Before Cannon pictures and a few other “modest” budgeted studios, there was this little movie company that had huge ambitions. Founded in 1967, Avco Embassy went on to make some memorable hit genre films during the early 80’s. This was made possible under the stewardship of President and CEO Robert Rehme.
By focusing on lower budgeted films, Avco, the little studio that could, actually did! A few solid films ranging from 1979 to 1981 were very successful if not instant cult classics.
What also worked in the company’s favor was AIP (American International Pictures) abandoning the Grindhouse/Exploitation field. Thus there were no real competition standing in Avco’s way.
At the height of the company’s success (revenue that increased from $20 million to $90 million), Rehme had decided to leave the company in 1981.
I could go on with what soon followed after Rehme’s departure as the company was sold to TV producer Norman Lear, but I rather focus on the height of the company’s monumental rise due in part to films from James Glickenhaus’ The Exterminator, Don Scorelli’s Phantasm, Joe Dante’s The Howling, Cronenberg’s Scanners to of course, John Carpenter’s Escape from New York.
These films helped to not only springboard the careers of the aforementioned directors but further established the credibility of Avco Films.
Sometime afterwards, the company had transitioned into what is deemed as a polar opposite of the cult film production company that many of us knew and loved.
As a kid, I had fond memories of my older brother taking me to the theaters at Times Square and was fortunate enough to see Avco’s double features on a huge screen, as it was meant to be seen.
I applauded when John Eastman exterminated a pedophile like some marshmallow, cheered when Snake escaped from New York, stunned as the phantasmal Tall Man yelled ”Boooyyyy” while Billy was snatched into the abyss of oblivion and shocked as a man got “Scannered”.
These were just modest examples of my great cinematic experiences while growing up and are forever cemented in my heart because of the concepts and executions from Avco’s library gave me just a glimpse of what’s yet to come from other films and production studios in the near future. Avco Embassy Pictures may be gone, but never forgotten.