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Popcorn vs. Cut

tn_popcorn-cutIn further Halloween leftovers I have a double feature of “cursed movie” movies.

After seeing THE SUBSTITUTE and PORKY’S 2: PORKY IS NOT IN THIS ONE THOUGH I wanted to catch up with all the other movies Alan Ormsby had anything to do with, and POPCORN seemed like a good choice for Halloween. It’s about some film students who put on a big vintage horror marathon complete with William Castle style gimmicks. It happens at a big old style movie house and the patrons come in costume and ready to be obnoxious.

But the most obnoxious is a mystery maniac who’s terrorizing the place, possibly for reasons related to a “film cult” whose unfinished last film POSSESSOR these students happened to find a print of. Apparently this cult leader/auteur named Gates showed the movie before burning down a theater… and they never found the body. Not sure if that is relevant but thought I’d mention it just in case, I don’t know. Might be an unnecessary detail.

mp_popcornIt’s a cool idea I think, but honestly most of the fun comes from the festival itself, the movies-within-the-movie, which I think I heard Ormsby directed, but if so he’s not credited for it. There’s MOSQUITO, THE AMAZING ELECTRIFIED MAN and a dubbed Japanese one called THE STENCH. I was really impressed by that last one because Godzilla movies always get parodied (and martial arts movies if you want to lump in other Asian cultures) but I don’t think most filmatists know about (or expect us to know about) the non giant monster Japanese horror of that era like GREEN SLIME, MATANGO and all that stuff. So it gives it some movie nerd cred and authenticity. I also thought alot of (but not all of) it felt fairly accurate to the feel of a real good festival of this type. Actually this would’ve been a pretty spectacular event to attend for the most part – a relatively small number of people get killed. So 99% of the moviegoers I think had a good time and probly didn’t regret going, unless they can’t appreciate old campy movies, in which case fuck ’em.

Bob Clark somehow consulted the makeup department, and there are in fact some pretty cool illusions of a burnt up monster putting on masks of the other characters.

The movies aren’t really funny exactly, they’re just cool “what if” alternate cinematic history and if they really existed you can see how fun it would be to watch them late at night with that huge crowd and electrified seats and all that. So that makes it enjoyable. The movie itself is watchable, but not great.

Ormsby is credited for writing the screenplay, and it’s directed by Mark Herrier, the guy who played Billy in the PORKY’S saga.

mp_cutAfter POPCORN I watched this Australian SCREAM-era (2000) meta-slasher called CUT. You get it, because a director yells “cut” and a maniac cuts you. Double meaning. Just like POPCORN and that newer one THE HILLS RUN RED this involves a cursed horror film. It’s an ’80s slasher abandoned two different times when real murders took place on set. Now a hot-prospect film student (“she’s supposed to be the next Jane Campion”) convinces the star (Molly Ringwald) to return to Australia to give it another go, and of course the murders start happening again.

The film references aren’t too obnoxious, and it’s kind of cute to see it from an Australian perspective. They even mention MAD MAX 4 being about to happen. They don’t hide from SCREAM either, mentioning both it and Wes Craven in the dialogue. The heroine looks a little like Neve Campbell too, and has a secret connection to the murders through her mother. And it uses similar pop music on the soundtrack.

I thought it was kind of cool that it was a woman director in the movie. Genre tradition takes precedence over the reality of the industry power structure. The actual director of CUT is a man though, Kimble Rendall. He hasn’t done much else as a director but seems to have made a good career as second unit director on big Hollywood productions that film in Australia. He did the MATRIX sequels, I, ROBOT and KNOWING. And, uh, GHOST RIDER. But, you know. Food and electricity cost money.

In CUT (and the movie within-the-movie) the killer wears an adequately creepy full head and neck mask. The “kills” are okay. I like the part where he kills the guy playing the killer in the movie – it’s not every day you see a masked slasher get his rubber throat slit.

It seems to be solidly in that whodunit slasher mold revived by SCREAM, with all the red herrings and possible motives and what not. At one point it looks like it’s heading for a SCOOBY-DOO type ending. But (SPOILER) in the end it turns out to be supernatural. I didn’t see that coming. So he’s silent stalker and burnt up supernatural being, like if you took off Jason’s mask and he was Freddy underneath. And this guy’s death is great, involving some fantastic latex effects and crying so horribly I almost felt sorry for him.

I didn’t feel sorry for Ringwald though. It’s cool to see her again, but her role is kind of lame. She just plays the cliche of the bitchy primadona star, and not even well written enough to get many laughs out of it. There are a few moments when she’s portrayed as a human being, but there oughta be more. Maybe they were waiting for part 2.

I guess Kylie Minogue is in there too, but I didn’t know which one she was. I’ve heard the name but don’t really know who she is.

Darth Irritable suggested this in the “homework assignment” thread, and I think maybe someone else had been trying to push it on me too. It lived up to the recommendation: nothing special but fairly enjoyable.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009 at 8:37 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

21 Responses to “Popcorn vs. Cut”

  1. Didn’t Moriarty write a ‘cursed movie’ movie, or TV episode or something? How did that compare to this stuff?

  2. He and Scott Swan wrote “Cigarette Burns,” a John Carpenter directed episode of Masters of Horror about Wesley Snipes’s sidekick from BLADE II trying to track down a lost movie that caused everybody who saw it to go mad. As far as anthology horror TV goes it’s pretty good. It’s a cool premise with a couple crazy ideas I enjoyed. It’s hard to compare because I have lower expectations for TV. It’s better than some TV and these are worse than some movies, so maybe it’s better.

    Anyway I’d say it’s the best of the Masters of Horror episodes I’ve seen other than Coscarelli’s “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road.”

  3. Sweet. We’ll call it a warm up for Carpenter’s triumphant return to the silver screen with that ghost movie starring one of the co-stars of the new Friday the 13th, who before that was on Disney channel. Fuck, that sounds bad written out like that. Oh well, you never know how things are going to turn out these days.

  4. Blade blowing that guy up is my favorite moment from any of those movies. Well that and the line about ice skating and motherfuckers. And Whistler calling Ron Perlman nipple head. That was awesome.

  5. Vern, when you get a chance, I hope you’ll give us a review of the Coscarelli episode. I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  6. Thanks Vern – appreciate the review. I just liked 1. Kylie (the woman director of the original) getting her tongue cut out – seemed appropriate for making us listen to freaking Locomotion in the 90’s, and 2. The wierd shit – like when the revealed to be supernatural killer comes down the stairs, saying “I’m just an ordinary Handyman from Queens” or some random thing. Other than that, serviceable, but not genius. Either way it leaves Saw 397, or whatever the hell they’re up to now, in the dust.

  7. Has anyone else seen Anguish (Angustia) by Bigas Luna? I can say without a shadow of a doubt that its my favourite film within film meta horror movie. And even though its a Spanish movie its shot in English so peole who are scared of subtitles can watch it too.

  8. That’s interesting ,Vern . I always like the concept of “cursed movies” and I too , like Brendan , immediately linked this double review to “Cigarettes Burns” and “Le Fin Absolue du Monde” . I will certainly try to find “Popcorn ” around here .

    Speaking of “cursed movies” or “misterious movies “in real life , anybody has suggestions , you fine gentlemen ? Aside from Poltergeist and The Omen , the first movie in my mind is “Haxan” a Swedish silent movie from the 20’s based on the book “Malleus Maleficarum” , a guide for inquisitors. I’ve seen years ago the 60’s cut subtitled “Witchcraft through the Ages” , with a new voiceover and narration by William Burroughs . It’s not a “cursed movie” , but it’s pretty rare and the subject and literary origins , make it interesting and intriguing .

  9. While I haven’t seen every episode of Masters of Horror and Fear, Itself, I think it’s fairly safe to say (in my opinion) that none of them are good. Not even Cigarette Burns, imo.

  10. I agree Incident On and Off a Mountain Road was a really good episode of Masters of Horror. The monster and kill effects totally sell that movie along with the surprisingly good acting(in a TV movie) but if you haven’t checked out Argento’s Pelts, starring mother-fucking MEATLOAF himself, then you def should. I think it rises above the rest of the movies in that series by leaps and bounds.

  11. Both of Argento’s entries were good. “Jenifer” was the other one.

  12. The thing that most stood out about POPCORN for me was the inexplicably odd kills. Death by giant prop mosquito and death by unexplained pellets dropped into a toilet to create poison gas are, if nothing else, original.

    Also, I would like to throw my support behind Miike’s IMPRINT and Lucky McKee’s SICK GIRL as the best MoH episodes.

  13. Hey Vern, FYI: I Robot was shot in Vancouver Canada. I only mention this because I worked on the damned thing and scarred the living hell out of me.

  14. Xambot – sorry for the error. I knew the Matrix sequels were filmed in Australia so it seemed to make sense all the others would be. Maybe he just knows Alex Proyas from the Australian film community.

  15. Xambot — what’s your I, ROBOT story? Was it as big a clusterfuck as everyone thinks or did it just not come together quite right in the end?

  16. “Incident On and Off a Mountain Road”

    oh man, i hated that one. lemme make sure i’m thinking of the same one. the girl crashes her car and some slasher chases her around the forest, while she flashes back to survival training from her ex boyfriend (husband)? thought that one was pretty awful. some neat ideas, but bad acting on behalf of everyone, and pretty corny videogame-turned-movie type action scenes.

  17. Tangentially related to the idea of a “cursed movie”: The other night a photographer died of a heart attack immediately after shooting Lady GaGa on the red carpet. Which is obviously sad because someone died but is otherwise completely awesome since it makes it seem like it was his photographing of her that caused his death. Can’t buy publicity like that.

  18. I kill all the photographers who take my picture. Fuckers ain’t taking MY soul.

  19. OH MY GOD IMPRINT! I’ll never forget a few years ago I was attending the 24 Hour Horror Movie marathon in Chicago called the Music Box Massacre. Anyway, I was dozing off because it was really early in the morning and I remember waking up because somebody was yelling. They decided to show Imprint. Holy toledo that was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Nothing but yelling and shitty acting. Billy Drago gives the most rediculous performance ever. I really wish I never saw that crap.

  20. The thing that bothered me about CUT was that it was apparently a big deal in the movie that they were going to finish the original film and it made the entertainment news, etc. but then they show up to film the movie with a few people and that’s it. I mean, that’s a nitpick, but a pretty big one. Even if it was thought out better regarding that it probably would still be average at best.

    Haven’t seen POPCORN yet, but was looking for it on DVD this Halloween. The event in the movie sounds really cool.

  21. If I remember correctly Kylie Minogue was the asshole director who gets stabbed in the opening scene. The Drew Barrymore role if you will. She is a soap actress turned pop star who has a big gay following and is mostly famous for a video clip where she wears gold lamé hot pants.

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