Special Features as Historical Preservation: Celebrating 30 Years of POPCORN, Jason Behind-the-Scenes, Face Melting, and More!
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The Bite #146
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Special Features as Historical Preservation: Celebrating 30 Years of POPCORN, Jason Behind-the-Scenes, Face Melting, and More!

February 03, 2021

In this Issue:


Special Features as Historical Preservation: Celebrating 30 Years of Popcorn

By Kristy Jett

A lot of the films I grew to be obsessed with were found on the shelf at the video store, my attraction based on how cool the VHS cover was. That’s how I found Popcorn, a film I would one day produce special features for. I rented it countless times. If there was one film out there I wanted to know everything about, it was Popcorn.

The hardest part was getting the rights holders, producers Howard Hurst and Ashok Amritaj, on board. They just couldn’t wrap their head around the idea that Popcorn had a fanbase that was eager for a new blu-ray release, unaware of its cult following.

Popcorn follows a group of college students who want to run a horror marathon at their local abandoned theater. However, a killer who is a master of disguise has other plans. The film was a collaboration between Alan Ormsby and Bob Clark (Black Christmas, A Christmas Story), who had worked together on Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things, Deranged, and Deathdream. The cast includes Jill Schoelen, who starred opposite Robert Englund in The Phantom of the Opera, Dee Wallace (The Howling), Malcolm Danare (Christine), and Tony Roberts (Amityville 3-D).

When you’re dealing with films that may not have seen wide release or just got a bare bones DVD in the past, the filmmakers sometimes have a wealth of content for you to mine. Once a deal was inked for Popcorn, the producers mailed boxes of it to Synapse. The holy grail was the original interpositive negative, which we were able to work a new 2K scan from. When you don’t have the luxury of working with an intact print, one tactic is to seek out private collectors and exhibitors. These original prints may contain never-before-seen footage or alternate takes, which can lead to whole new edits of these films.

It’s not just the film itself being utilized either. These collectors sometimes have TV spots, trailers, advertisements, and more that can wind up as special features. Of the interviews I filmed, I got the biggest kick out of walking into Bruce Glover’s home studio, watching him point to a Back to the Future and saying, “That’s my son Crispin’s movie.”

As cliche as it sounds, once you start collecting the history of the film told by the people who lived it, that’s when the magic happens. It’s word-of-mouth storytelling that can leave you feeling an even deeper kinship with that little movie you thought no one else knew about.

Therein lies the beauty of special features; they bring us into the fold, giving us all the lesser-known tales behind the films we live for. There’s something illuminating in listening to a commentary with the cast or filmmaker of your favorite film explaining the intricacies of a scene and how it came to be. Through these commentaries, you’re given a whole new lens by which to view the film.

We’re deep in the throes of a veritable physical media renaissance where, at any moment, we can be elated by the announcement of an old gem replete with bonus content. Streaming is a blessing, to be sure, but there’s something to be learned from the films that shaped us. Special features on physical releases help enhance cinematic appreciation. That’s not something we’re going to see watching the film itself, which is why these stories deserve to be preserved for future generations of fans.

Kristy Jett is a writer whose past credits include Rue Morgue, HorrorHound Magazine, Fangoria, Cashiers du Cinemart, and FearNet. She’s produced special features for Popcorn, Ginger Snaps, and Leviathan: the Story of Hellraiser. She lives in Western NY with her 7 cats and dreams of writing the next Friday the 13th sequel and bringing back Tommy Jarvis.


Image of the Week #146 - C.J. Graham F13 Part VI - The Bite


Enjoy this picture of Jason actor C.J. Graham behind the camera during filming of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives. He’s also a big fan of chopping footage.



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