CULT CORNER: ‘Popcorn’ should be consumed by more than just ’90s horror fans
Let’s face it – the 1990s were not the strongest decade in horror history. Sure, there were a few gems like “Scream,” “Candyman,” “Cemetery Man,” “The People Under the Stairs,” and “Dead Alive,” but many of the horror movies released in that decade seemed to be a rehashing of already told tales. Many of these films are long forgotten, and that may be for the best. However, one has developed a bit more of a cult following over the years after its initial box office failure.
“Popcorn” was originally released in 1991 and was widely panned by audiences and critics alike. Many saw it as a modern retelling of “The Phantom of the Opera” or the Vincent Price classic “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” without the strengths that those films possessed. While the comparison is fair and warranted, “Popcorn” does manage to stand on its own two feet and take the viewer for a fun ride.
The film focuses on a group of college students who are attempting to raise funds for the fledgling film department. They come up with an idea to run an all-night horror movie marathon as a way to raise money and decide to host it in an old abandoned movie theater. However, once the marathon begins, students are murdered one by one. And what do the murders have to do with one of the films, “Possessor?”
“Popcorn” also has a slight meta approach as films within the film tie into the murders in the theater. The films themselves offer wonderful nods to classic director William Castle, with props and gags staged throughout the theater.
This movie has long been relegated to a collector’s item since it has not seen a proper DVD release since 2001. Thankfully, Synapse Films has recently released it on a beautifully restored Blu-ray. Not only does it feature a reversible cover, but there’s also a limited edition steelbook for avid collectors, which is still available through their website.
Is it worth seeing? Popcorn is a piece of ‘90s horror nostalgia with a look and feel that was unique to the decade. It also has a strong fun factor that places it firmly into the horror comedy camp and avoids points of pure terror or suspense, offering a solid joyride instead. If you like laughs with your horror, this is a great choice.
While “Popcorn” has its flaws, it is still something worth viewing for any horror fan, especially those who love the horror output of the 1990s.