Popcorn (1991)

This is a slasher film…but it contains elements of a supernatural horror as well as tongue-in-cheek self-reflection that was pretty popular in 1990s horror movies. That’s right, we’re looking at the build up of ’90s meta-horror!

In Popcorn, a film class hosts a cheesy horror movie marathon in an old theater, but there is a killer walking amongst them, one who wants payback for a mishap that happened fifteen years before during a very avant-garde film performance in which a Charles Mansion-esque cult leader who liked making shitty wannabe Warhol movies tried to kill his wife and daughter on stage right before the theater burned down. If you read my thoughts on Flesh for Frankenstein, you’d know that it must have been truly disturbing if it’s a shitty wannabe Warhol movie. But all is not what it appears to be.

Unfortunately for Popcorn, it approaches the meta idea but then never crosses the line into actually owning up to it. Sure, it’s full of references to horror films from the 1950s and ’60s, but it never examines the slasher tropes that it adheres to in the same way beyond the silliness of the lead villain, who is admittedly wonderfully playful and an absolute blast to watch. It’s not a bad movie, but it never gets to where it could have been a great movie either. And yet, I still really enjoyed watching it. Not just because of how it loves the old William Castle-style B-movies that I enjoyed watching as a kid, but because it also understands how much I like to laugh at them too. And then it adds a great villain who keeps me laughing.

…hmm. You know what? That might be where Popcorn really succeeds. It has me laughing at the old and remembering what I love about it and then goes on and has me laugh at what was the “new” trend too, as if to say that all of these kinds of horror movies are OK to mock but also to enjoy. The slasher had to follow the others, but it’s all ultimately the same kind of thing, and all ultimately just as enjoyable.

Huh, I had an insight. How about that?

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