I love popcorn! I love popcorn so much that I get extraordinarily excited when it turns up in movies. Especially horror movies, where it often becomes a prop in bizarre murders involving alien clowns or unreasonably toxic spiders.
Below: Five scenes from horror movies that feature popcorn. I know what you like to read about.
During Scream’s perfect opening scene, Casey (Drew Barrymore) plays along with a “harmless” prank call that soon leads to her death. That’s the too-simple summary, because it’s hard to me to go into particulars when all I wanna talk about is THAT JIFFY POP.
While on the phone, Casey’s shakes an adorable Jiffy Pop pan over the stove. You know, the one that creates a big tinfoil “brain” of popcorn. I’ve cooked Jiffy Pop a hundred times, and it never ceases to amaze me. I can’t blame Casey for her poor sense of foreboding during that call, because when I’m making Jiffy Pop, it’s all I’m able to focus on, too.
Jiffy Pop has been around since 1959 and certainly didn’t need pub from Scream to survive, but I’m still convinced that it’s this scene that made Jiffy Pop such a thing with people of my generation. Hell, even 20+ years later, it’s still cashing residuals.
Midway through the film, neighborhood pests Irv and Blaire Kendall settle in to watch Wheel of Fortune. Unbeknownst to them, their beautiful bowl of buttered popcorn had been infiltrated by a killer spider. (And indeed, it does kill them. Poor Mimi!)
Old ass Arachnophobia is just as effective as ever, thanks the laborious practical effects that by their nature will never feel dated. It took clever editing and parlor tricks, sure, but by and large, the spiders you see in the film are real spiders that were really on set.
While the spiders’ ferociousness and toxicity were pure Hollywood, the biggest scares came from feasibly everyday moments — like spiders in the shower, or around the toilet, or yes, even hidden in a bowl of Pop Secret!
There was plenty of popcorn onscreen when the gremlins watched Snow White, but one of the monsters went the extra mile.
The “Popcorn Gremlin” — who made enough of an impression to land a page on the Gremlins Wiki — bopped along to the music while wearing buttery bags over his ears, warming our hearts and making us wish that certain gremlins could’ve been corralled into some kind of zoo rather than outright obliterated.
PS: The NECA toy company — which has been the driving force in keeping the franchise alive for these last many years — recently chose this guy for its first-ever Ultimate Gremlin figure. He’ll debut this October, so make sure you don’t blow all of your money on Count Chocula.
Troll 2! (1990)
My sincere love for Troll 2 is already on record. Despite its reputation, there’s an effective little movie in there, even if the crude and clumsy execution is what makes it so famous.
I’d also contend that the director was a little more in on the joke than we give him credit for. Even with his shoestring budget and iffy English, some scenes were too damn corny for the vibe to be purely accidental.
Take this scene, for instance, which was literally corny. Here we had Creedence Leonore Gielgud — the witchy leader of the Goblins — tempting young Brent into the sack by using corn on the cob as a sex toy.
As they make out (or bite from the same cob, whatever), the corn starts to pop, and Creedence’s true intentions are revealed: She wanted to trap the poor guy under mountains of popcorn!
Why she wanted to do this is another question. I guess we were supposed to view it as some grisly murder-by-popcorn, even if Brent only barely seemed incapacitated.
(The whole scene is set to stock porno music. Troll 2 is excellent.)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space! (1988)
If you’ve never seen Killer Klowns from Outer Space, please fix that. It’s great, and not just because you get to look at a bunch of 1980s candy bars.
The titular aliens use a volley of clown-specific means to ply their trade. Most famous is their habit of encasing humans in cotton candy cocoons, which slowly transforms ’em into gooey, bloody drinks.
(That the Chiodo Brothers ran with stuff like this and still managed to keep Killer Klowns from feeling too much like a spoof was either a minor miracle or a major testament to their talent. Or, you know, both.)
On the popcorn side of things, we had the “popcorn bazooka” — which seems to only fire plain popcorn that would at worst be a small inconvenience. Hey, give those Klowns some credit! In reality, each piece can grow into a baby Killer Klown, ready to maim from the first minute!
Thank you for reading about… *checks notes* …five scenes from horror movies that have something to do with popcorn. Yes.
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