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Film / Popcorn

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"Buy a bag... go home in a box."

Popcorn is a 1991 comedic Slasher Movie.

Maggie (Jill Schoelen) is a film student in college, looked after by her aunt Suzanne (Dee Wallace) since Maggie's parents died years ago under suspicious circumstances. She's currently writing a film about a girl named Sara - based on the dreams/nightmares that she's been having. Her film professor, Mr. Davis (Tony Roberts), is working on getting the funds to help her make her movie, along with the movies of the other students in her film class. To that end, Davis suggests putting on a fundraiser movie marathon of three shlocky sci-fi movies: "Mosquito!" about a giant mutant blood-sucking insect, "The Amazing Electrified Man," about a felon wreaking havoc with new-found control of electricity, and "The Stench," a Japanese horror movie about a smell powerful enough to kill people. One of Davis' friends, Dr. Mnesyne (Ray Walston), has the original gimmick props for all three films, so they can be shown as they were originally intended, gimmicks and all.

While preparing for the showing, the students come across a short film: "Possessor," a truly bizarre piece of celluloid. Davis explains that "Possessor" was made by a maniac named Lanyard Gates, who filmed everything except the final scene, which was to be performed on-stage: a ritual sacrifice. When the film was shown, Gates attempted to perform the sacrifice for real - there was a fight when this was realized, and the struggle ended up setting the theater on fire, killing several people. The students agree that Possessor can stay sealed up in the case where it was found, but seeing the film starts to trigger new nightmares for Maggie, as the film seems somehow to her strangely familiar.

The night of the marathon comes, and everybody is ready to go - but as the movies start rolling, Maggie discovers to her horror that her friends are dying, one at a time, killed by various means related to the movies being watched - and that it all seems related to her connection to "Possessor," and that perhaps someone she knows, someone close to her, might be the killer...

"Buy A Trope, Go Home In An Index":

  • Audience Participation: In-universe - the marathon allows people to shout their own Mystery Science Theater 3000 / The Rocky Horror Picture Show style lines at the screen. For example:
    Woman on Screen: Kiss me, Dick!
    Man in Audience: Kiss your what?!?
  • Big Bad: Toby D'Amato is the killer.
  • Black Chick Dies First: Averted. Cheryl is one of the three students who survives.
  • Can't Take Criticism: People regarded the movies Lanyard Gates made as total garbage, which makes sense since they were made while he was strung out on acid. He responded by making a movie that ended with him killing his own family in front of the actual audience. Well, he only managed to kill his wife.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Poor Bud is helplessly restrained, taunted via audio message and forced to wait and futilely struggle until he is slowly and painfully electrocuted to death. This is much harsher than the other kills and Bud gets it simply because it fits with the "theme" of the killings matching the movie being currently showed.
  • Dancing Bear: In-universe, each of the three creature features shown has its own William Castle-style gimmick. The killer ends up incorporating all three gimmicks in attempts to kill.
    • "Mosquito" has a large animatronic mosquito come out of the screen and fly over the audience, similar to the skeleton used for the showings of House on Haunted Hill (1959).
    • "The Amazing Electrified Man" has apparatus attached to chairs in the theater that give shocks to seated patrons, similar to the gimmick for The Tingler.
    • "The Stench" has a special chemical mixture that produces a noxious smelling fog.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Joanie's in love with Toby and has been trying to get his attention. When Toby impersonates Leon and tries to kill Joanie, he stops after Joanie asks if "Leon" knows if Toby likes her. Toby cannot handle this new knowledge and thus can't bring himself to hurt Joanie, running back to his hiding place and destroying stuff in a rage.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The killer likes to wear the skin of his victims in order to lure others in. They're actually fake copies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In the second Show Within a Show, The Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man, the villain's former lover sacrifices herself to save her husband and drive the villain to suicide.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Toby is done in by the mechanical mosquito going haywire and stabbing him through the chest and electrocuting him, a combo of how he killed Professor Davies and Bud.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Joy isn't a very nice person and taunts Mark cruelly when she thinks Maggie has dumped him, but she isn't wrong to be upset with Mark for asking her to be his date and then spending most of the film trying to make up with Maggie.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Lanyard Gates was Maggie’s dad, and tried to kill her along with her mom during the original screening of Possessor.
  • Mama Bear: Suzanne stepped in to save Maggie, her niece, when Maggie's own mother couldn't and managed to rescue her before her insane father killed her.
  • Misplaced Retribution: Suzanne and Maggie were as much victims of Lanyard Gates as Toby and his mother were, but Toby blames aunt and niece because Suzanne accidentally started the fire that left Toby disfigured.
  • Of Corpse She's Alive: The killer manipulates Tina's body in order to throw the rest of the group off the track. Part of the film's horror comedy comes from the fact the body is used in ways that are impossible, such as getting it to point without holding the fingers in place.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pungeon Master: The killer really enjoys his puns, even laughing at his own corny one liners.
  • Red Herring: Maggie starts to think Lanyard Gates is still alive and after her because she might be his daughter. While Maggie is Lanyard's kid, he also really has been dead for fifteen years. Toby dressed up as Lanyard to scare Maggie.
  • Sextra Credit: Sarah's classmate Tina is revealed to be having an affair with the film professor. Given the genre, this ends poorly for her.
    Tina: Everybody always wonders how I get those straight As. I keep telling them I do lots of extra credit assignments.
  • Shout-Out: Among all the fake movies, the festival is also showing The Incredible Melting Man and The Deadly Mantis.
  • Show Within a Show: The festival consists of various gimmicky '50's B-movies they made up for the project. There's also Possessor, the film Gates screened before his initial massacre.
  • Sins of the Father: Toby wants to murder Maggie and Suzanne because of the fire that destroyed his body and killed his mother, taking it out on them because Lanyard Gates is already dead.
  • Snuff Film: Toby attempts to finish Possessor this way to complete his revenge.
  • Tragic Villain: Toby is completely insane, but turned out this way after he watched his mother burn to death in the fire that raged during the original showing of Possessor. The same fire destroyed all the skin on his body, and he spent most of his life in and out of surgeries that left him hideously disfigured and forced to apply prosthetic skin to his face on a daily basis just so people wouldn't be terrified of him. While it's clear he's very much enjoying the kills he commits, it's laced with him ranting about how he'll never have a normal life and how much he hates Maggie and Suzanne for indirectly being the cause. What stops him being a total monster is that he can't bring himself to kill Joanie when she reveals she's in love with him (not knowing it's Toby she's talking to).
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: When Cheryl tries to break up a fight between Mark and Joy's new boyfriend, the boyfriend refuses to show Mark any mercy but says he won't hit a girl. Cheryl asks if he means that, then proceeds to deck him once she's sure he won't retaliate.

Alternative Title(s): Phantom Of The Cinema