Turns out, fans have Ethan Embry to thank for the wild idea to include Gwar in the film. Embry’s character, Marc trips out and hallucinates going to one of their shows only to find himself on stage getting swallowed up by a giant worm, an effects-heavy gimmick reserved for the band’s biggest fans. Embry told Complex around the 20th anniversary of “Empire Records” that director Allan Moyle was always open to new ideas:
“We came to him with the idea that Gwar was in town and how rad it would be if we worked them into the movie in some way. He came up with this: Mark eats some brownies that throw him into a psychedelic fantasy. We filmed at the Gwar show. He was game. He gave me a camera operator and a camera and said, ‘Yeah, go do it!’ And it ended up in the movie.”
Embry actually hadn’t seen Gwar in the 20 years since that day, but during an anniversary screening and event put on by BBQ Films at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade record store in 2015, they reunited. In his own surprise cameo, Embry emerged out of Gwar’s worm monster on stage just after the film was paused during Marc’s hallucination. He wiggled his way out and shouted, “I’ve been stuck in that f****** worm for 20 f****** years!”
In another surprise appearance as a talking head discussing the band’s undying legacy, Embry appeared in last year’s documentary “This is Gwar.” Playing film festivals around the world, “This is Gwar” chronicles the early days of the band in Richmond, Virginia, and the many trials and tribulations they’ve faced over a career that has somehow lasted almost 40 years.