DirectorMark Herrier/Alan Ormsby
Release Date(s)1991 (March 7, 2017)
Studio(s)Movie Partners/Trans-Atlantic Pictures (Synapse Films)
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A+
- Audio Grade: A+
- Extras Grade: A
Popcorn tells the story of a theater troupe putting on a William Castle-type show of three movies, complete with costumes and special effects. Unfortunately, one of the group’s members has an unfortunate past that will not just come back to haunt them, but bring harm to the other. Popcorn doesn’t make a ton of sense when it gets into the nitty-gritty about who the killer is and why they’re doing what they’re doing, but the movie is charming and lighthearted enough that you can forgive its messier details.
When I originally saw Popcorn for the first time, I knew very little about it. Judging by its original VHS cover, I assumed it would be a slasher movie about a group of sexed-up teenagers getting slaughtered one by one in a movie theater. I couldn’t have been more wrong. It’s definitely self-aware, but not in an overtly campy way. Even though it was a troubled production from the start, it still manages to subvert expectations and give you something different than you might expect. I also found it intriguing that the filmmakers opted to shoot fake movies for use within the film, which is a fun idea, and one that Joe Dante would revisit later in Matinee.
Synapse Films’ presentation stems from a new 2K scan of the film’s interpositive element, and it’s absolutely the best that the film has looked on home video. There are healthy grain levels, high amounts of fine detail, strong color reproduction, natural skin tones, deep black levels, excellent overall brightness and contrast, and next to no film damage leftover. In short, there’s virtually nothing to complain about. For the audio selection, there’s a new English 7.1 DTS-HD track, as well as the original 2.0 soundtrack. The new 7.1 track definitely gives the movie’s sound design more room to breathe in the surround speakers, particularly sound effects and score. Dialogue reproduction is clean and clear as well. The 2.0 mix obviously has less room the play in, but is a strong stereo soundtrack in its own right. Both tracks feature no instances of clipping, dropouts, or hiss-related issues, and if needed, subtitles in English SDH are also available. Once again, Synapse Films knocks the A/V presentation out of the park, and we wouldn’t expect anything less.
There’s also a nice chunk of supplemental material to check out as well, including an audio commentary with director Mark Herrier, actors Jill Schoelen, Malcolm Danare, actor and special makeup effects artist Matt Falls, and moderator Christy Jett; the terrific Midnight Madness: The Making of Popcorn documentary; Electric Memories with Bruce Glover; an animated still gallery; the film’s original theatrical trailer; a TV trailer; 7 TV spots; and a DVD copy. This also comes in Steelbook packaging containing an insert booklet with liner notes on the film by Michael Gingold.
Popcorn is certainly not perfect. Knowing that it changed both directors and cast members three weeks into shooting, including putting someone in charge that had never directed before, it’s a wonder that anything intelligible came out of the effort at all. Highly requested by genre fans for years, it’s now available on Blu-ray in the best possible presentation, and with informative and entertaining bonus material too. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons