its light hearted, cheesy fun. I would absolutely take this horror film over most of what is greenlit these days.
If it hadn’t have been for a number of variables I genuinely believe this film wouldn’t be quite as obscure as it is. It had a lot of potential. I know some people consider it to be a cult classic but in my mind, it just misses the mark in a couple of ways.
The Final Score - 6/10
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