[31 Days Of Horror ’22] Mini Reviews: Popcorn (1991) and Wishmaster (1997)

Mini Review
Day 15: ‘Catch Up’
Popcorn (1991)

The film for Day 15 is Popcorn (1991) as part of 2022’s ‘Catch Up’ prompt with films that I didn’t manage to get to in previous 31 Days Of Horror lists. Popcorn is not a film I heard about when I was younger, I don’t quite remember seeing it at the video store and it only really got on my radar over the past few years as it constantly popped up on Twitter with praise. Aside from the title, poster art and basic plot, I went into this film without knowing anything else and I am glad I did. The film has some great twists and turns, wonderful homages to cinema from the 50s and 60s and some excellent effects.

A group of film students decide to run a one night movie marathon at a run down theater in order to raise funds to make their own film. The theme for the little festival is B-grade films with audience participation (think William Castle) and effects, in their preparation they are given props and tools to use and within the boxes they find a film reel. They see that the film reel is the final film from a cult leader who made experimental films and the film was shown at the theater where the cult leader supposedly died after murdering his family with a fire ablaze. One of the film students Maggie (Jill Schoelen) starts to believe the cult leader may not be dead and on the night of the film marathon her fears may prove to be real.

There is a lot happening within the film, the students preparing and running their movie marathon, Maggie having strange dreams, her mother (played by Dee Wallace) may have past ties to the cult leader, the actual scenes being shown of the fictional films for the marathon and more. There isn’t really a dull moment to be had with Popcorn, the fictional films are hilarious to see and extremely well done, they make for some good breaks between scenes, plus the actual plot and then the twists and turns. There is no doubt this was an ambitious film, made with a passion for the B-grade genre and films from the 50s and 60s with a feel that mixes those with that late 80s and early 90s flair. Jill Schoelen is great as Maggie and provides a nice layered performance, it was fun to see Dee Wallace in a smaller role and Tom Villard as Toby a member of the film students absolutely steals the third act. Popcorn is a unique, fun and enjoyable film, it would make for a perfect for a double feature with Joe Dante’s Matinee (1993) on a Sunday afternoon.

Rating:

Mini Review
Day 16: ‘From the 1990s’
Wishmaster (1997)

The mid-90s era of horror video rentals is something that I fondly remember and spending hours just trying to decide what to rent to watch next. It is odd to me all these years later that I never did rent out Wishmaster (1997), it had the creepy and cool cover art and the trailers were on so many other rentals – basically how did I miss this film and have only just seen it for the first time in 2022 for 31 Days Of Horror? The younger version of me must have been a bit silly, but the present version is thankful that I finally did watch Wishmaster because it is pure 90s cheesy fun with all the horror related cameos!

In 1127 a sorcerer manages to lure an evil Djinn in a red stone, in order to stop the Djinn from granting three wishes, which will then allow him to unleash his fiends upon Earth. Fast forward to 1997 (I assume) and the red stone shows up again and in an investigation to find out what the stone is, the Djinn is unleashed once more. As the receiver of the stone Alexandra (Tammy Lauren) is responsible for unleashing the Djinn (played by Andrew Divoff) who will stalk her and haunt her until she makes three wishes. The plot is slightly convoluted, however once the Djinn really shows up the film really gets into gear with Andrew Divoff giving a performance that is both charismatic and campy. Some of the line deliveries from Divoff are utterly brilliant and at times feel almost out of place in the film but also not at all.

There is a lot of fun to be had with Wishmaster, from that performance from Divoff to the amazing cameos throughout the film, to the fantastic special effects with most being practical to the utter madness of some of the wishes. It is easy to see how this film has numerous sequels, Divoff’s Djinn character is extremely memorable and honestly should be right up there with other horror icons as just from this film deserves it. If like me you haven’t yet seen Wishmaster and enjoy fun and silly mid 90s horror, get on this one asap as it is well worth your time.

Rating:

 

Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea

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