Five years may not seem like a long time but in the volatile home entertainment industry, it's enough to qualify you as a survivor, especially if you're an upstart independent. Severin Films, one of the leading distributors of cult cinema on DVD and Blu-ray, celebrates its fifth anniversary this week and heartfelt congratulations are in order.
Severin was founded in 2006 by John Cregan, Carl Daft, and David Gregory. For their first releases, they reached back to the 80s glory days of Skinemax with an unrated director's cut of Gwendoline starring Tawny Kitaen (you may or may not be familiar with the movie under its longer title, The Perils Of Gwendoline In The Land Of The Yik Yak) and Felicity, fondly remembered by pubescent boys of the '80s everywhere.
For the next couple of years, Severin seemed content to develop a reputation as a quality purveyor of vintage smut. Their releases included films by Polish eroticist Walerian Borowczyk (Immoral Women and Art Of Love), several entries in the legendary Emmanuelle series, and the utterly bizarre sleazefest The Sinful Dwarf, a movie that absolutely must be seen to be believed. All of the discs were quite good but unlikely to reach an audience outside of the hardcore psychotronic crowd.
So Severin decided to diversify, going after the rights to unjustly ignored movies that had inexplicably not yet been released on DVD. One of the things that makes Severin such a unique company is their extremely catholic taste in films. They don't just love horror movies or exploitation movies. They love movies, period. Once they gave themselves permission to explore their diverse range of interests, the company flourished. They reintroduced audiences to great arthouse fare like Patrice Leconte's The Hairdresser's Husband, horror flicks like Bloody Moon, and the Australian biker movie Stone, one of the all-time great motorcycle pictures.
Since then, Severin has continued to produce some of the very best special editions of cult movies, both on DVD and Blu-ray. They had the foresight to release Enzo Castellari's 1978 The Inglorious Bastards a full year in advance of Quentin Tarantino's similarly titled war epic. They resurrected Richard Stanley's cyberpunk classic Hardware, a great little post-apocalyptic sci-fi gem whose reputation had dimmed considerably since its moment in the sun back in the early 90s. They even tracked down one of Nicole Kidman's first movies, the Australian cult favorite BMX Bandits.
Severin has any number of worthwhile titles for the adventurous viewer but two in particular stand out and should be on the shelf of anyone who loves movies. Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre is an unforgettable journey into the beautiful and the bizarre. Unavailable in the U.S. for over a decade, Severin's Blu-ray represents the definitive presentation of this stunning film. The company's most recent release, Richard Rush's The Stunt Man, lavishes great care on one of my favorite films of all time. It's a funny, dark, mind-bending movie and I'm always jealous of people who are just getting to watch it for the first time. Both discs are must owns.
If you've never sampled Severin's work, there's never been a better time. In honor of their anniversary milestone, the company's online store is offering a 50% discount on all titles released prior to 2011. But don't dawdle. The sale ends at midnight on Friday, June 17. It's a great opportunity to stock up on some of the strangest movies you've never seen. Click on over and tell them the Sinful Dwarf sent you.