Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mystery Movie: EMPIRE OF EVIL (April 1983)

Less than a month after Ronald Reagan referred to the Soviet Union as an "empire of evil" during a speech before the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando on March 8, 1983, something titled -- or more likely retitled -- EMPIRE OF EVIL showed up on a triple bill at the Memphis Drive-In in Cleveland, sandwiched between DEMONOID and BLOOD BEACH. We'd love to know the true identity of this mystery movie. Earlier in the week a few of our Facebook followers suggested everything from FORCE:FIVE and RAW FORCE to THE CASTLE OF FU MANCHU and the G-rated ARABIAN ADVENTURE, but the truth is we'll probably never find out what EMPIRE OF EVIL is unless a print with that title card or shipping label turns up -- or someone who actually attended this triple bill in April '83 comes forward with the answer.

UPDATE (8/23/14): The following ad comes from TOS reader Jesse Hoheisel, as evidence that ARABIAN ADVENTURE (1979) was reissued in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in 1982 under the title MAJIC AND THE EMPIRE OF EVIL. Frank Moreno, former v.p. in charge of distribution at New World Pictures, handled the film during this re-release. We did some digging and found out that it may also have been retitled TREASURES OF THE EMPIRE OF EVIL when Moreno stepped in as president of Almi Pictures later in '83.

"EMPIRE OF EVIL is obviously the truncated name of MAJIC AND THE EMPIRE OF EVIL," Jesse wrote to us on FB. "As for the R-rating, I'm sure the folks at the Memphis Drive-In are the ones who made the mistake." Advertising the G-rated ARABIAN ADVENTURE (which had already played cable TV by this point) as an R-rated film titled EMPIRE OF EVIL is a mistake that probably didn't make horror fans very happy!

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