Director – Mark Herrier, Alan Ormsby
Cast – Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace, Derek Rydall, Malcolm Danare, Elliott Hurst, Ivette Soler, Freddie Simpson, Kelly Jo Minter, Karen Witter, Ray Walston, Tony Roberts
Release Year – 1991
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Boy did this film surprise me. I have never been too big on giving 90s horror films a chance simply because so darn many of them are disappointing. We got a few great 90s horror flicks with Army of Darkness and Se7en, but most just come off as underdeveloped and with crappy music. Well, that is not the case with Popcorn. Popcorn gives us horror fans a real treat of a film in that we are shown just how fun horror films used to be back in the “day”, and with many shout-outs and homeages to the classic films that helped horror evolve into what it is today.
This flick follows a group of high school Film Club students who decide to put together an all-night horror fest in a soon-to-be-demolished theater house to bring respect to the club. One of the students, Maggie, has been suffering horrible dreams lately involving a man referring to himself as the “possessor”. When the students find an old film within the theater they decide to play it on the big screen, and it near perfectly resembles the dreams Maggie has been having. The film, titled Possession, has a dark past to it as it was a film from a new-age occultist director named Lanyard Gates, who was believed to have been killed in a fire that occurred during his only showing of the film. A few days pass and it is now the night of the horror fest and Maggie soon becomes taunted by a man bearing a strong resemblance to Lanyard Gates, and when the students begin to suffer horrible demises as the horror fest goes on, she sets out to find and put and end to Lanyard Gates herself, and with surprising results.
If you love cheezy horror then this film is for you. Of course…it gets better if you also enjoy film and cinema, then this film is REALLY for you. Right from the start we are thrown into the fun mess of lame and cheezy high school jokes coupled with the desire of young film club students hoping to put on the greatest horror fest their unappreciative/soon-too-be-appreciative town has ever seen. It was very fun to watch these students transform the theater into an awesome establishment that I personally would LOVE to go to and watch old horror films at. I was very enveloped in the feel and atmosphere of the film, which really made this a fun watch and shows how very well executed this piece is.
Story-wise this flick sounds and comes off a bit like a slasher film, but with some nice twists that keep it from being anything overly cliché. The dreams Maggie suffers are quite horrifying, and learning the truth behind Lanyard Gates throws the viewer for a loop multiple times, until the final “twist” kicks in. Yes, that is right, MULTIPLE twists for the viewer. I, like most horror fans, am a huge fan of twists in films, and this one comes with enough of them to last me a while until the next one comes about. To make this even cooler, the twists were ones I really did not see coming, which is always the objective of the twist. I must commend writer/original-director(I’ll explain later) Alan Ormsby for a very fun and well written screenplay that played a big role behind the success of this awesome horror film.
Direction-wise this flick is a success, and comes with some interesting information. The original director for the film, Alan Ormsby, was replaced after about three weeks of principal photography. Some of you may remember Mr. Ormsby as a co-writer for Bob Clark’s amazing PG zombie film, Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. So who was Mr. Ormsby replaced with? Well, none other than Mark Herrier, who starred as Billy in Bob Clark’s most popular film…Porkys! Yeah, I was pretty bewildered when I came across this information myself. While Alan Ormsby got things going, Mark Herrier really sealed the deal with this film’s direction and fantastic execution. The pacing is great, the visuals and props are awesome, and the atmosphere and feel of this film envelop the viewer entirely. For a first-time director Mark Herrier did one hell of a job.
Overall, this is a fun watch that I recommend to all horror fans who love these fun-to-watch slasher-esque films with plenty of horror homeages thrown in. This is definitely a film made “for the fans”, and it comes highly recommended by me.