I first saw Popcorn in high school, which was the perfect time to see it, really. I wasn’t all snobby and critical; I just enjoyed scary movies – especially the kitschy old ones that I’d see on WPIX on Saturday afternoons at my grandmother’s hosue.
Popcorn is kind of bad and kind of lame, but in an affectionate way. It paid homage to William Castle and Hitchcock almost a full decade before slicker, more polished movies sidled up to that troth. It is a movie that I’d later learn was fraught with creative problems – like the director being replaced halfway through filming – and it is a movie that feels incredibly dated, stuck in the 80s despite being released int he 90s.
The premise of the movie is that a killer is stalking a classic horror film festival, and the killer may have ties to one of the fest’s organizers. Cue spooky noise! It’s a nice way to marry all the major tropes of 50s and 60s horror – giant monsters, in-theater gimmicks – with the dominant horror trope of the 70s and 80s – slashers. The faux-movies in Popcorn are the only remnant of the original director’s vision for the film and they are ultimately the most entertaining parts.
Not actually scary and not actually entertaining for most of its runtime, Popcorn is a deep cut that is a bit of a nostalgia vampire. Your enjoyment of it is probably predicated on having seen it previously or on liking the type of movie it pays homage to. If you dare, it’s available on Netflix Watch Instantly.