Looking for a ridiculously entertaining Halloween “party movie” this year to watch with a group of friends and a few cold ones? Well look no further, ‘Empire of the Dark’ from 1990 is one helluva great time for a gang of rowdy cinefiles. It’s written, produced, edited & directed by it’s star, the highly unlikely action hero Steve Barkett! Yeah Barkett’s vision here is obviously to put himself smack dab in the middle of full on ridiculous, over the top action, horror, drama and ultra cheez’d out romance. As the true jack of all trades in front of and behind the camera Barkett admittedly has a certain undeniable charm about him, an almost vintage Shatner-esque way of moving through the mayhem. He’s certainly NOT your typical action hero, the slightly out of shape, sweatpants wearing, ass kicker doesn’t need to fit the mold as he’s clearly got enough passion in the project to prove all the naysayers wrong. At least he tries his damndest!
Everything about this movie is highly ambitious, as he clearly didn’t have a gigantic budget, he fully utilizes every trick in the book to attempt to make this one as epic looking as possible. Sometimes it actually works too, he’s got monster cult members, a huge stop motion/puppet demon and a few set pieces that have me scratching my head wondering just how the hell he pulled some of this all off at all. The plot too is pretty sweet as well, we’ve got heroic policeman (Steve Barkett of COURSE!) who steps through a time vortex to a different dimension to save the woman he loves (whom he was having an affair with) and her newborn baby from a “sinister” satanic cult.
He escapes the cult saving only the baby, leaving his lover behind to die and we flash forward 20 years later. Barkett is now an ex-cop master swordsman, who still longs for his past love. That doesn’t stop him from being quite the ladies man of course, Barkett has surely got some pick up lines that wouldn’t fly today. We follow him as he slowly becomes convinced his lost love is somehow still alive and that the sinister cult has indeed returned to wreck havoc in the small town. From this point on things get even more ridiculous in the most charmingly idiotic ways. Bad sword fights, a terrible training montage, “steamy” sex scenes, supernatural encounters and utterly moronic dialogue make this one the perfect Halloween party movie.
Barkett clearly had a solid vision for this little ridiculous adventure as it’s jammed packed with “interesting” characters, some surprisingly solid special fx for the time, babes, monsters and even some sweet gore. Barkett even goes the distance with the romance making sure his character has plenty of it on display as well as some solidly stupid attempts at drama. The whole thing is a giant damn ball of idiotic fun, a full on Steve Barkett vanity project that was a true pleasure to watch for the first time. If you’re a fan of stuff like ‘Troll 2’ or ‘The Room’ then you’ve got to hunt this one down, it’s a better great bad movie than both!! Grab a copy on dvd HERE!!
I was lucky enough to be able to check out the latest 1980’s throwback monster movie ‘The Void’ at the Hollywood Theater here in Portland Oregon last night. I’m pretty fucking stoked that I’m so close to one of the coolest theaters in the country that’s constantly giving us here alternatives to the huge Hollywood blockbusters continuously cranked out. If you’re ever in Portland I highly suggest checking out this place as it always has several incredibly unique events and movies happening there. But I digress, The Void was definitely a thrill to see on the big screen!
I’ve been waiting for this one for quite a while and right now it’s showing all across the country at select theaters. If you’re a fan of classic 1980’s horror flicks like ‘The Thing’, ‘Reanimator’ & ‘Hellraiser’ you’re in for quite a treat. ‘The Void’ captures the look and feel of films like these with ease, similarly creating an incredibly unsettling sense of dread throughout. Seeing it at the particular venue I did intensified the experience, along with the fact I smoked some pot (hey it’s legal here now so get off my back!) before and I felt a little bit like I was transported back to simpler times when horror flicks were at the peak of their charm. It’s story is pretty simple at it’s surface, taking place almost entirely inside a lonely hospital during a graveyard shift. We meet a group of people whose quiet night soon becomes a descent into total madness as the hospital becomes surrounded by a weird ass masked cult dressed in white robes with black triangles displayed upon their hoods. Continue reading