Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Yucky Movies of October: Popcorn

22) Popcorn

A love-letter to the sweetly quaint, brilliant marketing campaigns and (secondarily) films of William Castle. Also, a time capsule of where horror films were circa 1991 complete with bad effects, a teleporting killer, and musical montage.

Anyhow, this is a Slasher film where the set-up is that you've got a group of film students throwing a movie night horror-thon and find a reel of film that's the work of a director who went berserk and killed his family. Of course, we're wondering if this can be related to our lead's nightmares of childhood events? Of course it turns out that Maggie (Jill Schoelen) was the daughter of the loony director, Lanyard, and now he's maybe back to wear disguises and finish off the family... and all her friends accordingly.

Whatever happened to Jill Schoelen? Evidently she retired and raised kids, but in the '80's she was one of the true scream queens; the lead in this and The Stepfather, The Phantom of the Opera, When a Stranger Calls Back, and Cutting Class (sadly, more people remember her now for her engagement to co-star Brad Pitt than her movies). Tony Roberts, Ray Walston, Dee Wallace, and Kelly Jo Minter also star here - so, let me reiterate, Time Capsule.

Things I wondered:
-Do tasks go faster if they can be done as a musical montage?
-How does the killer get the marquee to spit all it's letters at Dee Wallace when she shows up?
-As with all horror movies, why here, why now? Better to get a grudge out of your system when it's fresh than spend 10 years or so dwelling before you finally decide to do something about it? Was he just waiting, as a director, for film-makeup "technology" to improve so he could make his masks?
-Did Joe Dante know this movie was made already when he whipped up Matinee?
-Dressing up in costumes to go to a horror movie marathon is one thing, but who the hell would really keep wearing giant heads for the duration of the evening?
-Doesn't Tony Roberts kind of deserve to die if he's going to use a prop as dangerous as the Mosquito in a crowded theatre?
-did they just crib the makeup from The Abominable Doctor Phibes entirely for this flick or what?
-Why am I asking such banal questions? (Oh, yeah, this is a crap flick?)

Not a classic, I did read up that both the original director and lead were replaced during production. This is generally what you call a movie "born under a bad sign." But the faux-Fifties films are fun (even if they really didn't bother to do 'em right. No lead actress would have hair that fly-away in a Fifties flick). By 38 minutes in, not only had I figured out who the real killer was but I would have been willing to lay money on it.

It's crap, in a crap transfer with crap sound, but I enjoyed it. It's a yuck for it's gore attempts, a yuck for it's quality, but anyone bringing back the "Tingler" effect and making it a movie plot-point is okay in my book. Also, any killer who commits murder by toilet bowl really should be shown some love...

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