Friday, November 20, 2009

Menacing Morsel

Trailer:

___"Popcorn"(1991)___
Directed by:
Mark Herrier
Alan Ormsby
Starring:
(Maggie)Jill Schoelen
(Toby)Tom Villard
(Suzanne)Dee Wallace
Taglines:
"Buy a bag, go home in a box."
"The Possessor. Fifteen years ago, he murdered his family on stage and burned down the theater. Tonight... he's back for an encore!

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Popcorn, which came out 5 years before Scream, is much better then what meets the eye. A excellent example of why not to judge a book by its cover, this film from first glance, doesn't seem that good. The artwork, while pretty awesome, does make the movie seem like a bad 80's slasher film. But surprisingly enough, its a good early 90's slasher film. The film has some similarities to Scream, but in my opinion, is far more entertaining and original. The movie is also a pretty good Halloween Horror film, being set on Halloween during a Horrorthon. The movie was surprisingly overlooked and forgotten, and isn't currently on DVD, aside from the probable bootleg DVD. The film has a certain charm, and plenty of loving homages and references to old B-films of the 50's to the 80's. Hell, even the fake films shown at the Horrorthon seem good enough to make real films. The movie is directed by Mark Herrier and Alan Ormsby, this being Mark Herrier's only horror film, and the first film he ever directed. Alan Ormsby also worked on it; though he had directed another great horror film a bit earlier, "Deranged" which I enjoyed a lot. He also wrote for films like "Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things", "Cat People"(1982) and "Death Dream". He did special effects for the film "Shock Waves". Alan Ormsby was the original director, but was replaced by Mark Herrier a few weeks into filming. He changed the lead actress and the story from the original, the only things still being Ormsby's are the fake b-movies within the film. This kinda makes me think what the film would have been like if Ormsby was kept for the film. I mean the title originally had more to do with the plot in the movie, but that idea was scraped, yet they decided to keep the name.
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The movie follows a young film student Maggie, whose class decide to throw a Horror movie marathon at this old abandoned theater, the Dreamland. The theater is actually The Ward Theater in Jamaica; In fact the whole movie was shot in Jamaica, which explains the fact the music is mainly reggae/ska. The music is alright and I felt it worked nicely, but a it is a bit strange to hear during a horror film. Meanwhile Maggie is having strange nightmares which consist of images of a old man, sacrifices and shades of blue. The class goes and starts to fix up the theater and this is where the fun begins in the film as the group montages away. They decorate the theater with vintage film posters, a clock that is a skeleton that shrieks when a movie is about to start, and all sorts of other crazy stuff. The movies they show are not actual movies, to my disappointingly( I would love to see the full versions of those films). The first film is "The Mosquito", about a Mosquito turned giant flying creature by Radiation. The film plays out like a old B atom age horror film; and it looks pretty awesome to boot. It shows off one of my favorite deaths in the film, which is man drained alive by head puncture. The next film is "The Amazing Electrified Man", about a man who takes a experimental chemical to keep him alive when he goes to the electric chair. Then its "The Stench", a Japanese movie(And the only in color) about a killer odor. Last, but not least is the film "Possessor" a strange surreal film created by Lanyard Gates, psycho film maker and cultist. Each of these movies have great William Castle inspired gimmicks. "Nurses" with certificates that state if people in the audience die of fright, the people behind the horrorthon are not responsible. This is inspired by William Castle's gimmick he had for his film "Macabre". Another is giant fake mosquito that flies over the audience(and helps build the body count); this is inspired by William Castle's glow-in-the-dark skeleton that would fly over the audience during the movie "House On Haunted Hill". Along with the Mosquito, the movie is also made in 3-D. They also use the seat buzzers from the "Tingler" for "The Amazing Electrified Man", and stink gas for "the Stench", which just reminded me of Odorama from Polyester.
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The Film Students consist of Maggie(Main character), Toby, Tina, Leon, Bud, Joannie, Cheryl, and their Teacher Mr. Davis. The students are the typical group of teens, the slut, the black one, the dumb ass and you even get one who's in a wheel chair! He sorta reminds me of Franklin from Texas Chainsaw Massacre a bit. Well while setting up for the event, they stumble upon a movie called "Possessor". The film was created by Lanyard Gates a cultist film maker who had killed his family during a showing of his film "Possessor" movie. The theater then burned down with Gates in it. The movie seems to be the same as the dreams shes been having and watching it causes her to pass out. She then tells her aunt Suzanne hears of this and decides to go to the theater to see if Lanyard is back; There she is attacked and taken out of the picture for the moment. It then goes into the event, which looks pretty awesome. The theater fills with costumed people, including some really cool costumes like the guy with a second head. This is when things start going wrong as someone is killing off the group of students one by one. The deaths are pretty interesting, not a lot of blood, but they are pretty entertaining and original. You have people impaled by Mosquitoes, Gassed in a stall, electrocuted, and sliced. Is it Lanyard back to finish what he started or something else?

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I really did like the designs and the idea of the film, I had a lot of fun watching it and would watch it again. I put this film above Scream, which a lot of people might disagree with. I also got to say how cool the villain actually is, hes really over the top and looks(in my opinion) great. He reminds me a bit of Freddy mixed with Henry Jarrod. The film does have its flaws though, not a lot of blood, some story elements are shown then thrown out completely, which could be remnants from the original movie story. The acting isn't that good either, and theres some terrible lines. I still like it though, its kinda like Pieces, yeah its horrible, but that's what makes it better! I'm not sure if the film is on DVD, I saw it on Netflix's Instant Watch, and I don't believe you can rent it. So unless you catch a old copy, download it, watch it on Netflix, or some bootleg copy, you wont be able to see the film. In fact, after this I'm going to go check some sites for the DVD, I really want to own it.

Overall:
Gore:3.5/5
Cheese:3/5
Villain:4/5
Body Count: 5
Best Scene: The Mosquito killing a man in the movie "The Mosquito", and Toby's death

4 Out Of 5
Poster:
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Alternate Titles:
Phantom of the Cinema
Skinner
Cineman kummitus

3 comments:

  1. "Buy a Bag, Go Home In A Box" is definitely my favorite tagline ever. Very good write up of a movie not enough people have seen.

    JM

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  2. Wow, I havent seen that one in yeeears! All I remember is that poster with the skull and the mask...it seemed to me like they were trying to create another horror icon like Freddy or Jason, but didnt really catch popularity with audiences. Sounds like this would make a fun rewatch, thanks for the review!

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  3. I wish Jill Schoelen would come back a make horror movies again.

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