The soundtrack and score for Mark Herrier's 1991 horror feature Popcorn has never been released before, but it's now making its debut thanks to the intrepid souls at Strange Disc. It seems that Popcorn has had a bit of a resurgence in popularity of late, making its Blu-ray debut early in 2017. It's easy to see why the film hasn't been generally acknowledged outside of cult circles. Popcorn was released in that strange inbetween age of the early 90s, when horror movies weren't really making many appearances in the theater and the straight to video market was beginning to reach over-saturation.
Popcorn kind of got lost in the mix and, to be fair, it's a very particular kind of film. It's set in California but shot in Jamaica, and there's a film-within-a-film element that means that the tone shifts wildly. There are three feature films within the movie itself, as well as the strange, supposedly cursed movie around which most of Popcorn is organised. It has a certain sort of charm and unrelenting creepiness underneath its goofy exterior though, and still plays well today.
The same goes for Paul Zaza's score. As the composer himself points out in the liner notes, "it is a movie about movies, and more specifically, a movie about people getting killed watching people getting killed in old movies". The score thus has to shift between a more modern sensibility – represented by the likes of "Swan Song" with a repetitious piano riff that takes equally from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Jaws – and the old-school 50s William Castle aspect – as exemplified by by the theme for "Mosquito".
And, given that it's the 90s, there are a couple of pop songs which nod to the film's island shooting locale. The reggae-tinged "Saturday Night at the Movies" and "Scary Scary Movies", along with the rapped "Countdown to Midnight / Scary Scary Movies" which plays over the end credits, are very much of their era but hold a special place in the heart of anyone who rented this during their 90s youth.
This vinyl release comes on limited edition black wax (there's a "popcorn swirl" variant out there as well), and sounds amazing. The liner notes don't offer up as to where these tapes were hiding the last couple of decades, but they've been taken care of. While the first side is a mix of short cues and pop songs, the second really lets Zaza stretch out with some classic-sounding horror scoring that fills the room with an eerie atmosphere.
POPCORN / COMPOSER: PAUL ZAZA / LABEL: STRANGE DISC RECORDS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW