Blu-ray Movie Review – Popcorn (1991)

Directed by Mark Herrier
Courtesy of Synapse Films & CAV Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1991
Blu-ray Release Date: October 3, 2017

When it comes to entertainment, POPCORN is one of those films that delivers in bucket-loads. It is dubbed a horror-comedy, but I found it more horror than humorous, although it certainly does a few laugh-worthy scenes. Still, there’s no denying the fright factor when the killer is onscreen. As such, this almost-lost gem from the early 90s is a lot of fun, and it’s perfect for a Halloween night movie!

If you are not familiar with POPCORN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Synapse Films and CAV Distribution:

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?

A loving homage to 50s/ 60s B-movies (the trio of flicks shown at the Horrorthon all have accompanying William Castle-style gimmicks), POPCORN is also an insanely fun horror/comedy in its own right. Pseudonymously written by Alan Ormsby (CAT PEOPLE, DEATHDREAM), who directed the films-within-the-film, it celebrates the joys of old-fashioned creature features and 80s-style stalk-and-slay, with a great cast additionally including Dee Wallace (THE HOWLING), Tony Roberts (AMITYVILLE 3-D), Ray Walston (THE STAND), Malcolm Danare (CHRISTINE) and Kelly Jo Minter (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 5). Pop some popcorn of your own and settle in to watch this new high-definition transfer, which comes with a box full of bonus features!

I call POPCORN an “almost-lost” movie because it was out of print for a long time, and therefore it was very hard to come by. The DVD copies in existence were selling for quite a bit, and at one point, I think I recall seeing them go for as high as $70. I’m not sure if I would have paid that much for it, but it’s still a heck of a movie regardless.

POPCORN is shot well and looks great onscreen, particularly thanks to the HD transfer. I love how well this one conveyed to Blu-ray; the colors are vibrant and the picture quality is excellent. The sound is superb as well. The new 7.1 sound mix is a big improvement to the old version. I found the tension to be more immersive because of the surround sound.

The special effects are minimal but quite effective. The main source of gore comes from blood, however there’s one very nice mouth-ripping scene. I won’t go into specifics, but I’ll simply say you’ll want to see it to appreciate it. My mouth hurt just from watching it!

The plot is the biggest winner in this film, though. Its gooey, campy goodness just oozes from the start, and it never stops. The film offers a truly nice combination of corniness and scares, building up just enough tension to keep you on edge. I can definitely see why this movie was in such demand when it was out of print; it entertains on many levels!

POPCORN is a definite win for me, and it’s a film you’ll probably watch multiple times because it’s so much fun. Sure, it’s over the top in places, but that’s what makes it so entertaining. Grab some friends on Halloween night and give this film a look; it’s a great way to spend an evening.

Special Features:
• All-New 2K Scan of an Archival 35mm Interpositive
• All-New Blu-ray 7.1 Surround Sound Mix Supervised by Synapse Films (Original 2.0 Stereo Mix Included)
• 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 minutes)
• Electric Memories An Interview with Actor Bruce Glover
• Original Theatrical Trailer, Television Trailer and TV Spots
• Still Gallery
• English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
• Blu-ray Reversible Cover Art by Chris MacGibbon
• All Region Encoded/Playable Worldwide!


Blu-ray Movie Review – Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the Corn
Directed by Fritz Kiersch
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1984
Blu-ray Release Date: October 3, 2017

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll reiterate it now: when young children are involved with horror movies, they make the films so much more intense. As a parent, I sympathize with how the children respond to the terror they experience onscreen because I subconsciously relate it to how my own kids might react.

But when children are responsible for the horror, well, that puts a whole new spin on things: it makes the movie even more fun! And how can it not? Kids are supposed to convey the essence of purity and innocence…so when they are the ones butchering adults, it turns our brains upside down.

Such is the case with CHILDREN OF THE CORN, the 1984 adaptation of Stephen King’s iconic short story. While it is a bit tame compared to today’s standards, the film is still a hell of a lot of fun, and it still packs a visceral punch in certain places. This is perfect for Halloween-viewing, though, and its release date is great timing, given the close proximity to the holiday.

If you are not familiar with CHILDREN OF THE CORN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

From the mind of celebrated horror author Stephen King, the man behind such classic terror tales as The Shining, Carrie and It, comes one of his most chilling offerings yet Children of the Corn.

A young couple on a road trip find themselves lost in the backroads of rural Nebraska, eventually winding up in the seemingly abandoned town of Gatlin. But the town is far from empty as the pair soon discover, it’s inhabited by a twisted cult of murderous children thirsty for another blood sacrifice…

Adapted from King s eponymous short story first published in 1977 and starring Linda Hamilton (The Terminator) and Peter Horton (thirtysomething), Children of the Corn has gone on to spawn one of the most enduring horror franchises of all time.

I absolutely love the cover that Arrow and MVD designed for this release. It simply exudes terror, and it captures the unrefined terror of the movie’s plot.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN is shot well and looks great onscreen. The HD transfer is clear, and even the darker scenes contain only the slightest bit of graininess here and there. I was curious as to how well this film would transfer to high definition, and thankfully, it exceed expectations.

The special effects in the film are good, although I would have preferred more gore. From what I’m told, the remake (which came out in the 90s, I believe) has more, but I think it would have worked great here. Still, this is just a personal preference and does not impact the horror of the film in any way. I particularly like how the ground is disturbed when “He” shows up. This is a neat effect, and it reminds me of “TREMORS”, which would arrive a few years later.

A big part of what makes CHILDREN OF THE CORN so good is the acting. Sure, Linda Hamilton and Peter Horton are great as the adults, but the prize-winners are the children…or rather, the young adults that acted as children. Ok, so technically John Franklin was 25 years old when he shot this, but he is still excellent and creepy as the sadistic leader, Isaac. He is joined by Courtney Gains, who plays the brutish Malachai. Gains was 19 at the time of filming, but that doesn’t make him any less menacing. The rest of the cast is great as well.

CHILDREN OF THE CORN is a great piece of early 80s horror, and I definitely recommend giving it a look. As I mentioned, it’s excellent Halloween fare, so pop this in while you’re getting ready for tricks and treats. In addition to the film, it boasts a slew of features, such as:

• Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio options
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Brand new audio commentary with horror journalist Justin Beahm and Children of the Corn historian John Sullivan
• Audio commentary with director Fritz Kiersch, producer Terrence Kirby and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains
• Harvesting Horror: The Making of Children of the Corn retrospective piece featuring interviews with director Fritz Kiersch and actors John Franklin and Courtney Gains
• …And a Child Shall Lead Them a brand new interview with actors Julie Maddalena and John Philbin
• It Was the Eighties! an interview with actress Linda Hamilton
• Field of Nightmares a brand new interview with writer George Goldsmith
• Return to Gatlin brand new featurette revisiting the film s original Iowa shooting locations
• Stephen King on a Shoestring an interview with producer Donald Borchers
• Welcome to Gatlin: The Sights and Sounds of Children of the Corn an interview with production designer Craig Stearns and composer Jonathan Elias
• Cut from the Cornfield an interview with actor Rich Kleinberg on the infamous lost Blue Man Scene
• Disciples of the Crow 1983 short film adaptation of Stephen King s story
• Storyboard gallery
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by John Sullivan and Lee Gambin

The film is available now.