Celebrating B Movies, Cult Films, and Indie Classics.

Empire Records (1995)

by  |  September 9th, 2011  |  Comedy

Now I know that just about everyone I have talked to about their formative years as a teenager would say this about the decade that ushered them in to adulthood, but for me I gotta say that there was a lot of great things about the 90s that I will always remember very fondly… Among many things, notably the music and the movies…

In my opinion especially in the early to mid 1990s saw a time when there was some truly great talent creating some truly superb and extremely memorable heavy metal music, such bands as White Zombie (with such hits as Astrocreep 2000 among so many others,) another great metal band is the world famous band, Metallica (in my opinion one of the best bands to grace the heavy metal music scene), along with so many others!

And as for movies, this decade saw a lot of truly fantastic movies, such as in my opinion one of the last truly great romantic comedies to come out of the 1990s, 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) with Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight), Fight Club (1999) with Brad Pitt (Cool World), along with literally countless others!

Now you might be wondering why I have been a little nostalgic here… Well the reason being is that I recently watched a movie that I haven’t seen since I was about 15… That movie being, Empire Record (1995):

Written by: Carol Heikkinnen (Sagamore) and Directed by: Allan Moyle (Exhibit A: Secrets Of Forensic Science).  Starring: Anthony LaPaglia (Mixed Nuts), Johnny Whitworth (The Rainmaker), Liv Tyler (The Lord Of The Rings Series), Rory Cochrane (The Low Life), Robin Tunney (The Craft), Ethan Embry (White Squall) and Renee Zellweger (Bridget Jones’s Diary).

Now Empire Records besides being the name on the title of this movie, also happens to be the name of the store as well…

With that said, Empire Records (being a small independent music store) is managed by an ex Musician by the name of Joe Reaves (LaPaglia) and a group of teens that include Lucas (Cochrane), A.J. (Whitworth), Debra (Tunney), Gina (Zellweger), Corey (Tyler), Mark (Embry), Berko (Played by: Coyote Shivers), Eddie (Played by: James Wills).

Corey (Tyler), Joe (Lapaglia), Berko (Shivers), Lucas (Cochrane), Eddie (Wills), A.J. (Whitworth) and Debra (Tunney) as they are trying to help Deb handle her suicidal impulses by staging a mock funeral.

Now the only problem in all of this, is that the store is owned by this white bread middle class yuppie type by the name of Mitch (Played by: Ben Bode).  Now Mitch doesn’t like the store, he actually down right hates the store and wants to turn the store in to a Music Town franchise (a local chain store…) So of course Joe is planning to buy in to the store as a partner, with the plan to buy the store entirely from him eventually…

That is until one night when he decides to let Lucas close the store…

You see that night while Lucas is closing the store (and disobeying Joe’s rules for closing the store.) Lucas comes across a contract to turn Empire Records in to a local chain store of Music Town.

Lucas as he is preparing to close up shop for the evening.

Well Lucas decides to take his love of music to far, and using this Zen philosophy that he has recently acquired, decides to go to Atlantic City to gamble with the days earnings for Empire Records with the intention of turning a profit in the hopes of saving the store!  This plan start off well enough…

You see after Lucas gets to the Craps tables he decides to bet all of the 9,000 plus dollars on one lucky role of the dice, and wins! The only problem is that he ends up getting greedy and decides to put everything on the line for another lucky role, which ends up with him loosing the entire days earning… After that Lucas to disappear for a little bit…

Now the following day is a big day for the Empire crew, because Rex Manning (The local aging music super star.  Played by: Maxwell Caulfield) is making a personal appearance at the store… But of course the day is started off on a bad foot when Joe discovers that Lucas hasn’t put the previous days earnings in to the banks…

Rex Manning (Caulfield) and the kid who tried to shop lift from the store, Warren (Played by: Brendan Sexton III)

Still though, the show must go on… And as the employee’s are making their way in to work that morning, A.J. and Mark run in to Lucas, who happens to have fallen asleep sitting on his motorcycle, and after a brief conversation, Lucas decides to take off (which helps A.J. to realize that Lucas had taken off with the money.)

Now after this goes down, and everyone else has arrived, Joe is frantically searching for the money and trying to find Lucas… Now just before the Empire Records crew opens up the store, Lucas decides to show back up to face the music and confront Joe with the mistake that he made…

Now after Joe finds out what Lucas is doing Joe now is faced with a mountain of problems, including a visiting celebrity, what to do with Lucas (with whom Joe has been watching out for since he was a kid,) and to make every effort to re-aquire the money before his boss (Mitch) finds out what is going on, during a day that no one who works for Empire Records will ever forget, and that will determine the fate of the store!

Corey, A.J. and Mark

With that said, what I like about this movie, and what I think makes this a truly awesome B movie is a couple of things:

1. Seeing this movie again after so many years was a fun bit of nostalgia, but was also an interesting look at people back then who were playing teens, but who by today’s standards are playing very much adult roles (such as Ethan Embry playing a Detective on the TV series, Brotherhood, Liv Tyler playing the title role of ‘Arwen’ in, The Lord Of The Rings series.  Or heck, even Renee Zellweger who has done movies like, the Bridget Jones series!)

2. This is interesting, but according to the research that I was able to find on this movie, Carol Heikkinnen who wrote this movie about a group of people trying to fight to save their small time independent music store from being taken over by a corporate chain, was actually working at one of the biggest chain music stores at the time that she wrote this movie (Tower Records).

With that said folks, besides this being a fun bit of nostalgia of the 90s, this movie also is a fun viewing experience that you guys might wanna check out!

Please enjoy this scene from the movie, Empire Records (1995):

Nathan Strack


Nathan Strack is a Writer/Director/Filmmaker & Owner/Founder of: Hell In Space, Strack Web Design Service & Strack Store.

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