Since their founding in 2006, Severin Films has become the foremost studio dedicated to rescuing, restoring and releasing the most controversial and provocative features from around the world. With offices in Los Angeles and London, the company’s international successes in DVD, Blu-Ray and niche theatrical of films from Oscar nominees and cult icons alike has garnered applause in The Hollywood Reporter, The New York Times and The Onion AV Club, and led BlogCritics.org to proclaim, “Severin Films are well on their way to becoming the greatest indie label of all time.”
Severin Films was founded by Carl Daft, David Gregory and John Cregan. Daft and Gregory originally met in middle school in their native Nottingham, England and by their early twenties had launched Blue Underground UK and its subsidiary VHS/DVD label Exploited. Exploited’s initial releases – including Todd Phillips’ Hated, Leonard Schrader’s The Killing Of America and Bob Clark’s Deathdream – immediately drew the ravenous support of U.K. genre fans still reeling from the ‘video nasties’ era as well as the ferocious ire of The British Board Of Film Classification. In 2001, Exploited’s attempt to release an uncut edition of Wes Craven’s 1972 classic Last House On The Left ignited widespread controversy when the BBFC demanded the film be heavily censored. Daft, by now a qualified lawyer, immediately filed an appeal. Following a yearlong series of unprecedented and increasingly inconsistent ‘official’ statements, the 30+year-old film was declared ‘unsuitable for viewing by adults in an uncut form.’ “Contrary to what we might expect under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights,” Daft told The Independent, “we are a very long way from having the right to free expression in this country guaranteed.” Over a decade later, the case remains a global flashpoint for independent cinema’s anti-censorship movement.
By 2000, the pair began producing special features for international DVDs that would soon include The Deer Hunter, Withnail & I, Badlands, Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer, Becket, Don’t Look Now, Baraka, Knife In The Water, Tommy, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! Kill! and The Night Porter. They eventually lent the company name to the Los Angeles based Blue Underground, for whom Gregory was a producer on such acclaimed Special Edition discs as Maniac, The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Mondo Cane Collection, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage, The Final Countdown and The Alan Clark Collection, as well as producing and directing the IFC original documentary The Spaghetti West. In May 2006, Gregory, Daft and Blue Underground U.S. editor John Cregan joined forces to form Severin Films, the name ‘Severin’ coming from the protagonist of Sacher-Masoch’s novel Venus In Furs and further immortalized by The Velvet Underground. In 2009, the company hired former Troma executive Evan Husney – who had recently produced acclaimed Special Edition discs of The Last Horror Film and Combat Shock – as Production Manager. Husney left the company in 2011 to become Creative Director of Drafthouse Films. Marketing and creative consultation for Severin has been provided since the company’s inception by Gary Hertz of Gorilla Suit Productions.
Today, Severin’s successes include the restored edition of Richard Stanley’s landmark shocker Hardware; the so-bad-it’s-amazing international sensation Birdemic – Shock & Terror; Roman Polanski’s rarely-seen What?; the unrated Director’s Cut of Gwendoline starring Tawny Kitaen; recent lifetime Goya Award winner Jess Franco’s Macumba Sexual and Bloody Moon; Walerian Borowczyk’s Immoral Women; the ‘Ozploitation’ classics Felicity and Stone; the two-volume limited-edition collections Black Emanuelle’s Box; Oscar® nominee Patrice Leconte’s international hits The Hairdresser’s Husband and The Perfume Of Yvonne; the ‘80s T&A drive-in sensation Screwballs; and Enzo Castellari’s original ‘macaroni combat’ classic Inglorious Bastards, the inspiration for Quentin Tarantino’s acclaimed smash. The company has also restored and released ‘lost’ films by such controversial filmmakers as Lucio Fulci (The Psychic and Perversion Story), Joe D’Amato (Papaya: Love Goddess Of The Cannibals and Emanuelle And The White Slave Trade), Mario Caiano (Nightmare Castle), Andrea Bianchi (Malabimba: The Malicious Whore) and Rino di Silvestro (Hanna D: The Girl From Vondel Park).
In addition to founding Severin Films, Daft, Gregory and Cregan continue to produce distinctive independent features. In 2000, David Gregory produced and directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Shocking Truth, the definitive documentary on the original film. Daft and Gregory signed on as co-producers (with Cregan as Sound Editor) of Jim Van Bebber’s The Manson Family, the award-winning 2003 shocker that Roger Ebert hailed as “remarkable…an act of transgression so extreme and uncompromised, that it exists in a category of one film — this film.” In 2008, David Gregory co-wrote with Cregan and directed Dark Sky Films’ Plague Town, the atmospheric horror chiller that Fangoria raved, “evokes the genuine feeling of a nightmare captured on celluloid.” And in 2009, John Cregan wrote and directed Devolved, a cutting edge satire starring Lindsey Shaw and Chris Kattan. In 2011 Severin kick started the recent anthology horror boom with The Theatre Bizarre directed by Douglas Buck, Buddy Giovinazzo, Gregory, Karim Hussain, Jeremy Kasten, Tom Savini and Richard Stanley and in 2014 hit the festival circuit to widespread acclaim with the feature documentary Lost Soul – The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau. The company has a number of projects in development and production.