Should you take into account its plot on a bare-bones stage, there’s nothing outstanding about 1991’s Popcorn, It is a slasher movie that 100% adheres to the basic construction: a tragedy up to now sparks a vengeful killer within the current, who then proceeds to select off their victims one after the other. However due to its intelligent setting and its personal horror-movie worship, Popcorn is a lot greater than that.
We’re first launched to Maggie (minor scream queen Jill Schoelen, who additionally starred in The Stepfather and When a Stranger Calls Again), a movie scholar who lives along with her mom (horror legend) Dee Wallacestar of The Hills Have Eyes, The Howling, Cujo, Crittersand ET the Further-Terrestrial) and is satisfied that her eerily vivid desires will assist her write a tremendous script. Then we meet Maggie’s classmates—a cornucopia of film geeks. To lift cash for his or her faculty’s movie division, they resolve to host a horror marathon at a long-shuttered close by theater, that includes a trio of corny flicks that have been initially launched with promotional gimmicks (main hat-tip to William Fortress) they will recreate.
Stepping in to assist with this activity is “the grasp chef of showmanship,” Dr. Mnesyne (Ray Walston, star of My Favourite Martian, Quick Instances at Ridgemont Excessive, and about 1,000,000 different issues), who runs a memorabilia store and is ready to provide the youngsters with all of the rubber monsters and wacky costumes and props they will want. However on the large evening, a killer lurks among the many crowd, creatively murdering members of the group after which assuming their identities utilizing alarmingly lifelike masks to cowl up their crimes.
The niftiest side of Popcorn—directed by Mark Herrier and written by Alan Ormsby—is that the manufacturing really went the gap and filmed important parts of the movies-within-the-movie that type the backdrop for many of its motion. At instances, the primary movie cedes the complete display to those cornball footageall of which might’ve been honest recreation for Thriller Science Theater 3000 riffage in the event that they have been really actual. There’s creature-feature Mosquito, introduced in 3D with the added bonus of an enormous bug that is rigged to fly throughout the theater at a key second; monster story The Assault of the Wonderful Electrified Man, for which sure seats are rigged to “shock” viewers members; and The Stenchstylistically modeled after a Godzilla film (the dubbing!) but in addition that includes the John Waters-esque use of “Odorama” to envelop the viewers in no matter disgusting smells are depicted on-screen.
The eye to element is admirable. And there is a fourth movie-within-the-movie that additionally performs an important function: Possessor, which the school youngsters discover a copy of whereas they’re cleansing out the theater. Fifteen years prior, its director—“head guru of this movie cult again within the ’60s”—misplaced his thoughts after audiences laughed at his self-serious avant-garde cinematic explorations. His answer to silence the haters? Movie his whole script for Possessor save the final scene, which he carried out dwell onstage as a substitute, including the ugly remaining “gimmick” of murdering his household then setting the theater on hearth, killing a number of viewers members within the course of. He died together with them… or did he? And one other factor: why does Maggie’s recurring dream look precisely like Possessor,
The thriller portion of Popcorn is totally not tough to determine. Like most slashers of the period, you’ll not have any bother discerning who the killer is, and even in case you have any confusion as to their motivation (you will not), they get an enormous scene on the finish the place they clarify all the things, The enjoyable right here is the overall air of goofballery that envelops the complete film. The characters are all one-note—the one one that will get something resembling an arc is Maggie’s boyfriend, performed by Derek Rydall (star of one other slasher from the identical period I additionally extremely, extremely advocate: Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge,,however they’re likable all the identical, with Tom Villard (Grease 2) and Kelly Jo Minter (A Nightmare on Elm Road 5: The Dream Little one) amongst them.
And what’s extra, you’ll be able to’t assist however love the rowdy viewers that settles in for the horror marathon carrying all method of Halloween-costume finery. They eat up all the flicks and the gimmicks with hooting pleasure, they enthusiastically take a dance break when the theater loses energy, they usually even keep by way of the tip to witness the killer get their simply desserts. Popcorn‘s not at all a masterpiece—not even amongst its slasher kin—however it’s completely an earnest love letter to midnight film insanity.
Popcorn arrives on Shudder at present, Could 9.
Need extra io9 information? Try when to anticipate the most recent Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on movie and TVand all the things you have to learn about Home of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Energy,