“We will release 2,000 films by the year 2000.” It was an ambitious statement spoken by Empire Pictures president Charles Band in 1986—perhaps even a doomed one. A new documentary sets out to reveal what contributed to this B-movie studio’s downfall, as well as celebrate its gloriously cheesy triumphs.
Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland: The Saga of Empire Pictures, a project produced and directed by Daniel Griffith, was successfully funded on Kickstarter last November. Griffith is widely known for past documentaries he’s directed for the MST3K DVD sets. While trying to get the project funded, Griffith summed up what to expect:
The thrilling saga of Empire Pictures is told through the eyes of the innovative team of filmmakers and film professionals who worked together to reinvent and reinvigorate the independent film industry in the 1980's. The documentary also features never-before-seen footage, production stills, and rare glimpses at the motion pictures that were in development when the studio was dramatically seized by the bank.
The trailer mostly consists of footage from Empire Pictures’ catalog, including more famous offerings like Re-Animator and Ghoulies, but also gems of B-movie badness like Robot Jox, The Dungeonmaster, and many, many more. It’s definitely worth the watch, if for no other reason than to let yourself experience some of that cult cinema nostalgia.
Follow the Celluloid Wizards Facebook page for updates on when you’ll be able to feast your eyeballs on the completed documentary.