• Rock! Shock! Pop! Presents An Interview With David Gregory





    David Gregory has paid his dues in this business. Though he’s best known these days for spearheading Severin Films, his resume is an impressive one what with his affiliation with Blue Underground, Anchor Bay to name just a few and then there are the features that he’s directed and a few excellent feature length documentaries as well. He’s a pretty busy guy to be sure, but not so busy that he couldn’t find the time to talk to us about how he got into the home video business, some of his greatest accomplishments and how and why Severin Films have come to do what they do so well.

    So without further ado, let’s get to it.

    Rock! Shock! Pop! - So before you started Severin Films, there was the UK wing of Blue Underground and a label you were involved with called Exploited. This was your start in the home video business, was it not? How did all of this come to be?

    David Gregory - Carl Daft and I formed Blue Underground around ’96 and started a VHS label called Exploited to release various horror and exploitation movies in the UK. We released titles like Deranged, Deathdream, Axe, The Child, My Sweet Satan, Hated – GG Allin & The Murder Junkies, Vigilante. It was tough because in addition to the ridiculous amount of money we had to pay the BBFC to get ratings on our releases they also forced us to cut some and even banned two outright: Deadbeat at Dawn and Maniac. On a lot of these releases we included ‘making of’ featurettes and interviews. I was always interested in behind the scenes stories in the trenches of low budget exploitation filmmaking. Eventually this interest led to the production of our first ‘Making of’ feature length doc Texas Chain Saw Massacre – The Shocking Truth which was originally released as a stand-alone feature before it became an extra on TCM special editions later on.

    R!S!P! - I remember the Exploited DVD release of the controversial mondo movie, Killing In America. This was an interesting choice, I thought, for a UK based label as it tackles a subject that’s maybe not specific to but at least centered around the US. What inspired you guys to unearth this fairly obscure title for release in the UK? No censorship issues with that one?

    DG - I’d always had this fascination with mondo movies, more about how they came into existence than watching them actually. Internet was a bit archaic at the time so tracking down rights wasn’t so easy – I wanted to get the Jacopetti/Prosperi films for the UK (naïvely, seeing as they would still have been cut or banned) but we were able to track down rights to KOA which is certainly one of the more serious entries in mondodom. Amazingly the BBFC saw it this way too and passed the film uncut. The classy tabloid The Sunday Sport ran some dumb article about it being a snuff film but otherwise it was a controversy-free release. Carl recently found a bunch of copies of the long out of print DVD in his garage which we made available through the Severin facebook page.




    R!S!P! - Speaking of the BBFC, your business partner, Carl Daft, somewhat famously took them on in court when they denied an uncut release of Last House On The Left. Where you involved in this at all or was this all Carl’s show? Any repercussions from this case? What are your thoughts on the relevance of the BBCF in this day and age?

    DG - I was already working with Bill Lustig in the US when that whole thing went down but we did book a few theatrical screenings to prove that it wasn’t the lethal mind-bending apocalyptic end to decent society that the censors had claimed. I went over for the screenings and for the kangaroo court appeal. It had recently been rejected by the BBFC but we thought we should fight them on this. We lost. But the case did expose how ludicrous some of the BBFC’s rules were on cutting films that had been prosecuted during the ‘video nasty’ era, in that in a lot of those court cases the films weren’t even watched before they were declared obscene. As a result former nasties started being released uncut again in the UK. We were tapped out financially after the case though (which by the way was not heard by a proper court, but by a BBFC appointed court of “experts”, like a retired kids TV presenter, so the odds going in were pretty stacked) so we sold the title to Anchor Bay UK and that started a very productive relationship with them wherein we made a bunch of featurettes and documentaries for their releases. The BBFC have no place in this day and age nor that day and age. A collective of overpaid, self-important, patronizing crooks who base their opinions on what they think is offensive or harmful to society yet their scientific basis for such claims is nil. As you will see in our documentary Ban The Sadist Videos, they are not above conducting bullshit research to give them the answers they want, to maintain their relevance and charge the industry for their services. They are no better than gangsters who force small business owners to pay for ‘protection.’ Government approved charlatans and one of the main reasons I was keen to get the hell out of England to pursue what I wanted to do elsewhere.

    R!S!P! - Some years back, you guys made a name for yourself working on a lot of supplemental material for the likes of Anchor Bay and Blue Underground, to name only a few. Out of all of the work you did for these guys, what do you consider your crowning achievement there and why?

    DG - After The Shocking Truth Bill Lustig asked me to make The Wicker Man Enigma for Anchor Bay US. He was very pleased with how it came out so asked me to become the regular featurette producer at Anchor Bay. He formed Blue Underground US as a production entity for these featurettes, to avoid confusion when I was working on my BU UK stuff at the same time. When he decided to start BU as a label he asked if I’d mind him keeping that name. I was working full time with him by this point so it was fine with me. It was a great period because Bill, and Mo Claridge at Anchor Bay UK, really saw the value in producing quality supplemental features. It took me all over the place interviewing filmmakers, actors, composers etc and because of the kinds of movies these guys were releasing, it was mainly on movies that were of great interest to me. The idea for one of my favorites, The Joe Spinell Story, was Bill’s – he wasn’t keen on doing a basic ‘making of’ because he felt most of that stuff was covered in the commentary – because he wanted to pay tribute to the late character actor and wild man. It’s one of my favorites because I really got to delve into the life of this very talented, very colorful and very troubled individual. I’m still very proud of that piece and it’s been on all releases of Maniac since. Other projects for AB and BU I’m particularly proud of include Ban The Sadist Videos, The Roman Polanski Collection and The Godfathers of Mondo. We still produce a fair amount of extras for other labels, primarily Second Sight in the UK, who are putting out some amazing special editions like The Brood, Return of the Living Dead, From Beyond. I’m currently finishing a feature length piece on Betty Blue and some shorter ones on Heaven’s Gate for them.

    R!S!P! - You also had a hand in bringing The Godfather’s Of Mondo to Blue Underground for inclusion in their Mondo Cane Collection. What was it like tracking down and getting to know the men involved in these films and what went into putting this together? It’s quit an amazing piece.




    DG - Thank you. It hearkens back to that fascination with mondo movies and Jacopetti and Prosperi’s work in particular. I knew from having seen Africa Addio that these guys were not just quick buck hacks. You couldn’t just nonchalantly make docs like theirs in a couple of weeks with a minimum of effort. They had gone to great lengths at often great risk to get the footage they got. You know, part of my particular interest in documenting exploitation filmmaking is the war stories to get movies to the finish line. These guys were the ultimate in this. I’d read articles in Deep Red and the book Killing For Culture, but everyone seemed to lump these guys’ films in with every Faces of Death or Brutes & Savages and it bothered me because I could see that what they did was pioneering in the field of documentary, not to mention extremely ballsy, even if they’ve dated or their political correctness is debatable. When I saw that one of the Italian companies that licensed Bill a bunch of movies owned most of the Jacopetti and Prosperi films I suggested we pick up Mondo Cane and Africa Addio. He decided if we’re doing them we may as well pick up MC2 and Women of the World from the same licensors. Then one day he came in to my office and said, “What about Goodbye Uncle Tom?” “What’s Goodbye Uncle Tom?” I said. And shaking his head, he put his hands up to his face and started whimpering – couldn’t tell if he was laughing or crying, probably a bit of both, and if you’ve seen it you can begin to understand the dilemma. That was a different licensor so we had to track it down from somewhere or other. And then Mondo Candido we couldn’t find the rights at the time so had to leave it out. So…I think it was our Italian coordinator Michele De Angelis who put the call in to Jacopetti and Prosperi and they were more than happy to participate. I understand that they were in agreement with my thesis that their voices should be heard regarding the making of these films. And they both gave two of the most fascinating interviews I ever got. Sharp in their recollections, not shying away from their shortcomings, humble about their achievements, and just full of unique filmmaking anecdotes. We interviewed a handful of their colleagues too but it was these guys and their fearless approach to their craft that made the doc. There was more material from Prosperi on his summing up of what became of Africa after they made Africa Addio which I think articulated their viewpoint on the subject which I wish we’d left in but Bill felt that it was becoming laborious by then and from an audience perspective he was probably right. On the other hand Prosperi has such a passion for the continent and its culture and knowledge of its politics that that articulation may have been able to fuel the debate further about their intentions – a debate that often rages on to this day amongst fans and detractors. Anyway, Godfathers is a project I’m very happy to have been able to make and frankly would not have been made were Lustig not such a pioneer in the field of exploitation restoration and disc distribution – he didn’t really like these movies but he saw what I was spouting on about and went for it. Jacopetti and Prosperi were both very pleased with the set and the doc which was the icing on the cake.

    R!S!P! - Also on your resume are some impressive documentary features like The Spaghetti West and Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth. What inspired you to get into the documentary business, was it just a natural extension of working on DVD supplements?

    DG - As I mentioned earlier I always wanted more stories behind the making of these films which were kind of rare in documentary form at that time -- hard to imagine now in the post-DVD era where we have more first hand accounts on the making of exploitation films than we do on most major movies. Before this there was the Incredibly Strange Film Show on the UK’s Channel 4 which was a very inspirational series because it was retrospective and not filmmakers talking about films they were making at the time. Then there were docs like Document of the Dead and Dario Argento’s World of Horror but not much else. These filmmakers were taking their work seriously even though they weren’t in the world of festivals and awards and box office smashes, which always made them infinitely more interesting to me. I mean hearing Romero & Savini talking about blood squibs in Monroeville mall is clearly more interesting than Lucas and co blowing up a miniature death star (Making of Star Wars being one of the widely distributed ‘making ofs’ back in the day). Once I started talking to people like Alan Ormsby about shooting Deranged or all the folks from Texas Chain Saw it was clear that everyone has something to say if the experience was a meaningful one to them, which in the case of low budget filmmaking it often is. Another bonus is that on a DVD there are no length requirements so the featurette length is dictated by how interesting the subject is. And it was a virtually untapped source of material 12 or so years ago (of course plenty of magazines and fanzines like the aforementioned Deep Red and Fangoria had laid the groundwork in print form). And working with people who were really into this side of it allowed us to really get into it. After Anchor Bay and BU (this is going to sound like blasphemy but I don’t really count Criterion because while they set the benchmark in a lot of ways in the disc revolution, I felt their extras, the ones they produced themselves, were a little dry.), other companies like Dark Sky started to get into it too and while today there is less and less interest in allocating budgets for these things there are still companies like Shout Factory, Second Sight, Grindhouse, BU who are going for the full package on retro films. Poorly produced special features piss me off even more than bare bones discs, because there is a tendency for labels to want to list numerous features on the box to trick consumers into thinking they’re getting more value than they actually are.

    R!S!P! - So why the decision to start Severin in 2006 or so? What do you think Severin brings to the table that other labels do not?

    DG - The market was changing and Bill was slowing down his acquisitions so it looked like there would be less and less work for me to do there. John Cregan was also working at BU at the time so him, me and Carl talked about picking up a few titles for the US including Gwendoline and Felicity – titles that we’d brought up to Bill but that he wasn’t interested in. We couldn’t use the BU name obviously so we formed Severin. Both titles did very well and it went on from there. And we have continued to include special features as much as possible, sometimes really going to town like on Santa Sangre, Hardware and Psychomania, but I think we’ve included at least one interview with someone involved in the actual production of the movie on every release except Crucible of Terror and The Sinful Dwarf – for which we could not find a soul, despite a lot of trying. Virtually everyone on Sinful Dwarf used a pseudonym except the late Torben Bille.

    R!S!P! - You’ve worked on a lot of Jess Franco releases over the years. He, more than pretty much any other director, really seems to be a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of filmmaker. Why focus so much on his work and why do you think his films polarize people the way that they do?




    DG - I was no expert on Franco when I first went to Malaga to interview him for Eugenie The Story of her journey Into Perversion and Justine, having only seen a handful of his movies. But again once I got to hear the man speak I was intrigued. He had such vivid, informed and witty memories of each film, their inspiration, the actors and their idiosyncrasies, the locations and the food he ate etc. which is impressive when you consider how many films he’s made. I started to familiarize myself a lot more with his work and it opened a door to a unique world. That world is pretty personal and certainly contains a lot of very quickly made films which simply do not connect with a lot of people… the whole ‘I could do that and do it better’ mentality which is sometimes superficially levied at some artists. But, like it or not, you didn’t, he did. And did it very prolifically and very much in tune with his own interests and obsessions. Though I would still refrain from calling myself an expert on his work, there’s always a lot more to discover.

    R!S!P! - You’ve obviously got to have a lot of great stories about Jess – what’s your best Franco story?

    DG - One I tell a lot is the day in Paris where we shot him and Polanski back to back. We’d taken him out to dinner the night before to what we thought was a great restaurant but he was unimpressed and quite vocal about it. He arranged to meet us in a back street after the interview not far too from the Eiffel Tower. He took us into a smoke filled room packed to the brim with local old folk. He insisted this was an ‘honest bistro’ with ‘good meat.’ There was no menu just a small chalk board that was handed around with three items listed thereon: chicken, rabbit and pigeon. I opted for the chicken, John had the rabbit and Carl had the pigeon. Jess I think had rabbit too. It was all pretty gristley and swimming in fat and bits of skin probably the occasional patch of fur or feathers too. Jess kept toasting and saying, “Good! Good meat! Honest bistro.” Stuff like that. So one of the most disgusting meals I ever had was one that I remember very fondly.

    R!S!P! - Severin was known primarily as a Euro-cult label, having focused on Franco but also on filmmakers like Borowczyk, Fulci, D’Amato and Casetellari among quite a few others. You’d shift gears later but why the initial focus on European films specifically?

    DG - We would pick up titles we liked and that we thought might have a market. There’s only a couple of exceptions where we picked up something that none of us were really interested in because they were offered to us along with other films, and they usually tanked, otherwise it had to have piqued interest in us. I mean look at something like Beast in Space. No one would touch that film but when I heard about it I was intrigued. What producer in their right mind thought ‘let’s do a mash up of a cheap Star Wars rip-off and Borowczyk’s The Beast but with a bit of hard core thrown in’? Now that’s a movie that needs to be available for all to experience should they wish.

    R!S!P! - From there, Severin diversified a bit and offered up films from the likes of Richard Stanley and Alejendro Jodorowsky, both men notorious not only for being boundary pushing filmmakers but also interesting personalities. How did Severin come to be involved in these releases?




    DG - Hardware was brought to us by Norm Hill of the defunct label Subversive. He’d worked hard to get it out of the clutches of Disney but by the time the paperwork cleared up he no longer had a label. We’re very glad he did because not only did it do well, it was a film Carl and I attended the premiere of at a London horror festival in our youth so it was in our roots, but also it introduced us to the world of Richard Stanley with whom we went on to do Theatre Bizarre and I’m currently finishing up production on a feature doc about his strange and ill-fated attempt to make The Island of Dr. Moreau. With Santa Sangre it was a title we’d been pursuing for years but untangling the rights was complicated. I think it’s one of the best films ever made so we never gave up and then one day it became available which was a bit of a dream come true.

    R!S!P! - Birdemic. Why?

    DG - There was this kid called Evan Husney who was working at Troma when we met him. He got my movie Plague Town to play at Tromadance, during the Sundance festival, and there I met a funny fella called Bobby Hacker. Bobby became obsessed with this van which kept traversing the main street in Park City with screeching bird noises emanating from it, blood spattered on the side and a handwritten sign incorrectly spelled ‘Bidemic’. Turns out it was Birdemic director James Nguyen and he was there to show his movie. Bobby attended the screening at some bar (he and maybe three others) and when we met up afterwards he could not stop talking about this insane film. Based on Bobby’s apparently life changing experience Evan got a copy and immediately saw the commercial possibilities. Evan showed it to me, John and Carl and we were thoroughly entertained. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen, jaw-dropping, astounding, and funny as hell. Soon after Evan came to work for us, we secured the rights to Birdemic and sure enough once it had its world premiere at Cinefamily in LA the result was a joyous, raucous and frankly amazing movie going experience. We fully supported it and put a lot behind the marketing and it became this minor midnight movie sensation. And it was Evan who really ran with it, supported by us. It was a huge amount of fun and brought us to the attention of a lot of people for whom Severin would never have been on their radar. We were on the front of the New York Times, ABC News, all that stuff. It brought Evan to the attention of Drafthouse Films and now he’s a head honcho over there.





    R!S!P! - In addition to the home video business and documentary work you’ve also directed a feature called Plague Town. What was it like making the leap into more traditional feature film work, and where did the ideas for Plague Town stem from?

    DG - I always wanted to make narrative films. It was often discussed when I was working with Lustig but nothing panned out. It was from working with MPI/Dark Sky on a few of their releases like Magic, Trilogy of Terror and Baraka that I made the acquaintance of Greg Newman over there. They wanted to get back into original productions having dabbled with Henry several years earlier and the not so successful Henry 2. Greg liked the script, which I co-wrote with Severin partner John Cregan. It was based on a traumatic babysitting experience I had back in England. We transformed one hyperactive frightening kid into a village of deformed homicidal kids. It wasn’t a difficult leap in terms of the work. It was fortuitous that I was a partner in Severin so I could take off a few weeks to make the film but not so fortuitous for ongoing filmmaking projects in that I don’t make the time to develop and write the next project because getting the likes of House on Straw Hill or Hot Nights Of Linda to release takes a lot of work and needs to happen yesterday.

    R!S!P! - As a filmmaker you also contributed to an anthology horror pictures called Theater Bizarre. For this project were you more or less given creative freedom to come up with your own story or was it more of a collaborative effort between you and the other directors?

    DG - Theatre Bizarre was an idea I had while festivaling Plague Town. I met several indie horror filmmakers who were frustrated by the often unfruitful development process of their movies. I thought it was time to do an anthology and get a bunch of such filmmakers together, give all the same budget and no creative restrictions (other than that the budget was very low and certain technical/length specs) and put them all together in a Dead of Night/Amicus type portmanteau film. I stuck myself in the mix because I wanted to make another movie! And I came up with a story that was much more in the style of films I would like to make than Plague Town was, even though overall I’m still pretty happy with PT. As far as the other directors, and in fact the individual segment producers and their casts and crews, it was a terrific collaboration, very creatively satisfying and I think came out very well for a micro-budgeted film. Hopefully we can do another, though the landscape has been rather bombarded by anthologies in the last couple of years.

    R!S!P! - Shifting gears once again, Severin decided to release a few larger scale British war movies with Zulu Dawn, Eagles Over London and The Wild Geese. Obviously with these releases and films like Screwballs, Dogora and BMX Bandits the label became more than just a Euro-cult and exploitation releasing company. Why the choice to go with more mainstream fare like this? Was it to broaden your customer base in what is obviously a shrinking market for physical media?

    DG - Again it comes down to films we like or at least one of us likes. Screwballs had been a landmark movie for all three of us in our teens on VHS so we were delighted to get that. Wild Geese was a TV/early video staple so there was some nostalgia there too, and Zulu Dawn and Ashanti came as part of that package… and that deal was also sweetened by the fact that the masters were already done so our workload on them was minimal. Dogora, not sure why we did that though I’m a Leconte fan and we’d already done Hairdresser’s Husband and Perfume of Yvonne. And certainly once Inglorious Bastards took us into the mainstream stores I think we could afford to allow other types of movies into the Severin fold. It was never a conscious moving away from our roots type decision, it just allowed us to expand our palette. The returns were certainly diminishing in the euro-cult world so we had to evolve in some way or fizzle out. However if you consider that our latest releases are Hot Nights of Linda and House on Straw Hill, it’s not as if we’ve abandoned what Severin’s about.

    R!S!P! - Let’s talk about Intervision for a bit. This was obviously, to anyone who was paying attention, a Severin ‘sub-label’ marketed with a sense of humor behind it. There was some controversy over the use of fictional studio honcho Larry Gold when those titles first launched. In fact, there was even a picture of him on the website, he kind of looked like my dad. Any thoughts on this? The controversy, not the fact that he looked like my dad specifically. Though chime in on that too if you like.




    DG - Haha. Absolutely hilarious that a couple of folks got upset when we killed off our imaginary founder. That came about because we were trying to create this image of a throwback label for more video-centric titles as well as movies we didn’t have great elements for or which just didn’t fit Severin for one reason or another. Made perfect sense to create Severin’s alter ego, the dirty secret, and put out these fine films on such a label. By the way Larry Gold was very loosely based on a legendary figure in the UK VHS era and featured in Ban The Sadist Videos, so maybe that’s why folks got upset. But he’s alive and well as far as I’m aware.

    R!S!P! - As a die-hard fan of Things, thank you for giving it a DVD release. I had the self-released disc before the Intervision disc to go along with my Things video poster (signed by Barry J. Gillis, actor) as well as my Things comic. But this was another quality addition to my Things collection. Some people hate me for making them watch this movie. This is not a question, but feel free to comment or share your thoughts on this release, because dammit, more people need to own this movie.

    DG - Gotta give credit again to Evan. He brought Things and Sledgehammer to us. Burning Moon as well I think so he had a lot to do with the formative days of Intervision.

    R!S!P! - Getting back to reality here, is Intervision done or is there more SOV madness and Aussie sex documentaries in the works?

    DG - Yes definitely more Intervision coming soon. Some trailer comps, more shot on video madness. More gore and obscure sleaze to come. I like Intervision because we don’t have to kill ourselves getting the bloody discs done. We’re also producing a top secret Intervision horror feature.

    R!S!P! - You also unleashed upon the world a Blu-ray special edition of Jim Van Bebber’s notorious film, The Manson Family. Given that Blue Underground played a role in getting the movie finished and that MPI/Dark Sky had released it on DVD, how did this wind up with you guys? Any stories about working with the infamous Mr. Van Bebber? Did he leave you any awesome answering machine messages?

    DG - The Blue Underground that finished the film was BU UK so Carl and I are listed as co-producers on the movie. Once MPI’s rights expired it made sense to do the Blu ourselves. I still think the movie is strong and will continue to be so for years to come. It’s a true independent, underground film, the like of which does not come around these days. I saw it theatrically recently at one of the screenings Dave Szulkin booked in the run up to the disc release and it still packs a solid punch. I am glad we brought it to the finish line but it wasn’t easy. It cost several times what we expected and took about a few years longer. Let’s just say that the messages to Synapse that were leaked online were sweet lullabies compared to what we got.

    R!S!P! - So just earlier this week you mentioned that you had sent off for replication two releases that I’d wager are the most anticipated titles that Severin has released in some time, those being an uncut special edition Blu-ray release of House On Straw Hill and Franco’s The Hot Nights Of Linda. Let’s start with Straw Hill. This release was delayed a few times. What happened? What caused the delays and what can we expect out of this release?




    DG - Straw Hill was a nightmare that would not end. Basically the negative was unusable due to having been kept in the director’s barn for 30 years so every frame had inconsistent colour damage. Then we got a print which was cut by 7 minutes and was pretty scratched and faded. Then also an uncut print that was in worse condition than the others. We had to piece together a master from all three. We were going to cancel the thing several times and kept shelving it to focus on titles we could get to release stage. But being stubborn we did not want to give up on this film and let it fall further into obscurity and deteriorate even more before being properly transferred in HD. The result is far from perfect but had we left it much longer it would only have been worse. It’s been one of the most costly and time consuming releases we’ve ever done but because it’s still a bit rough we want to make sure our loyal punters do not feel ripped off so we’re including our two part Ban The Sadist Videos documentary for the first time outside the UK as a bonus disc. And for those who order direct from the Severin site you also get a free VHS facsimile of the ‘Video Nasty’ under the Expose title.

    R!S!P! - You mentioned the Ban The Sadist Videos documentary, which has never been released in the US before. Give us the scoop on what this one is all about and why it’s being included with House.




    DG - Ban The Sadist Videos is definitely one of the best documentaries we’ve done and it’s probably got something to do with the fact that it’s a subject we’re passionate about. Carl and I grew up during the ‘Video Nasty’ era in England, that’s how we got our education in horror beyond what the BBC would show. We would watch anything horror that we could get on VHS, anything! Then all of a sudden our favorite VHS tapes were showing up on the news and politicians and guardians of public decency were calling for them to be banned. I remember going into my video shop one day and Zombie Flesh Eaters, one of my most frequently rented tapes, was no longer available, “It’s been banned.” And it stuck! Even at the age of eleven or twelve I was suspicious that these busy bodies were talking complete shit about these films and their effects on society. But they won. And thereafter Britain became the most censored nation in the western world for movies. We had to get our movies illegally. And the films we collected carried heavy fines if you were caught lending them to anyone. Horror collectors were actually being arrested and charged for trading tapes. It was insane. And it got worse. Every time a really horrible crime happened like the kids in Liverpool killing 2 year old James Bulger, rather than looking into what would make kids do that, the answer was always, “well obviously violent videos are the culprit. Let’s censor more!” And the documentary goes into all the sad and sorry details. We interviewed video store owners, distributors, censors, politicians, researchers, academics, collectors… we even have a section with some of the filmmakers: Scavolini, Argento, Wes Craven, Sergio Garrone, Deodato etc. It shows how a moral panic can be stirred up in England and the tabloid media and ignorant politicians can get away with anything. We’re putting this on Straw Hill because Straw Hill was the only British film banned as a nasty -- under it’s alternate title Expose (hence doing a limited VHS giveaway on our site under that title).

    R!S!P! - And… Hot Nights Of Linda. Same deal here, there were a few delays with this one but you guys soldiered on and are offering up your first high definition Franco title, thankfully one that features the lovely Lina Romay in her prime and often in her birthday suit, banana in hand. Why bring this one out on Blu-ray rather than take the easy way out, which would have been to re-release one of your Franco catalogue titles on Blu?

    DG - Linda wasn’t quite that bad but we were still at the mercy of an imperfect element and also several versions of the film in existence. So the version we had the film element on was the release version, it’s the uncut soft version, the harder version is quite a different film, completely different scenes, a whole subplot excised etc. It’s actually shorter than the release version. Once again we’re including a bonus disc with the hard version sourced from a collector’s VHS tape – the only element we could find of it. We shot the interviews with Jess and Lina back in I think 2009 for this release and for obvious reasons I’m very glad we did. We had always planned to do it but the licensor kept thinking he might be able to find more film elements which alas he was unable to do. I still think it’s going to be a terrific release because aside from the Franco approved release version in HD, you get this alternate banana version on a bonus DVD (the first 2500 anyway) as well as several interviews with Franco, Romay and Nightmare USA scribe Stephen Thrower too.




    R!S!P! - What else is in the works for Severin now that these two titles, which were obviously pretty massive undertakings, are done? You recently announced Dead Kids for Blu-ray release, I’m assuming this is Strange Behavior under a different title. What else is in the works?

    DG - Dead Kids is the original title of Strange Behavior, yes. New HD transfer from the negative which looks great. We shot a new interview with Craig Reardon for it too, his first head FX gig before going on to Funhouse, Poltergeist, Goonies etc etc. He’s unearthed some great hitherto unpublished stills from his archives. Also recorded a commentary with director Michael Laughlin. Another Ozploitation flick Thirst will be released concurrently. We’ll have the Ozploitation Trailer Explosion coming out at the same time on Intervision. Another reason we’re trying to raise awareness on nasties on House on Straw Hill is that we’ll be releasing Video Nasties The Ultimate Guide, a multi disc set put together by Nucleus films in the UK. Then when the remake of Patrick, which by all accounts so far is awesome, hits screens, we’ll release the original on Blu.

    R!S!P! - That’s great news! Two more questions – what, out of all the releases that you’ve been involved with over your career, is your favorite and why? And if you could get your hands on one movie to release as a Severin special edition, what would it be and why? I guess maybe that’s four questions now that I read it back.




    DG - Santa Sangre would have to be my favorite. Probably my favorite film we’ve released and the fact that I got to do a feature length doc on it. This doc really had some interesting people spearheaded of course by the man himself. Always amazing to listen to. Very much looking forward to Jodorowsky’s Dune when it comes out next year. I’d love to do proper special editions of The Tenant and Bitter Moon, because they’re brilliant movies and deserve the red carpet treatment and not just basic bare bones editions. But it’s unlikely to ever happen on Severin unfortunately due to their being studio pictures. And Drop Dead Fred.

    R!S!P! - Great choices! Anything else you want to offer up to our readers?

    DG - Please join Severin on facebook. That’s where all the updates and double secret special announcements happen.

    Awesome! Thanks so much, David, for taking time out of your schedule to do this and for going amazingly in-depth into your work, this has been a lot of fun to do and keep up the great work.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. Scott's Avatar
      Scott -
      Glad he liked doing the Joe Spinell story, that's one of my favorite dvd extras/docs. I watch it more than MANIAC.
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      Curious that they are putting out Nucleus Film's Video Nasties documentary/trailer set as it covers the same ground as their own Video Nasties doc on the House on Straw Hill release, I'm sure. I imported that set when it came out but would like to see the one Gregory made. I'll only re-buy the Nucleus one if they put it on blu-ray.
    1. Lalala76's Avatar
      Lalala76 -
      Great interview, I learnt something there.

      Ian, do you fancy getting on a plane and doing an Interview with Hammer films, you might just get some answers from them. Either that or it would be the shortest interview you have ever done.
    1. Paul L's Avatar
      Paul L -
      I vividly remember the Exploited VHS line. In fact, I've still got some of Exploited's tapes in my collection.
    1. VinceP's Avatar
      VinceP -
      After watching the Ban the Sadist Videos doc, I see that Marc Morris and Jake West were involved. I guess this was a warm up for the Video Nasties doc they did?