2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 17: Empire of the Dark (1991)

17. HEADS OFF AT THE PASS: Something with a decapitation in it.

The Aftermath was, I believed, the shining career moment of auteur Steve Barkett, but man I was wrong. So wrong.

I referred to Barkett in that review as someone that “looks like every stepfather in the late 70’s and early 80’s, the kind of guy that takes you fishing even though you don’t really want to go and says stuff like, “I really care about your mother” and “You don’t have to call me dad, unless you want to” while at nights you ball your fists up and sob hot, wet tears while he and your beloved mother act out the next ten pages in Dr. Alex Comfort’s The Joy of Sex.”

This one takes place nine years later, so just imagine. He’s been your stepdad awhile, things went weird but kind of bonded and now your mom is dead and he still wants to be in your life but has gone full Q-Anon. This would be the hero of this tale, Richard Flynn, who really does have a maybe son in this played by his real son, and it’s all about a woman cucking a demon lord with a detective which doesn’t seem all that smart but there you go, that’s the world of Empire of the Dark. The end of all this is that Angela, the love of our hero’s life, is about to be killed — as is her son — by Godfrey Ho’s multi-xeroxed actor Richard Harrison, so Richard makes the choice, saves the kid and lives with it.

A few years — maybe twenty — later and we have a Demon Slasher on the loose and Angela coming to Richard in his dreams. What follows is pure scum magic, as the grocery store from Cobra gets ripped off, Joe Pilato shows up with his guts unchoked upon and his hair frosted white and his ability to overact still in place, ninja demon Satan worshippers attack at will, every woman wants a mustache ride from our amply proportioned ex-cop bounty hunter stepdad leading man, sword fights and training montages, more women wanting to taste some of that Frito-dust laden poon broom on Richard’s mug, puppet demons, priests blessing guns, headlobbing and all long dead lovers coming back from the other side and you can only imagine what problems that causes for social security and taxes because just changing your married name can be a real handful.

My God, this movie is wonderful. It’s as if in the intervening decade Barkett dreamed of making something dorkier than his first movie and by all that’s bad in movies, he did it. And I love him for it. I wish he made fifty more films, but the two he did get out there still have the power to destroy minds.

You can get this from VCI.

One thought on “2021 Scarecrow Psychotronic Challenge Day 17: Empire of the Dark (1991)

  1. When I Google “Steve Barkett,” with ALL of the probable Steve Barkett’s in the world, that OUR Steve Barkett’s name pops, first — along with The Aftermath — well, the cyberworld is just better for it.


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