The History Of Severin Part 1 – The First 5 Years, Plus Three-Day Celebratory 50%-Off Sale

13
Jun

As part of the extensive program of gala festivities planned to commemorate Severin’s 5th Anniversary, we at Severin have decided stage a no-holds-barred, two-day, knock-out, blow-out Webstore sale beginning on Wednesday, June 15th and ending on midnight, Friday June 17th. 

That means ALL titles released prior to 2011 will be available for perusal, then purchase, at the special Anniversary rate of 50% off. And titles from this year at 20% off. This is your chance to finally plug those holes in your Severin library…and no, we’re not just talking about Door Into Silence. This is your chance to take a look back at the magical mystery tour that we have taken together over this past half-decade.

Unbelievably, it’s been five years since Messrs. Cregan, Daft and Gregory incorporated and fired off the initial Severin salvo; a smoldering Gwendoline and Felicity pairing that left DVD players around the globe panting for more. This inaugural intertwining (still two of Severin’s most popular titles) lasciviously paved the way for Severin’s journey toward taking the title as the “Criterion of Smut™.”

The halcyon era of Severin marched out a soft parade of boundary-pushing, maritally-damaging, unparalleled, uncut sleaze; The Sinful Dwarf, Malabimba – The Malicious Whore, Satan’s Baby Doll, Vanessa, Laure, Papaya – Love Goddess Of The Cannibals, The Sister Of Ursula (which is still inspiring new forms of legal action), and the species-bending-with-a-shocking-ending The Beast In Space.

If those titles weren’t enough to earn Severin a top spot in digital infamy, we then forged a holiest-of-unholy alliance with the pneumatic Laura Gemser, peddling not one but two Black Emanuelle’s boxes, which still contain some of the most drool-worthy Eurotica ever shrink-wrapped.

Severin then turned its trembling gaze upon the neglected output of other European icons. Walarian Borowczyk’s Immoral Women, Lucio Fulci’s The Eroticist, Perversion Story, The Psychic, and (Uncle) Jess Franco’s Macumba Sexual, Mansion Of The Living Dead, Sexual Story Of O, and Inconfessable Orgies Of Emmanuelle all would soon set our distributor’s palms a-sweating.

Ah, yes. Distribution. Severin was, first and foremost, intended to be an uncut outlet for uncompromising celluloid of all shapes and sizes (I’m looking at you, Torben). But as always, the prudish views of the well-placed few thrusted Severin into the murky miasma of censorship and cinematic restriction, the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the caveman days of Blue Underground back in merry-old-confrontational-imagery-phobic England.

Retail outlets’ attitudes suddenly tightened up (just exactly where we’re too gentlemanly to tell), sending back improperly covered copies of Immoral Women by the tainted boxful. Our summarily terrified distributor would soon crumble into censorial dust, deleting the darkest corners of our back catalogue (including Once Upon A Girl, which we’re proud to announce is available once again via our webstore).

So it was time for Severin to expand its palette. On command, the brand was broadened to all makes of genre fare; slashers (Bloody Moon), bikers (Stone), gialli (In The Folds Of The Flesh), war epics (Eagles Over London), gutmunchers (Cannibal Terror), and arthouse (The Hairdresser’s Husband) soon would grace the Severin library.

This meticulous collision of sensibilities was perhaps best encapsulated in March and April of 2009, when we followed up the exploit-tastic The Sinful Dwarf with the Ebert-approved The Hairdresser’s Husband. Both were titles other companies had deemed “untouchable.” But Severin sailed right into the retail headwind, giving both films the full, deluxe, overstuffed Severin treatment they so richly deserved.

With quixotic ventures such as these, Severin gained renown for its top-shelf, “heroic” presentation, with one critic noting that “Severin is well on its way to becoming the greatest indie label of all time.” All the while, Severin’s insatiable tastes have broadened, adding Brit-Crime (Shopping), Classic Horror (Nightmare Castle, Psychomania), 80s Teen Sex Comedy (Screwballs, Loose Screws), and Family Fare (BMX Bandits). These titles firmly plunged Severin into the crystal clear world of high definition, as our transfers took on a new luminance to go along with our usual smorgasbord of Special Features.

But it was with three very different releases that Severin redefined the term “Special Edition.”

Despite exploding unforgettably onto screens (and into VCRs) upon its original 1990 release, Richard Stanley’s Sci-Fi-Horror classic Hardware had amazingly remained unreleased on DVD. With the invaluable aid of Subversive Cinema’s Norm Hill, Severin pried the rights from the rigor-mortised fingers of its original distributor.

A Stanley-approved, restored, and newly timed transfer left Hardware looking better than fans could have ever dreamed. An awe-inspiring amount of extras were crammed into the release, highlighted by the new feature-length documentary No Flesh Shall Be Spared. Proto-Punk Legends Lemmy and Iggy Pop lent their talents to Severin’s promotional blitz, reprising their roles in all-new Sev-produced spots.

Severin licensed Enzo G. Castellari’s The Inglorious Bastards on the if-come. The hope was that the long-swirling rumors — that modern-day maestro Quentin Tarantino wanted to remake Enzo Castellari’s macaroni combat epic — might someday come to fruition.

This set the stage for one of the banner days in the history of Severin…the day we called Tarantino’s office gauging his willingness to give an interview on the original I.B. Then came the two glorious answers: A) yes, Tarantino would give the interview, and, oh that B) he was putting the final touches on his (soon-to-be-Oscar-Nominated) script for what would become Inglourious Basterds.

With the aid of continental colleagues Federico Caddeo and Marco Ristori, Severin produced an all-new slew of special features and commentary track featuring the great Castellari himself. Then came a dizzying cavalcade of Bastard events in and around Los Angeles; Castellari tribute nights at Cinefamily and The New Beverly, a Castellari 70th birthday bash at the Italian Cultural Institute, and best of all, a career-spanning one-on-one chat between Castellari and Tarantino, filmed at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.

A slate of screenings across these United States wrapped up the explosive Bastards action, with a new print that Severin subsequently gave to Tarantino as a “thank-you.” A gift well-deserved, as Tarantino’s Basterds helped make Castellari’s Bastards a Bo-Svenson-sized hit!

Severin, like many others, had been circling around Alejandro Jodorowsky’s phantasmagoric serial killer portrait Santa Sangre since the company’s inception. The decoding of the chain of title proved a nightmare, and by the time the knots had all been unraveled, Severin was the only licensee with a rabid interest. With the prize in hand, Severin set about to create its ultimate Special Edition, a disc that would push the capabilities of the Blu-Ray format to the brink of high-definition exhaustion. A pristine new transfer rendered Jodorowsky’s blood-saturated vision with a rich vibrancy untouched by any previous release.

Then, Severin rounded up seemingly every person ever connected to Santa Sangre to fashion one of the most comprehensive single-movie docs ever produced: Forget Everything You Have Ever Seen – The World Of Santa Sangre. Six months after its release, Sangre stands tall as Severin’s most critically acclaimed disc in its lofty history…and along with Hardware, Inglorious Bastards, and Gwendoline, one of its biggest blockbusters.

The Sevs also have a long history of producing some of the most ambitious documentaries in the realm of DVD. We’ve been involved with countless releases since the dawn of the format, producing hundreds of featurettes for a wide array of companies such as Anchor Bay, Blue Underground, Warner Brothers, MPI/Dark Sky, and MGM. These past couple of years saw Severin contribute to releases from Criterion (Repulsion, Wise Blood), Second Sight (Aria, Dougal & The Blue Cat, Edward II), Image Entertainment (Caligula), Arrow (Bitter Moon), Umbrella (The Funhouse) and more.

Only one territory remained unassaulted – feature film. If you look deeply into the closing credits of Dark Sky’s Plague Town, the more eagle-eyed of you will spot it was produced in association with Severin, having been directed by David, co-written and co-edited by David and John, and associate produced by Carl. John’s teen comedy Devolved dons a far more Severin-friendly credit at the head of the film. And as of this writing, Severin is wrapping a bow on The Theatre Bizarre, a horror anthology Fangoria has proclaimed to have been co-directed by “horror’s most adventurous minds.” Those minds would be; Richard Stanley, Tom Savini, Karim Hussain, Buddy Giovinazzo, David Gregory, Douglas Buck, and Jeremy Kasten.

The latter stages of 2009 saw Evan Husney ride the winged juggernaut that is Birdemic: Shock And Terror into the deepest realms of Severin. When David, John and Carl sat down and proceeded to have their sensibilities decimated and then reprogrammed by James Nguyen’s post-apocalyptic triptych, the resulting aftermath featured an immediate invitation to join our ranks.

Throughout 2010, Severin concentrated all available resources into the promotion and support of Birdemic. The most riotous premiere this side of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring hit the Cinefamily in full force gale, lovingly supervised by alt-comedy superstars Tim & Eric. As dazed moviegoers staggered out, futilely attempting to resume their lives, it was clear that the film was destined to take on a life of its own.

A genre-destroying armada of beer-drenched screenings soon stretched across the globe; indeed, Birdemic has molted the largest spate of theatrical showings in the history of the company. The media even picked up on it, gracing Birdemic with a primo mention on the front cover of The New York Times, in addition to boffo coverage from ABC News With Diane Sawyer, BBC World News, NBC, CBS Sunday Morning, Attack of the Show!, USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The London Guardian and countless other outlets. A DVD/Blu-Ray release swooped onto retailer’s shelves in February, 2011.

2011 has played host to a murderer’s row of cinematic delights; Santa Sangre, Shopping, Birdemic, BMX Bandits, Devolved and The Stunt Man (with a new transfer and 6 new hours of bonus features) have already hit, with Bloody Birthday, The Baby, Nightmares, House Of Seven Corpses, and Horror Express standing on deck…with a slew of other surprises to follow. Evan has also expanded his Severinian duties to the oversight of an edgy new roster of releases for the previously-thought-dead Intervision Picture Corporation.

All in all there’s still plenty for you, the fantastic fans and friends of Severin to look forward to as Severin sets course for a glorious future.

Oh, and if you’re not following us on Facebook and Twitter…please start today!

The Changeling is in the shipping process. All orders should be out by August 13th Dismiss