A New Documentary on Empire Pictures is Coming!

By PoeForevermore Staff

Documentarian Daniel Griffith is embarking on an exciting new project called “Wizards in the Video Wasteland, the Empire Pictures Saga”. Read the interview below, and if you loved the great exploitation films of the 1980s, like “Re-Animator” and the “Puppet Master” films, consider supporting his Kickstarter campaign. Griffith creates superb documentaries on film and this is sure to be another entertaining and informative winner!

PoeForevermore: What made you choose Empire Pictures as a subject for a documentary out of all the other studios in film history?

Daniel Griffith:  About seven years ago, I started producing documentaries for Shout! Factory's "Mystery Science Theater 3000" box sets. I was basically chronicling the 'behind the scenes' stories about films that were riffed on the show. Films that would never get a special edition DVD or Blu-ray with hours of bonus features. While I was working on those documentaries, I realized that I never get the opportunity to explore my generations B-movies. To me, the Empire films were merely the 1980's counterpart to the American International Pictures releases of the 50's and 60's. Charles Band manufactured his films for a specific audience, just like James Nicholson did for AIP. Even more intriguing was the fact that most of the cast and crew on the Empire productions grew up watching those features. So, I found the concept of chronicling the rise and fall of a low-budget motion picture studio in the 1980's appealing.

PoeForevermore: What Empire films were you first exposed to?

Daniel Griffith: I was limited to what I could watch at the theater, especially since most of the Empire films didn't make it to my hometown multi-plex. I had to rely on my local 'mom & dad' video store to stock those titles. I was an early Lovecraft fan (we share the same birthdate), so I immediately wanted to see "Re-Animator" when it hit the shelves. I remember staying up late one Saturday night waiting on my Grandparents to go to bed so I could pop the film into the VCR. But the film that made the most impression on me was "Eliminators". At the time, it was the closest thing comic fans could get to an Avengers-type movie. Now that I say that out loud, I kind of feel sorry for us kids back then. Hehe.

PoeForevermore: How did Charles Band react to his story being told in your documentary?

Daniel Griffith: He was a little resistant, in the beginning. I'm not sure if he knew what to make of me or the project. But I assured him I wouldn't move forward without his blessing and support. That being said, the documentary isn't just the 'Charles Band' story. The saga of Empire Pictures involves many of the innovative filmmakers that worked together to reinvent and reinvigorate the independent film industry in the 1980's. Band is merely the foundation for their story to come alive.

PoeForevemore: What do you hope to accomplish with this story?

Daniel Griffith: I  hope to tell the story of a young, enigmatic producer who created the ultimate monster... a  motion picture studio. As the documentary progresses, we begin to see that beast evolve into an uncontrollable B-movie machine. A creature that eventually takes control and brings the creator down with it. The audience will be able to experience exactly what caused Empire Pictures to crash and burn upon the sticky floors of empty movie theaters.

The Kickstarter Campaign for the Empire Pictures documentary, “Celluloid Wizards in the Video Wasteland, the Empire Pictures Saga”,  is here:

Contribute now! The campaign is over 12 November , 2015!



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