The Laser Blast Film Society Presents: Empire of the Dark

When: May 10, 2017 @ 7:30 p.m.

  • PRE-SHOW: 7:30 p.m.
  • FEATURE: 8:00 p.m.

Where: The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street, Toronto, ON

EMPIRE OF THE DARK (1990)
Dir. Steve Barkett
Cast: Steve Barkett, Richard Harrison, Christopher Barkett, Tara Hendrickson
Runtime: 93 min
Country: USA
Format: Digital

Poster Artist: Benjamin Marra

"Non-stop action... Steve Barkett isn't going to win any acting awards for sure, but goddamnit, he is entertaining as hell." - Video Junkie

"EMPIRE OF THE DARK is like what would happen if your fat, out-of-shape, middle-aged dad who liked to stand around in the yard on the weekends with his douche friends waving swords at each other ever decided that merely being the embarrassment of the neighbourhood was insufficient when there was a whole home video market he could be humiliating his relatives in." - Monster Hunter

Twenty years after dispatching the cabal of satanists that sacrificed his girlfriend Angela (Tera Hendrickson), and nearly her newborn baby, bounty hunter beefcake Richard Flynn (Steve Barkett) is shocked to learn that the cult's leader Arkham (Godfrey Ho's muse Richard Harrison) has somehow survived and is now linked to a mysterious series of ritual killings perpetrated by what his latest gal-pal and ace-reporter is calling "The Demon Slasher".

Before long, Flynn finds himself teaming up with a hard-boiled cop and an enigmatic young man (played by the director's real-life son Christopher Barkett), as he descends into hell to battle the forces of evil. Unfortunately for Arkham and his minions, Flynn's grown a moustache and has taken fencing lessons; they don't have a prayer.

Empire of the Dark is a deranged passion project in the tradition of Laser Blast Film Society favourites like The Astrologer and Winterbeast. But where writer/director/editor/producer and star Steve Barkett fumbles with his amusing array of absurd dialogue, inexplicably manic editing, and his frankly unconvincing tough-guy persona, he audaciously succeeds with the film's visual panache, wisely employing an incredible roster of talented visual effects artists. Artists like Academy Award winner Robert Stromberg (Avatar, Maleficent), who conjures up a series of jaw-dropping matte paintings and miniatures throughout the film.

Enveloped by an exceedingly melodramatic and non-stop symphonic score, and peppered with delirious optical effects and endearing stop-motion monsters, Empire of the Dark is a trampoline of a movie, repeatedly reaching its ambition before hilariously tumbling down into sublime silliness.

Trailer Edited by Peter Kuplowsky

The Laser Blast Film Society is made possible in part by the funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.