Exhumed Films presents:
The Empire Pictures Marathon
Five feature films, plus a sneak preview of the new Empire Pictures documentary--with the director in attendance!
Charles Band is perhaps the most prolific producer/director of genre cinema outside of Roger Corman. For over forty years, Band has made an incalculable contribution to horror and science-fiction cinema, and nowhere was this more evident than during the years of his releasing company, Empire Pictures. Throughout the mid to late 1980s, Empire Pictures unleashed some of the most outrageous and iconic genre films into theaters worldwide. Although low on budget and sometimes churned out in assembly line fashion, Band’s Empire Pictures releases were always clever, creative, and—perhaps most importantly—profitable. Exhumed Films is proud to present a celebration of some of Empire’s finest moments, along with a sneak preview of a new documentary detailing the history of Empire Pictures! Our lineup will include:
1985 / 35mm / Dir. Stuart Gordon / 86 min.
Stuart Gordon’s macabre dark comedy RE-ANIMATOR is widely regarded as a modern classic of horror cinema, but many forget that it was also one of the first (and most successful) films released by Empire Pictures. A loose adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s pulp fiction serial from the 1920s, RE-ANIMATOR is a gruesome, post-modern satire of both zombie movies and the classic “Frankenstein” story. Creepy medical student Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs, in a star making role) enlists his colleague and roommate Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) to help with his experiments in reanimating dead tissue. But when the pair moves from resurrecting dead cats to re-animating the deceased college dean and a surgeon’s severed head, things quickly take a decided turn for the worse. Also starring Barbara Crampton and David Gale, RE-ANIMATOR is a gory, goofy good time.
1986 / 35mm / Dir. Peter Manoogian / 96 min.
ELIMINATORS was Empire Pictures’ attempt at a comic book action-adventure film, and what it may lack in budget it more than makes up for in charm and enthusiasm. A pilot downed in a plane crash is resurrected as a half human/half machine “Mandroid” by the evil scientist, Dr. Reeves. The Mandroid eventually escapes from Reeves’s clutches with the help of the noble Dr. Takeda, and then joins forces with a mercenary riverboat captain, a kind—and kinda sexy—scientist (STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION’S Denise Crosby), and Takeda’s son, who obviously is a ninja since he is Japanese. Together, this ragtag team and their adorable little robot buddy, Spot, must stop the nefarious Dr. Reeves before he can travel back in time to alter the course of history! It’s no masterpiece, but as far as super hero team-up films go, we’d take ELIMINATORS over BATMAN V SUPERMAN any day of the week.
1986 / 35mm / Dir. David Schmoeller / 80 min.
Never let it be said Charles Band didn’t know how to save a buck: the producer re-used the apartment complex sets from the Empire Pictures hit film TROLL and created an entire new movie around them. That film is CRAWLSPACE, a nasty thriller starring everybody’s favorite screen (and real life) psychopath, Klaus Kinski. The infamous German method actor plays a tenement landlord who is also the demented offspring of a Nazi butcher. Kinski follows in the old man’s footsteps by turning the apartment complex into a malevolent maze of hidden passages and torture chambers for the unfortunate tenants who find themselves in his grasp. Directed by David Schmoeller, who covered similar ground in 1979’s TOURIST TRAP, and who would go on to film one of Charles Band’s biggest hits, PUPPETMASTER.
1986 / 35mm / Dir. Stuart Gordon / 86 min.
Looking to recapture the magic of their hit film RE-ANIMATOR, Band’s Empire Pictures reunited the team of director Stuart Gordon, writer Dennis Paoli, and stars Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton for another H.P. Lovecraft adaptation. The result was FROM BEYOND, a science-fiction monster movie that comes very close to matching the fun and audacity of its predecessor. Ostensibly an adaptation of a very short and simplistic Lovecraft tale, FROM BEYOND clearly takes equal inspiration from John Carpenter’s THE THING and the “Body Horror” films of David Cronenberg. A pair of scientists, Dr. Pretorius (Ted Sorel) and Dr. Tillinghast (Combs), perform experiments attempting to stimulate mankind’s latent psychic abilities; in the process, though, they open a portal to another dimension and unleash the inhuman creatures that exist there. When Pretorius is seemingly killed and Tillinghast driven insane, a skeptical psychiatrist (Crampton) and determined detective (DAWN OF THE DEAD’s Ken Foree) try to get to the bottom of things by recreating their experiments, with predictably horrific results. FROM BEYOND features some fantastic practical effects work from Empire Pictures stalwart John Buechler (GHOULIES, CELLAR DWELLER) and the underrated Mark Shostrom (EVIL DEAD II, PHANTASM II).
1987 / 35mm / Dir. Stuart Gordon / 77 min.
Gordon returned to the Empire fold once again in 1987, this time for an original horror tale from Ed Naha, the writer of TROLL. It’s your stereotypical “Old Dark House” story, featuring a family whose car breaks down in the middle of a thunderstorm, forcing them to take cover in the obligatory creepy mansion. There, they discover a seemingly kindly old couple and their collection of antique dolls. Before long, however, it is revealed that the old couple is not quite so kindly, and their porcelain pals are actually diminutive devils! Full of the gory set pieces and dark humor that Stuart Gordon has become known for, DOLLS is a fun, fractured fairy tale that would presage Charles Band’s later penchant for further “tiny terror” movies like SUBSPECIES, PUPPETMASTER, and DEMONIC TOYS.
PLUS! As an added bonus, Exhumed Films is thrilled to present a sneak preview of CELLULOID WIZARDS IN THE VIDEO WASTELAND: THE SAGA OF EMPIRE PICTURES. This new documentary by director Daniel Griffith aims to be the definitive history of Charles Band’s revolutionary production company, and features interviews with many of the major players: Empire Pictures mastermind Charles Band and his brother, composer Richard Band; directors Stuart Gordon, C. Courtney Joyner, David DeCocteau, and John Carl Buechler; actors Tim Thomerson, Barbara Crampton, and Gerrit Graham; and many more! Set to officially premiere later this year, Exhumed audiences will be the among the first to see this exciting documentary. Director Daniel Griffiths will be in attendance, along with Empire film props, merchandise, and other surprises!