A group of college students decide to raise money by hosting a horror marathon at an abandoned theater mere weeks before it’s to be demolished. During their preparations they find an old film reel containing the final, incomplete work of an avant-garde filmmaker who went crazy and slaughtered his family live on stage during the premiere. The night of the event, the students become prey to a killer that seems eerily similar to the psycho filmmaker who allegedly died the night of his final performance.
The setup is fantastic. The horror marathon itself feels like something William Castle would’ve dreamed up; three schlocky B sci-fi and horror flicks complete with in house gimmicks. It’s not only a blast to watch the film within a film segments, but the killer incorporates the on screen happenings with his strategic kills. When a giant mosquito prop is sent down a wire above the audience during the climax of the black and white sci-fi feature about a radioactive giant mosquito, the killer utilizes the sharp proboscis of the prop as a weapon. But more than that, he uses the chaos of the rowdy attendees as a perfect distraction. The kills only get more inventive from there.
As if volume of the crowd wasn’t enough of a cover for the killer to take out the college kids with ease, he also has a tendency to create masks out of his victims’ faces. Which makes the college kids all the more unsuspecting that anything, or anyone, is amiss. When the killer does finally reveal his identity to our final girl, Maggie (played by Jill Schoelen), he also reveals his larger than life personality. The killer delivers his puns with exaggerated movement and excessive dramatic flair, and yet it’s fun.
Aside from genre actress Jill Schoelen as the lead, the film also boasts names like Dee Wallace and Ray Walston. Unfortunately, Dee Wallace and Ray Walston have minor roles, relegating much of the heavy lifting to the inexperienced supporting cast. Their performances do little to elevate the film from camp territory, though that’s not always a bad thing.
The worst flaw, however, is the poorly aged soundtrack. The music is definitely of its time; early 90s mostly movie themed hip hop. Though the film was shot in Kingston, Jamaica, the random insertion of a Jamaican band still felt out of place and a strange choice.
Unfortunately, Popcorn was a huge box office flop. To the point where it bypassed first run theaters and winded up in discount theaters. It’s a quirky little horror film with an oddball premise and equally strange villain. But that’s the precise reason Popcorn shouldn’t be overlooked. Sure, it’s a little dated at this point, but it’s a ton of fun with loving genre homages and very creative kills. The cover art really stood out on the shelves at the video store upon first home release, but it’s struggled to find an audience ever since. It’s a rarity to get your hands on a used copy, so if you do come across this one in the wild be sure to snatch it up.
Rating: 7 out of 10.
About the Author
Meagan Navarro is a blogger from Houston, TX. She fell in love with monsters at age four after being exposed to them via Ghostbusters, and her passion grew into an obsession for all things horror and Halloween (which is the entire month of October, as far as she’s concerned). Meagan also loves traveling and chocolate. Follow me on twitter: @HauntedMeg