Popcorn comes with a great affection for the lost pleasure of cinema-going it even screens old refreshment ads. In particular, it has affection for the old gimmick films of the 1950s. Many of the gimmicks used in the film the mosquito winched across the theatre, insurance policies against dying of fright, electric buzzers on the seats, odours pumped into the theatre are directly taken from the gimmicks that William Castle used in the 1950s. [The respective films are Macabre (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959) and The Tingler (1959). The only difference is that Castle winched a skeleton instead of a mosquito across the theatre in House on Haunted Hill and the Odorma gimmick is from another non-Castle film called The Scent of Mystery (1960)].
Moreover, Popcorn has a great affection for the old films being screened. The audience in the films theatre may be howling in laughter, shouting derision and throwing popcorn at the screen but the film plays its recreations with great affection and style, far more so than most genre film parodies/farces. The Mosquito segment in particular comes wonderfully attuned to the dialogue, the deadpan seriousness, the pretensions and the stiffly posed nobility of 1950s science-fiction films. Similarly, the Attack of the Amazing Electrified Man segment captures the black-and-white mood of 1940s monster movies well, as the brief glimpses of The Stench does of Japanese monster movies. If anything, the film has a contempt for todays audiences the denouement of the film where the audience cheers the maniac on and to whom the heroines screams only spur them on to greater applause holds an oblique comment about the undiscriminating bloodthirstiness of contemporary audiences. The modern slasher-styled sequences, which are skillfully combined with the film recreations, are staged with a rare attention to lighting and mood. The makeup effects are good the maniacs burnt face with what look like metal pins holding it together is creepy and there is one great effect where a girl kisses Tony Roberts and pulls his face off in her lips.
The story is a tad contrived it is set up to suggest that Lanyard Gates is the killer but then pans out that the killer is someone else altogether who fits into the contorted Lanyard Gates schema. The other minor annoyance about the film is its film students neither the director nor the screenwriter give the impression of ever having attended a film school. The film school students here are portrayed as the usual bunch of hijinking frat rats and party bimbos that litter the Friday the 13th and Elm Street films, not at all like the film school students in ones experience who have all been heavily absorbed in their own artistic visions-come-pretensions. The script does give them a few amusing lines, one student at one point protesting that there is more social relevance in one Police Academy film than all of Ingmar Bergman!!
The film came with an amusing poster Buy a bag [of popcorn] ... go home in a box.