The History of Empire Films Part Seven – Films Never Made (1980-1989)

 

I Eat Cannibals (1980) Ted Nicolaou’s forgotten action comedy. This was to be the “the most ferocious story of revenge ever filmed.”

1984 Leatherbabies (1984)
Leatherbabies (1984) Story unknown at this time.

1985 Alter Ego (1985) 2
Alter Ego (1985) Directed by Peter Manoogian (Arena), another early Paul De Meo and Danny Bilson effort that was to star Jeffrey Byron (of Empire’s The Dungeonmaster) as a sci-fi hero pitched halfway between Mandroid and Jack Deth. The film never got beyond initial planning due to lack of interest from international buyers. Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator) and Rob Goethals (Swamp Thing) were also attached as producer & writer at a stage prior to Bilson/De Meo coming on board.


Crimelord (1985) Some kind of crime/cop movie .

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Decapitron (1986)  Interchangeable technology is a popular theme at Empire. One of the more ambitious films is Decapitron, currently subtitled “The Devastation Creation” and also written by Paul De Meo and Danny Bilson. The Decapitron is a robot with five different heads: a surveillance head, which is an extremely sophisticated information gathering and observation device, an omnitech head, which is an all-purpose utility-super analyzer unit useful for biochemical breakdowns, medical diagnosis and crime detection; a humanoid head, which can simulate the appearance of any human male in his mid-thirties; a war head with advanced firepower, and finally, a doomsday head, the ultimate weapon of last resort.

The film was to be directed by Peter Manoogian, however, following the collapse of Empire Studios in 1989, and no doubt fueled by the cool reception given to Empire’s other ‘big’ picture Robot Jox, the script was finally shelved. Bilson & De Meo then went on to write the screenplay for the Disney’s The Rocketeer in 1991. The character of Decapitron was, however, to re-appear in micro-form as one of the puppets in Jeff Burr’s entry in the Full Moon killer toy franchise Puppet Master 4 and Puppet Master 5.

Paul De Meo acknowledges that “Decapitron” is an outgrowth of Eliminators, which was an intriguing idea. Charles Band wanted to go further with it. While the Mandroid is half man, half machine, the Decapitron is all robot. Unlike the Terminator, he’s the good guy. He has a kid sidekick, and they go into a city which has its own rules there’s been a plague in the city and it is under quarantine. The inhabitants are survivors of a biological disaster.”

Bilson and De Meo believe that a good sense of humor delicately applied can compensate for a less than generous budget. Trancers derives humor from its bizarre situation and future slang. In Eliminators, the Mandroid keeps commenting on how unbelievable and comic-book-like the whole thing is, putting the audience on his side. De Meo is aware that the proper tone for a picture is important. He and Bilson like to add humor but they are making action pictures, not comedies. Also, I may be wrong, but I remember hearing this film would’ve been Charles Band’s most expensive picture ever.

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Why then are you spending $10 million on Decapitron?
Charles Band: If one or two pictures out of 25 cost that much and all the rest average $2-3 million, we’re still pretty true to our formula. There are pictures that will cost more only because of what it’ll take to make them. It’s not because we’re putting in a $4 million star or spending a million dollars on a director. Decapitron has huge amounts of special effects, pyrotechnics, pieces of city blocks getting blown up it’s just an expensive movie to make. Sometimes a project comes along that we’re so excited about that we want to do it justice. Many pictures we make are designed to be made on a budget, but we don’t want to short- change the story or the movie itself. You can make, in theory, a brilliant horror film if your location is a house. You don’t need $20 million and a lot of special effects. On From Beyond, for example, we have not only John Buechler, who is our close effects associate involved, but we have three other FX teams, too. There’s a huge amount of special effects half the budget of this expensive picture Is going to effects. But again, if your picture takes place In a house in this case, a very large house it’s limited in many potential costs. But If your picture takes place in the future on some planet, in Los Angeles on city streets, with many effects, it costs money. In the case of Decapitron and one other picture that we’ll be announcing soon, the budgets are up there. But everything else is averaged out at about $3 million.

“I did read the DECAPITRON script. It was pretty good though there was a fundamental flaw in the premise. The central character was supposed to carry 5 or 6 replacement heads capable of different functions. Since, in reality, the heads would be masks worn by an actor, they would have to be larger than normal. The script described him carrying them in something the size of a briefcase when it would really have to be the size of a footlocker. Imagine a character dodging bullets and running through action scenes lugging something that big!” – Kenneth J. Hall (film-maker)

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1986 Barbarian Women (1986)
Barbarian Women (1986) Another sword and sorcery film, probably set in the future or another dimension.

1986 Bloodless (1986) 2
Bloodless (1986) Jungle/Ancient horror maybe. Slasher or vampire. Anyone got anything?


Journeys Through The Darkzone (1986) Written by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo (Eliminators), I got nothing much on this. The title was used later as a tagline for Trancers 4.

Empire Piranha Women poster

1986 Show No Mercy (1986)
Show No Mercy (1986) Would be action flick directed by Peter Manoogian.

1986 Tomb (1986)
Tomb (1986) Unmade jungle thriller.


Murdercycle (1986) Originally titled BATTLE BIKES, info is unknown on this version, but fans would later see this art and title recycled for a future Full Moon release about soldiers fighting a robotic alien.

Empire Vulcana poster
Vulcana (1986) Action/fantasy about a warrior woman.

Charles Band & Jack Kirby Unfilmed Projects

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Mindmaster (1986) involves a scientist who is caught in an accident which leaves him debilitated, and must use a thought-controlled robot he invented to stop a crazed fellow scientist.jack-kirby-doctor-mortalis-rare-movie-concept_1_cf49c0167b0690c67cb9a751b63b4dc0 (2)
Doctor Mortalis (1986) is an all-powerful wizard, the leader of a secret sect of sorcerers known as The Dark Order. His faithful sidekick, “Egghead,” is a witty half-human, half computer genius who possesses fantastic special powers.

Legion of Doom This was going to be Charles Band’s superhero team movie. He once stated that films like Mandroid and Invisible: The Chronicles of Benjamin Knight were efforts to slowly build characters for a team movie. So it’s entirely possible Dark Angel and Doctor Mordrid could have been on the team as well in this movie.

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Berserker (1986) Unfilmed A big fan of RE-ANIMATOR, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stuart Gordon and Dennis Paoli wrote BERSERKER, about a bodybuilder who abuses steroids and becomes a mutant.

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Bloody Bess (1987) Unfilmed Stuart Gordon planned this adventure movie around the time he was making From Beyond, and also first attempting to raise a decent budget for his pet project The Shadow Over Innsmouth. It was to star Jeffrey Combs, and Barbara Crampton as a female pirate, out to drink rum, steal gold, and generally show the boys a thing or two about buckling swashes. Rumour has it ex-Empire director Renny Harlin (Prison, Die Hard 2) must have liked the idea, since he lifted it for his 1995 box-office bomb Cutthroat Island, which I have never bothered to watch.

1987 Pand Evil (1987)
Pand Evil (1987) To be produced and directed by Gorman Bechard (Psychos In Love, Cemetery High).

1987 Fiends (1987)
Fiends (1987) Info not known at this time.

 

PULSEPOUNDERS (1988) Incomplete
An unfinished Empire Pictures film directed by Charles Band, and starring Tim Thomerson, Helen Hunt, Jeffrey Combs, Barbra Crampton, and Richard Moll.

Here’s what I’ve heard Charles Band had to say about PulsePounders: “PULSEPOUNDERS is completely shot, it just needs post-production,” says Band. “I still hope to get it out of the mess it’s tangled up in and release it. David Gale is terrific in it, and with him gone now, it’s all the more reason to get it out where people can see him one last time.”

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Now here’s what Jeffrey Combs had to say: “Pulsepounders is a real curiosity,” Combs says. “It’s a movie – or a segment of a trilogy – that i did back in the 1980’s while over in Italy. As far as I knew, that movie never got finished. Empire Pictures, Charlie Band’s company at that time, tanked. So that film was in pieces and incomplete, and so far as I’d heard just lost in the wars. Now it’s showing up on the internet as something that’s coming out. I did my segment soon after Re-Animator with Barbara Crampton, the late David Gale and David Warner. Other than the dailies I saw at the time, I never heard or saw anything about it again until information about it suddenly turned up on the internet. So who knws about that. Maybe the next time I talk to Charlie Band, I’ll ask him about it.”

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“I was in a segment called ‘The Evil Clergyman‘, based on a Lovecraft story, Combs continues. “They did a short Trancers / Jack Deth story “Trancers: City of Lost Angels” which Helen Hunt was in. And they did one more with Richard Moll, based on another Empire Pictures movie [Dungeonmaster] that had been successful. So it would have been three little odd and hastily connected pieces. They’d all been shot, but they were never able to finish them up.

1989 Zombie Hotel (1989)
Zombie Hotel (1989) “Spend a night with the Living Dead.” Subspecies director Ted Nicolaou was set to direct.

Empire Shackled poster

Apparatus (1989) A Futuristic thriller that was to have been directed by Larry Cohen (It’s Alive) that apparently concerned “Big Brother'” types controlling the masses through apparatus attached to their bodies. Abandoned also when Empire Pictures folded.

1989 Hotel Dick (1989)
Hotel Dick (1989) Another Empire comedy to be produced by Frank Yablans (Buy & Cell, The Caller).

1989 Bimbo Barbeque (1989)
Bimbo Barbeque (1989) A planned sequel to Assault of the Killer Bimbos, a girls on the run sex comedy that inspired THELMA & LOUISE. It’s mentioned in ASSAULT’s end credits.

1989 Entangled (1989)
Entangled (1989) Would’ve been produced by Irwin Yablans (Halloween).

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Floater (1989) Tobe Hooper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1 & 2) signed on to make a $6 million supernatural thriller, one of Band’s occasional attempts at ‘top-drawer’ quality product. Again, the project was abandoned when Empire ceased. Tobe went on to direct Spontaneous Combustion instead.


Subterraneans (1989) Heard this was to be the first of a trilogy about a culture of small evolved apes that live in the NYC Subway Tunnels.

Empire Films Never Made Undated

Empire Arsenal poster
Arsenal A no doubt action adventure.

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Cassex Virtual reality sex comedy.

The Colony
The Colony Apparently about yuppie witches.

Dolls 2
Dolls 2 Director of the original Stuart Gordon was, at one point, very interested in directing a sequel. The initial storyline would have followed surviving characters Judy and Ralph back to Boston in which Ralph would have indeed married Judy’s mother and they would all become a family. Until, one day Judy would receive a box sent from England which would contain the toy makers, Gabriel and Hilary, as dolls. Gabriel was played by Guy Rolfe (Andre Toulon in Puppet Master 3, 4, 5, 7) by the way. It’s unknown to me why it was never made.

InHuman
InHuman Info unknown at this time.

 

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L.A.B.C. Anyone got anything? I suspect this to be a post-apocalyptic film, which were big in the 1980’s.

Empire Parasite II poster
Parasite II Following the Charles Band/Demi Moore original, the sequel never hit the script stage after Embassy Pictures fell apart. According to the poster below, actor Robert Glaudini was expected to return.

Empire Shadow sand Whispers poster
Shadows and Whispers Unknown about this possibly erotic thriller, to be directed by David Schmoeller (Crawlspace).

Empire Space Sluts in the Slammer poster
Space Sluts in the Slammer Possibly part of Charlie’s uncredited erotic Sci-Fi adventures like Slave Girls from Beyond Infinity.

StrangeMagic
Strange Magic I got nothing other than this poster. “The King of Evil is dead. Long live the Queen.”

-tomboftheunproducedhorrormovie

One thought on “The History of Empire Films Part Seven – Films Never Made (1980-1989)

  1. Glad you brought up Kenneth Hall’s problem with Decapitron, cause it was kind of the 800 pound gorilla in the room. Otherwise, I was kind of miffed the film never got made. Could have been a perfectly serviceable little B film. Has a pretty neat pulp fiction sci fi premise.

    Liked by 1 person

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