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ALL HAIL THE POPCORN KING Review–Celebrating the Works of Joe R. Lansdale

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Starring Joe R. Lansdale, Bruce Campbell, Tony Timpone, Del Howison

Written by Hansi Oppenheimer

Directed by Hansi Oppenheimer


Having written over 50 novels and 500 short stories, Joe R. Lansdale is a legend to many but notoriously unrecognized by most. The prolific Texan writer, whose work has crossed so many genres is now the subject of All Hail the Popcorn King, a documentary that strips away the gloss and overproduction while showing a down-home look at a master of storytelling, through the eyes of friends and peers, and the man himself.

Directed by Hansi Oppenheimer, All Hail the Popcorn King follows Lansdale, as the author talks about his upbringing, learning about things such as an appreciation for storytelling and filmmaking, all the way to racism and various issues with human complexity early on. This is something that would inform his writing, tackling the conflicting walks of life so perfectly that his writing is unparalleled. Featuring interviews with everyone from The Evil Dead‘s Bruce Campbell, horror journalist legend Tony Timpone, and even Dark Delicacies owner/author Del Howison, all talking about what makes Lansdale’s writing so iconic. Touching on his Hap & Leonard series, his story for the Don Coscarelli gem Bubba Ho-Tep and more, Oppenheimer does a great job of showing the down-home approach the author puts forth so well.

Fans of Lansdale will be in heaven, listening to the writer talk about his craft and what led to it, while also showing his knowledge of where he came from. The doc almost veers into history lessons at time and it never once feels out of place. The “aw-shucks” vibe that Lansdale holds brings the viewer in, wanting to know more about the author and when people like David J. Schow talk about having decades-long friendships with the scribe, you believe it. Joe seems like someone you could have a beer or coffee with and talk all things sci-fi or horror.

All Hail the Popcorn King goes into unexpected territory in its moments when Lansdale talks about his passion for martial arts and creating the Shen Chuan method, combing many types into one, competing and teaching just as much as he writes. The guy actually holds a place in the United States AND International martial arts hall of fame. It’s a sweet series of moments in the film, showcasing Lansdale’s passion for the arts, something that adds a humorous touch to the doc. When Bruce Campbell explains that Joe can “kick my ass” if he wanted to, the reverence that Campbell, Timpone and many others hold for the author is endearing. When the film is closing up, there’s a sequence that lasts a couple of minutes, where friends, family and fans talk about what Lansdale means to them and It’s hard not to feel a bit emotional, seeing how much of a mark that the writer has already left on so many people, including Batman/Ben 10/Camp Camp voice actor Yuri Lowenthal.

All Hail the Popcorn King isn’t your typical puff piece on a legendary writer; what it IS, is a love letter to a writer who has left his mark on multiple genres and lives, and it feels more personal than a lot of docs of its kind.

It’s easy to get lost in the craft of our favorite authors, the way they weave stories into our minds and allow us to live vicariously through those stories. But what All Hail the Popcorn King does so well, is allowing its viewer to really get to know the man behind so many spectacular novels and stories, showing how down to Earth Joe is. It’s a really entertaining albeit short documentary, allowing us a chance to step into the life of the award-winning but criminally underlooked writing legend.

  • ALL HAIL THE POPCORN KING
3.0

Summary

All Hail the Popcorn King isn’t your typical puff piece on a legendary writer; what it IS, is a love letter to a writer who has left his mark on multiple genres and lives, and it feels more personal than a lot of docs of its kind.

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