Erotic shingle logs on to success

LONDON Is nothing sacred? Redemption Films, a British shingle specializing in irreligious and satanic-themed erotica, has been brought to its knees through the combined force of the economic downturn and changes in consumer habits.

The company, which was set up by Nigel Wingrove in 1992 and boasts films featuring naughty nuns, lascivious vampires and Nazi she-wolves, achieved notoriety in Blighty when its 1996 feature “Visions of Ecstasy,” a lurid look at the erotic visions of St. Teresa of Avila, was banned by the British Board of Film Classification on grounds of blasphemy.

Redemption survived that setback, and enhanced its catalog of “nunsploitation” pics, such as 2000’s “Sacred Flesh,” by adding a plethora of European gothic horror movies. But last month it succumbed to its debts and Wingrove filed for protection from creditors by means of the U.K. version of Chapter 11.

Wingrove partly blames his company’s plight on the fact that it has had four different U.K. distributors in two years. Each time the distributors went out of business, Redemption lost a few months’ income as well as suffering the disruption of setting up with a new outfit. The distributors’ woes were in turn caused by the decline of the DVD trade, which was accelerated by the growth in online piracy and the recession, which shuttered a large number of retail outlets.

There is a happy ending to this tale though, as Wingrove has just managed to buy his company back, with the help of other investors.

One upside of the traumatic year has been the chance to reflect on past mistakes.

“It has been quite cathartic,” Wingrove says. “People say that when you are drowning your life flashes before your eyes, and it’s like that when the company you love and have built up starts to go under. It is quite an emotional thing.”

He will now focus on his first love: the production of gothic tales of depravity within the holy and unholy sororities. “I’ve decided to go back to the roots of Redemption. We are going back to the niche that created us,” he says.

First up is “Sisters of the Armageddon,” which he describes as post-apocalyptic nun movie. He’s found two European co-producers and will shoot this year. The plan is to secure both theatrical distribution and TV sales, followed by distribution online. He sounds surprisingly upbeat about the company’s prospects. “If you are distributing films online you can control things more as there is no distributor in the way. The money comes straight to you. Long-term the Internet will be the savior of smaller companies like ours.”

There is no rest for the wicked, it appears.

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