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— W.C.U.N — Pittsburgh!!

POPCORN (1991) Dir. Mark Herrier, Alan Ormsby and Bob Clark (both uncredited.) Written by Alan Ormsby as Tod Hackett and based on a Story by Mitchell Smith. Starring: Jill Schoelen, Tom Villard, Dee Wallace, Tony Roberts, Kelly Jo Minter, and Ray Walston.

Oh, Jill Schoelen, where did you go? Horror sorely needs another actress with Schoelen's easy charm. The perfect Final Girl, though she never quite played one unless you count this movie as a Slasher which I don't. Looking back at her roles in Horror, it's surprising how little she actually did in the genre; The Stepfather, The Curse II, Cutting Class, The Phantom of the Opera, Popcorn and When a Stranger Calls Back. In my mind, she was ubiquitous during that era, but perhaps that is simply because I was discovering all of these movies around '90 and '91 on VHS. By the time Popcorn was announced, I was enduring my first real movie crush on Ms. Schoelen about the same time she was breaking a pre-fame Brad Pitt's heart. The marketing for Popcorn was pretty standard at the time save one truly bizarre ad campaign with Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins coming off the field after winning the Super Bowl to say that he was going to see Popcorn to celebrate the big win! Not being a football fan or knowing who the hell Dan Marino was, I was doubly confused. Never the less, I plucked my five bucks down come the Friday night of release and with a pretty packed theater settled into what I expected to be the Horror film of my young life. 90 minutes or so later, I left the theater a little underwhelmed, my already gore-soaked heart disappointed in the lack of red stuff and the overall tame approach to the material. Still, I watched it several more times on video in the coming year, and several more times in the years following. The film had got its hooks in me somehow. Later, I realized how much of it had to do with the setting; an all-night horror marathon of non-existent B movies. Setting wise, you can't get much better than a movie theater for a horror movie and Popcorn is one of the all-time greats at using this setting to its advantage, beat out only perhaps by Demons and Anguish. I spent the better part of my teen years wishing to experience something so fun as an all-night horror-thon, with other excited fans - thankfully, that dream has been ticked off the bucket list numerous times since. Then there is Tom Villard as Toby, one of the most sympathetic and scary villains in horror films. His backstory and motive (the Lanyard Gates stuff scared the shit out of me,) as well as his methods, are all totally unique and make for some great prosthetic effects. I had only ever seen Tom once before as one of the dimwitted Stork Brothers in One Crazy Summer and to see him here as the bad guy was really one of the first times I realized how versatile even the most supporting of character actors could be. Popcorn also gifted me another realization, that of the joy of B movies. I had already steeped myself in B and Z grade horror, but Popcorn helped me realize that these types of movies went back much further than the 80's and that shocker - such films existed in Black and White! It started me down a life-long journey of discovery and I am not ashamed to mention that some of the first films I looked for were the non-existent ones on screen in Popcorn. 

 

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