The three Ps: The Pool, Popcorn, and Prey

In random news, I’ve just watched three movies in a row that are alphabetically listed under P in my horror collection, and since none of them motivated me to write a full dissertation as usual, I’ve crammed them all into one post.

 pool

Take a dip in the pool…of blood

The 2000s began very much like the 80s; as a result of a hugely successful slasher film at the end of the prior decade (Halloween in 78, Scream in 96), we were bombarded by one copycat after another. Several of them were standouts, but the others were just run of the mill formulaic stuff, often saved by some good kills.

2001’s The Pool is so formula you could feed it to a baby. It’s Scream in a pool. Opening scene: chick on the phone in her house, boyfriend dead outside, killer in black with a white skull mask chases chick through house, pool becomes final resting place….

pool killer

Cut to pretty people going to a party being thrown by two rich classmates—at one of the hottest indoor pools EVER. Inside this mansion we have a main pool and then cool water slides that lead to more secluded mini pools. Perfect for private poking and prodding, with wieners and knives.

There are a lot of hot bods, both male and female, excessive drinking and partying, several montages set to alternative rock, and plenty of kills. A silly distraction comes in the form of a detective who is investigating the first murder and needs to locate these kids. The only reason this completely disposable character seems to be in this movie is to ensure there’s a gun on the scene at some point.

There is a deep end to The Pool. We have Sarah, who has a secret she’s keeping about why she won’t go in the water. Which of course means Sarah will be our final girl who will be faced with a life or death decision to get in the damn water.

There are some deliciously brutal murders, the first being a nice big razor that rises up from the water slide as one of the females speeds toward it, legs spread wide. My hypothetical va-jay-jay totally clenched for that one.

pool slide

Then there’s what could have been a nice long chase scene in the locker room that is cut short—literally. From underneath a stall wall, the killer hacks off one chick’s feet! You simply can’t run on stumps. And then there is—the VENT. WTF is with the vent movies lately? This is the most intense scene in the entire movie, with a group of the kids crawling through the shaft as the killer repeatedly rams the knife up through the steel floor of it: totally claustrophobic gruesome pincushion action.

And, just like a plot from any of the Scream films, the remaining survivors are thrown into a conundrum trying to figure out whom they can trust and who is the killer. And as with most Scream era slashers, what kind of ruins the whole thing is that the killer is just a human being, which makes the “he’s getting back up!” moment absolutely ridiculous. But where this film really blows it is with one of the last lines spoken by our final girl to one of the other remaining characters: “I know what you did last summer.” Oh no she didn’t!

popcorn

I’d like some better on my Popcorn…it’s kinda dry and stale…

It just seems like most horror movies didn’t stand a chance of being classics in the early 90s. Even with Dee Wallace, 1991’s Popcorn falls apart, even if it does have a fun “popcorn movie” concept. It even promises to have somewhat of a supernatural twist, but before you know it, it morphs into a pre-Scream slasher with an all-too familiar killer reveal.

Popcorn also suffers from the fact that every movie made between 1989 and 1991 that stars Jill Schoelen feels like the same film. Popcorn, while much cooler with its film school and movie theater theme, is not much more than a rehash of Jill’s 1989 rehash of the classic Phantom of the Opera. In Popcorn, a bunch of film students plan a fundraiser at a dreary movie theater, and soon people are being killed off by some mysterious figure that hides in the shadows of the rafters above.

popcorn jill

Popcorn has a lot going for it. The theater setting and nods to retro horror classics are all in good fun, and there are some notable actors in the cast: the chick from Elm Street 5 who had somewhat of a mustache; the guy who gave Dorothy a job with his video game company on an episode of The Golden Girls; Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High; the dude who bought the 3D renovation of the Amityville house. And then there’s Dee Wallace. Ah, Dee. I’d have to say the creepiest, most atmospheric and suspenseful part of the film is when Dee goes to the theater alone—a moment that promises a pretty good “more than meets the eye” plot that is just completely thrown out the window! To make matters worse, Dee disappears for a majority of the film!

What we’re left with is a close relative of Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge, only in this case, it’s Phantom of the Movies.

Popcorn. Great title. Great promise. Great potential plot. Doomed by the 90s curse…

prey

What do you get when you cross an alien feline and a lesbian couple?

If you answered “a whole lot of pussy jokes,” you win a lucky camel toe. 1978’s Prey (aka: Alien Prey) is one of the oddest horror movies to spawn from the same year that brought us the classic Halloween.

It’s all pretty straightforward…actually, scratch the straight part. There’s this lesbian couple living in this isolated mansion—I call them Butch and Lipstick. There was apparently a “Simon” involved with them at some point. I’m guessing Simon was a man who made Butch jealous, because Lipstick seems to believe Butch killed Simon—unless Simon was a pet and I just missed something.

prey alien

Next, there’s this alien who takes on the form of a man, only occasionally showing his true Cowardly Lion-esque face (An Alion?), mostly when it’s time to feed. When the three come together, the two lesbians have non-stop pussycat fights and the alien spends most of his time salivating over their pet bird.

This shit is a TRIP. Alion, looking like the handsome young man who’s image he took, feigns being hurt and is taken in by the women—against Butch’s wishes. Lipstick really seems torn between dyke and dick. Jealousy abounds, but really, this dude is clearly into bird, not fish, so Butch needs to just chill!

Alion tries to eat human food and keeps puking as a result, the girls do some serious va-jay-jay rubbing, they go hunting for fox (that bush is just his tail, ladies!), and Alion manages to catch the fox in his teeth when the girls aren’t looking. To celebrate, the girls dress Alion in FULL drag—dress, heels, pearls, lipstick, the whole she-bang—although they let him keep his butch haircut.

They party, flirt, play hide and seek, eat fox for dinner, he almost drowns, they save him, Butch beats Lipstick’s head senseless against a flowerpot, Butch chases Alion through the woods, Alion comes back—and Butch flips when she finds Alion eating Lipstick in bed. No, really, he’s eating her raw. Like, gnawing on her flesh—although, with all the blood, it does look like he could be just earning his red wings. Butch runs away and falls in a grave she was digging that seemed to be meant for Lipstick, who she was planning to give the same fate as “Simon”(whoever the frick he was).

After his run-in with lesbians, Alion calls his mother ship and says there’s plenty of easy prey on Earth. The end.

 

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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