Thursday, October 4, 2018

Phil’s Halloween Horror Watch: POPCORN (1989) from Synapse Films - October 4, 2018

POPCORN Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-Ray
Starring Jill Schoelen, Dee Wallace, Ray Walston, Tony Roberts, Malcolm Danare, Tom Villard, Derek Rydall, Elliott Hurst
Written by Mitchell Smith and Alan Ormsby (as Tod Hackett)
Cinematography by Ronnie Taylor
Edited by Stan Cole
Produced by Howard Baldwin, Karl Hendrickson, Howard Hurst
Directed by Mark Herrier
Originally released by Studio Three Film Corporation
Released by Synapse Film

Hello and welcome back to another installment of Phil's Halloween Horror Watch. The late 1980’s and early 1990's was the beginning of the end for the horror genre, more specifically for the slasher subgenre. HALLOWEEN, FRIDAY THE 13th, CHILD’S PLAY, A NIGHTMARE OF ELM STREET, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE had bombarded theaters with numerous sequels that were, quite frankly, showing signs of fatigue, less than inspiring storylines, and diminishing budgets. While there were some shining examples of what the genre had to offer, such as HELLRAISER, NIGHTBREED, and CANDYMAN. In 1991, the film POPCORN was released and disappeared from theaters in a blink of an eye. Thanks to the fine folks over at Synapse Films, horror fans can now finally see this gem completely restored!!

The film's official synopsis: What could be scarier than an all-night “Horrorthon”? A group of film students finds out when they stage just such an event at an abandoned movie palace. In addition to the three features—MOSQUITO, THE ATTACK OF THE AMAZING ELECTRIFIED MAN and THE STENCH—they decide to screen a bizarre short called THE POSSESSOR, whose creator, Lanyard Gates, killed his family and set the theater on fire after its first showing. Maggie (Jill Schoelen, THE STEPFATHER) has been having frightening dreams that seem to be connected to THE POSSESSOR, and as the festival proceeds, the nightmare comes true for her and her friends as they are stalked and slain by a mysterious killer. Has Gates survived to continue THE POSSESSOR’s deadly legacy?

Original Theatrical Poster (1991)
Now I haven't seen the film since it was released on VHS and I rented it at my local mom&pop video store. It looked like nothing I had seen before up to that point. It had amazing locations, awesome make up and special effects, great cast of characters, an interesting antagonist, and an cool soundtrack. It just didn't look like your typical slasher flick. And it was freaking fantastic!

This was the feature film debut of Mark Herrier, who's best known as an actor. He starred in such 80's films like TANK, REAL MEN, and all three movies of the PORKY'S franchise. Joining him in the director's chair was Alan Ormsby, who is uncredited but co-wrote the film with Mitchell Smith under the name of Tod Hackett. All four of these individuals helped create one of the most unsung horror movies of all time, and was way ahead of anybody else in the industry. Like I said earlier, the horror genre was pretty much dead, killed by the neverending avalanche of inferior sequels. And then out of nowhere, POPCORN was released to theaters, but unfortunately by then there wasn't an audience to see it, and seemed to disappear. But that wasn't the end of the film.

The movie found a new lease on life on VHS and was discovered by horror fans. Soon, it gained the popular title "cult classic" and fans bought copies of the movie and rented it at video store in drones. But then, the landscape changed, and it was the dawn of the DVD. Comany Elite Entertainment released a DVD edition of the film in 2001, but then it became out of print for several years after. In 2017, Synapse Films released the movie on DVD again, Blu-Ray, and in a cool Limited Edition Collector's Steelbook 2-Disc Set.

POPCORN Limited Edition Collector's Steelbook.
Since I am a major physical media collector, I had to purchase the Limited Edition Collector's Steelbook 2-Disc Set of the film, which is limited to just 3,000 units (it's more than 60% sold out)! There's also a booklet with liner notes from Michael Gingold. The special features include a Brand-New 2K Scan of a 35mm Interpositive Vault Element, All-New Blu-ray 7.1 Surround Sound Mix Supervised by Synapse Films (Original 2.0 Stereo Mix also Included), 5.1 Surround Mix Included on DVD, Audio Commentary with Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, and Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls, MIDNIGHT MADNESS: THE MAKING OF "POPCORN" featuring interviews with Director Mark Herrier, Stars Jill Schoelen, Derek Rydall, Dee Wallace, Malcolm Danare, Ivette Soler, and Elliott Hurst, Special Makeup Effects Artist Mat Falls, Composer Paul Zaza, and Distributor Executive Jonathan Wolf (55 mins, HD), Electric Memories – An Interview with Actor Bruce Glover, Original Theatrical Trailer, Television Trailer and TV Spots, Still Gallery, and English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. As you can see, Synapse Films went all out with this edition. There's also a standard Blu-Ray and DVD of the film as well, and both contain the same special features, minus the liner notes and different artwork.

POPCORN is an undiscovered horror gem of a film that begs to be watched over and over again! While overlooked and forgotten over the years, fans of the film can now rejoice and watch it in their own living room!! And thanks again to Synapse Films for rescuing the movie from obscurity and presenting to a whole new audience who never had the opportunity to see it when it was first released all the way back in 1991!! This Halloween season, make sure you pick up the incredible horror title!! 5 out of 5 stars!! Highly recommended!!

POPCORN is currently available in a Limited Edition Collector's Steelbook, Blu-Ray and DVD from Synapse Films. To order a copy of the movie for yourself, please visit their website

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the horror!

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