When I was a teenager I remember seeing Popcorn advertised on the local TV station as "Coming To Theatres This Friday". Drawn in by its slasher movie appeal, well done poster art, and memorable tagline ("Buy a bag. go home in a box") I instantly wanted to see it. Not lucky enough to actually convince someone to go to the theatre with me, I rented it as soon as it came out on video, and I enjoyed myself. Now, fifteen years later I decided to revisit Popcorn and was amazed at just how well it's stood up over time.
The story is your typical simple slasher flick set-up as it tells the story of wannabe scriptwriter Maggie (Jill Schoelen, a minor scream queen of the late 80's) who is suffering from a nightmare filled with all sorts of wacky visions like a man whispering "possessor." at her before sacrificing a young girl with a giant blade.
While it's fairly bothersome to her she doesn't let it bring her down too much, which is a good thing since her filmmaking class at the nearby College has decided that in order to raise funds for the department (which isn't being taken seriously and forced to conduct class in various rooms all over campus) has decided to stage an all night "HorrorThon" where they play old school horror flicks and try to scare their paying audience with gimmicks (a slight nod to showman William Castle).
However Maggie is a bit unnerved when the film reel they've stumbled upon in a trunk of movie memorabilia collector Dr. Mnesyne (Ray Walston) contains a lost film entitled "Possessor" that was made by Lanyard Gates, the psychotic head of a "film cult"who killed his wife and child on stage as a finale to the movie. What unnerves her more, though, is that it contains the exact visions in her dreams.
From there things go along the standard route as the movie night seems to be a success as the theatre is packed with all sorts of costumed and non-costumed people who've paid the admission to watch cheesy horror flicks. Too bad, then, that the students putting the whole show on start to get killed off by who Maggie believes to be the one and only Gates, out for revenge (since the theatre they're using was not only the location of his deed but since it also burnt down while he was in it).
Popcorn is an agreeable mix of homage, slashings, and comedy. It never takes itself seriously, director Mark Herrier (he played "Billy" in the Porky's movie and is making his directorial debut here) has fun restaging various types of old horror movies (the scenes of the 50's giant monster flick, "Mosquito" are right on the money), and it manages to be an entertaining timewaster. Schoelen is engaging enough in the lead, the rest of the cast does fine (Tom Villard gets to completely ham it up in the silly finale), and Herrier's direction is solid enough - everything about Popcorn is pretty solid though.
The script was written by Alan Ormsby (using the name, "Tod Hackett") and he also apparently did some uncredited direction. Ormsby and Herrier previously worked together on the Porky's movies and he's a longtime collaborator with Bob Clark (Black Christmas and Porky's, who'd of thought?) who is credited here as the special effects supervisor. This was filmed in Jamaica, which explains the mostly reggae soundtrack. (Chris Hartley, 1/22/06)
Directed By: Mark Herrier.
Written By: Tod Hackett (Alan Ormsby).
Starring: Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace Stone, Derek Rydall.