Severin Films is one of the leading US boutique labels when it comes to genre pictures, but most of the time, their releases tend to be US only. In 2015 and 2016, they experimented with UK releases of The Killing of America and Birdemic: Shock and Terror (both excellent releases that I own in my collection) and over the next few years, would release a handful of titles and then things seemed like they weren’t meant to be.

That’s until this year, when pre-orders went up on Amazon for two of their flagship UHD titles from last year, making their UHD (and in one case, Blu-ray) debuts in the UK. What are those titles, you might ask? Those would be Romano Sacvolni’s Nightmare (or as it’s known over here, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain), a video nasty classic that’s had a variety of releases on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, but none of them have been perfect, and Frank Henenlotter’s 2008 film Bad Biology, a return to the director’s chair after an absence of 17 years. 

I watched Nightmares in a Damaged Brain for the first time last year, but was eager to see if this UHD was an improvement over the 2015 88 Films Blu-ray, and as a huge fan of Henenlotter’s work, I was beyond excited to check out Bad Biology for the first time, so I sent a request for screeners of both titles and in preparation for their release, I’ve compiled a 2-in-1 review with my thoughts on the films, the UHD transfers, the supplemental features and whether or not I’d recommend them! So sit back and enjoy my deep dive into two wacky genre films…

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

Director: Romano Scavolini
Screenplay by: Romano Scavolini
Starring: Baird Stafford, Sharon Smith, C.J. Cooke, Mike Cribben and Danny Ronan
Country: USA
Running Time: 99 min
Year: 1981
BBFC Certificate: 18

Last October, during my yearly Halloween horror binge, I decided to check out Romano Scavolini’s seminal video nasty classic Nightmare, or as it’s known in the UK, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain for the first time and thought it was okay. I admired the mean-spirited nature of the film and it made it stand out for slashers of the era, but didn’t find much to grasp on to outside of some alright special effects that were falsely attributed to Tom Savini (more on that later) so when the UHD release was announced, I was eager to revisit it, knowing what I was in for and hoping to love it more.

Now, before I get into the film, I’ve got to address the controversies surrounding the film. There’s the fact that the UK distributor David Hamilton-Grant was convicted for releasing an uncensored version of the film, despite the BBFC demanding 48 seconds of cuts, resulting in the only person to go to prison for one of the fabled “video nasties”. Then there’s the Tom Savini “Special Effects Director” credit, even though Tom never directed any of the special effects and was only on set for a single day to give advice to the actual special effects director. Funnily enough, both topics are covered throughout the excellent array of bonus features on this disc, so for those interested, those have you covered. The film’s notoriety in the 80s led it to remain banned over here until 2001, in a censored form. Even the 88 Films Blu-ray from 2015 was partially censored, so this Severin release is the first time UK consumers have been able to legally watch the film in its uncut glory. 

With a series of behind-the-scenes antics, surely this film justified the convictions, the controversies and the bans, right? Well, not quite. You see, Nightmares in a Damaged Brain is a run-of-the-mill slasher directed by Romano Scavolini who made his name with porno flicks before trying his hand in the horror genre, and in a lot of ways, it shows. The performances are pretty amateur throughout and while the gore effects are impressive, they’re nothing exceptional. The film follows George, a man who snapped at a young age and murdered his family, which resulted in him getting locked up in a psych ward until he’s reformed via a procedure that isn’t too far off of the MKUltra experiment. Unfortunately, the brainwashing doesn’t quite work and George goes on a killing spree. 

To say there’s much more of a plot outside of that would be stretching, as the film is mostly aimless sequences of people having sex and the psychiatrists trying to find George. There’s moments where it feels like the film is trying to have thematic substance, but it never really equates to much and it results in the film feeling like a slog. 

On my first viewing, I had more fun with it due to how vile it felt, but on this viewing, I was left more unengaged than anything, with so much of the nearly 100 minute runtime dedicated to slow sequences with less atmosphere than a Blumhouse production. The final act has some fun kills and reveals but the journey to that finale is a fairly dull one. I didn’t hate the film but I think watching it twice within the space of six months helped a ton. 

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain will always remain an interesting film, but mostly for the behind-the-scenes controversy that was so interesting, it led to multiple documentaries being made exclusively for this release that are far, far more compelling than the feature film itself.


Bad Biology

Director: Frank Henenlotter
Screenplay by: Frank Henenlotter and R.A. The Rugged Man
Starring: Charlee Danielson and Anthony Sneed
Country: USA
Running Time: 84 min
Year: 2008
BBFC Certificate: 18

After a controversial video nasty, we have a film from veteran B-movie legend Frank Henenlotter, director of such films as Basket Case, Brain Damage and Frankenhooker, all films that I love dearly. While I haven’t seen the two Basket Case sequels, I’ve always been interested in seeing them and Henenlotter’s (as of 2024) final feature, Bad Biology, which Severin decided to put out on UHD and Blu-ray last year in the States and this year in the UK. 

As a fan of prior Henenlotter films for their creative premises, hilarious moments and fun practical effects, I was excited to see Bad Biology and decided to go in knowing nothing about the film. Maybe that was a mistake, because Bad Biology is… interesting. Content warning for the review, as to describe this film without using some explicit language would be virtually impossible, so be warned. 

Jennifer (played by Charlee Danielson, who seems to have never acted again) is a woman with seven clitorises who has an interesting relationship with sex. You see, to get off, she needs to have aggressive sex, which usually ends with her sexual partners dying. Whether it’s her banging their heads on the floor or murdering them post-coitus, it never ends well for her partners. Due to her reproductive system being unique, this also means she conceives at an increased rate, instead of the usual nine months, she can give birth to a child in around two hours. What does she do with these children, you might be asking? She tends to leave them in hotel rooms, throw them away in bins and more. 

On the other side of the undisclosed town that the film’s set in is Batz (Anthony Sneed), a man with a penis that has conscious thoughts and feelings and wants to have sex with somebody, but unfortunately, aside from the sentient nature of his manhood, it’s also… alarmingly big. There’s a sequence in the film where Batz has sex with a prostitute and she ends up having an orgasm that lasts for almost an hour straight. It’s insane. 

Immediately, this seems like the type of goofy trash that I’d give full stars to usually, because of the insanity that’s on display, but unfortunately, Henenlotter’s direction here is pretty atrocious. To say that I’ve seen better acting in a Troma production sounds like an insult, but it’s the truth. I’m more convinced by Rowdy Roddy Piper playing himself in Pro Wrestlers vs Zombies or James Gunn playing a mentally disabled professor in Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV than I was by anybody in Bad Biology. That’s not to say that these people aren’t trying, Danielson and Sneed are committed to the material, which is commendable as it’s asking a lot from them. Danielson is rarely clothed and some of the dialogue that both herself and Sneed have to deliver is so ludicrous and juvenile, I’m surprised that it wasn’t saved for one of Zack Snyder’s director’s cuts.  

The filmmaking on display feels so inept that there were moments that made me believe Henenlotter must have had somebody ghost direct the film, but after viewing the bonus features included on the release, he was on set for the entire film so that can’t be true. There’s very little here that really feels like it has the charm or wittiness of those early features that Henenlotter made, and maybe it’s down to the other creative voice on this project. You see, the entire reason that Frank came out of retirement from directing features (prior to Bad Biology’s release in 2008, his last feature was Basket Case 3: The Progeny in 1991) was due to his friend, rapper R.A. The Rugged Man, who Frank had directed multiple music videos for in the past. R.A. has both producing and writing credits on the film, and his music plays throughout the feature too, in some particularly bizarre sex scenes, as well as during the end credits where he shouts out Henenlotter by name. Combining an exploitation filmmaker and a popular underground rapper might have been an ambitious move, but I don’t think it led to the great things the pair were expecting. 

I will say, judging from the general consensus on sites like Letterboxd, Henenlotter’s fans seem to really enjoy Bad Biology, with the film also having a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (although it only has five reviews and is listed under an alternate title, Sex Addict) so I feel out of the loop on this one, but I found Bad Biology to be amateur in all the wrong ways, with it feeling closer to a softcore porno than the comedy-horror that Henenlotter is usually capable of delivering. 

Is it a bad film? Honestly? I think so. But that doesn’t mean that there’s no enjoyment to be had. The last twenty minutes of the film feel like a great short film premise, and judging from Henenlotter’s debut short film Slash of the Knife, which involves genital mutilation on unsuspecting uncircumsized penises, maybe Bad Biology would have been better suited as a twenty to thirty minute short involving the sentient penis and woman with seven clitorises. That’s such an insanely goofy premise that works, on paper, but the execution just wasn’t there, unfortunately. Bad Biology’s final scene, or should I say, climax is pretty excellent though.


Nightmares in a Damaged Brain and Bad Biology release on the 26th February on 4K UHD and Blu-ray via Severin Films. Both formats are available to purchase individually, although the 4K UHD and Blu-ray combo pack for Nightmares includes a slipcover and an exclusive booklet. Both releases of Bad Biology seem identical, sans slipcover. 

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain’s transfer is disappointing. I own the prior 88 Films Blu-ray from 2015 which was pretty poor itself and while Severin’s new restoration improves on some of the flaws of the previous dated masters, it’s an overly washed out image that mostly looks like a decent Blu-ray at best. There’s no Dolby Vision or HDR10+ present and the HDR10 grade helps a little but I found myself massively underwhelmed by the presentation here. Two audio tracks are available, English DTS MA 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. I listened to the 5.1 track and the mixing is all over the place, but given the production of the film, that’s to be expected. If the film was of a higher technical quality, it’d be more egregious but Severin did the best they could with the materials at hand for the video and audio. 

Bad Biology’s UHD transfer is interesting. The original film released in 2008, and despite being shot on film, it was finished at 1080p so Severin went back to the original negatives for this release for a native 4K presentation which looks pretty good, all things considered but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a baffling choice for the UHD format. There’s no Dolby Vision or HDR10+, just regular HDR10 which does the job, but with the amateur low-budget nature of the film, I can’t say the film really jumps out on the format like other films tend to. It’s the best way to watch the film, but if the asking price of £24.99 is too much, I think the Blu-ray will satisfy most viewers. Two audio tracks are included, English DTS MA 5.1 and 2.0 tracks. I watched the film with the 5.1 track and it sounded perfectly adequate for the film. English subtitles are included. Overall, it’s a decent disc, but doesn’t really justify the leap to UHD and can only be recommended to die-hard fans of Henenlotter or this film in particular. Still, props to Severin for having the guts to give this the boutique treatment. 

The following extras are included: 

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

Disc 1: UHD

  • Audio Commentary With Star Baird Stafford and Special Effects Assistant Cleve Hall Moderated By Lee Christian and David DeCoteau
  • Audio Commentary With Producer William Paul
  • Trailers

Disc 2: Blu-ray

  • Damaged: The Very British Obscenity of David Hamilton-Grant
  • Audio Commentary With Star Baird Stafford and Special Effects Assistant Cleve Hall Moderated By Lee Christian and David DeCoteau
  • Audio Commentary With Producer William Paul
  • Kill Thy Father And Thy Mother – Interview With Director Romano Scavolini (71 mins)
  • Dreaming Up A Nightmare – Featuring Former President Of 21st Century Distribution Arthur Schweitzer, Actor/Unit Production Manager Mik Cribben, Production Supervisor Simon Nuchtern, Florida Producer/Special Effects Artist William Milling, Uncredited Editor Jim Markovic and Archival Interviews With Actor Baird Stafford and Special Effects Artists Edward French and Cleve Hall
  • The Nightmare Of NIGHTMARE – Interview With Erroneously Credited Special Effects Director Tom Savini
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Still Gallery
  • Trailers

Bad Biology

Disc 1: UHD

  • Commentary With Director Frank Henenlotter, Director Of Photography Nick Deeg and Actor Anthony Sneed
  • Archival Commentary With Director Frank Henenlotter and Producer A. The Rugged Man Thorburn

Disc 2: Blu-ray

  • Commentary With Director Frank Henenlotter, Director Of Photography Nick Deeg and Actor Anthony Sneed
  • Archival Commentary With Director Frank Henenlotter and Producer A. The Rugged Man Thorburn
  • Spook House – Interviews With Director Frank Henenlotter, Producer A. The Rugged Man Thorburn, Production Coordinator Michael Shershenovich, Director Of Photography Nick Deeg, Retired Detective David Henenlotter and Production Manager Chaz Kangas
  • In The Basement With Charlee Danielson – A Brief, Completely Off-Kilter Interview With the Elusive Miss Charlee Danielson and a Basketball
  • Deeg And Sneed – A Conversation Between Nick Deeg and Anthony Sneed
  • Swollen Agenda – Interview With Makeup Effects Artist Gabe Bartalos
  • Beyond Bad – Behind The Scenes Of BAD BIOLOGY
  • F*ck Face – Photographer Clay Patrick McBride Runs Around The Director’s Apartment Filming Guys Making Their ‘O Face’
  • SUCK – A Wonderfully Twisted Short Film By Anthony Sneed
  • Legendary Loser – Music Video By R.A. The Rugged Man
  • Thorburn Image Gallery – Publicity Pix, Behind-The-Scenes Shots, Video Covers And Death Pix

Nightmare in a Damaged Brain extras

Damaged: The Very British Obscenity of David Hamilton-Grant very well might be one of the best bonus features on any disc that comes out this year, although technically, it’s from last year as Severin’s UHD/Blu-ray release is a port. Focused entirely on the British distributor of Nightmares in a Damaged Brain David Hamilton-Grant, this feature length documentary directed by Sarah Appleton tackles all aspects of the peculiar figure, from his early work in the sexploitation genre to his eventual conviction for distribution of Nightmares. It’s a wild documentary that I had a blast with and is worth the price of admission alone.

This first archival audio commentary with actor Baird Stafford and special effects assistant Cleve Hall, moderated by Lee Christian and David DeCoteau was included on Code Red’s 2014 Blu-ray and DVD releases and it’s a decent track. The back and forth between the interviewees and moderators is solid, with Stafford and Hall having a variety of fun anecdotes about the odour of the negative, the Tom Savini credit and more. It’s the more toned down of the two commentaries, but it’s the most informative track, so it’s worth a listen.

This second archival audio commentary with producer William Paul was included on the 2015 88 Films Blu-ray and it’s a pretty fun one. From the get-go, he’s pretty humorous as he lampoons the film, but praises elements and it ends up for an incredibly entertaining track as Paul recounts the production and criticises a lot of people who worked on the film in a scathing manner that I almost couldn’t believe. This might be one of the funniest audio commentaries I’ve ever listened to and it’s great fun.  

Kill Thy Father And Thy Mother is a brand new interview with director Romano Scavolini that runs for 72 minutes long and covers everything you’d possibly want to know about the production from the man behind the film. Scavolini discusses a range of subjects, such as how MK Ultra was the key inspiration for Nightmare, how some of the big American studios wanted the film but wanted to tone down or remove the gore, which Scavolini was completely against, as well as the structure of the film overall. It’s a behemoth of an interview that’s fascinating and surprised me, as given the quality of Nightmare’s production, I expected Scavolini to be a director who wouldn’t have given as much thought to all aspects of the production. A solid watch!

Dreaming Up A Nightmare, a brand new documentary with a mixture of new and archival interviews from Arthur Schweitzer, Mik Cribben, Simon Nuchtern, William Milling, Jim Markovic, Baird Stafford and Edward French and Cleve Hal. All aspects of the production are touched on, from pre-production to the filming of Nightmare, as well as the publicity. Most interviewees speak highly of director Romano Scavolini, while others say he didn’t give the best direction which is interesting. Usually in documentaries like this, they’ll either be overly kind and seeing the mixture of both sides was something I found interesting. My favourite segment of the documentary was either about the publicity and reception to the film or the Tom Savini controversy. Hearing how they used negative reviews to promote the film to horror fans made me chuckle. This was a delightful documentary that I can’t recommend enough! 

The Nightmare Of NIGHTMARE is a fun new interview with special effects legend Tom Savini, who’s been incorrectly credited as the special effects director for Nightmare. He discusses how he was on set as a consultant and assisted with one scene, but then was falsely labelled as the man behind all of the effects. 

In terms of the deleted scenes, they’re an oddity as they don’t add much of anything, but they’re a fascinating inclusion due to them being exclusive to Dutch and Australian VHS copies of the film. Severin has included both with information about them, which I’ll relay below.

The following scene appeared in the Dutch and Australian VHS releases of Nightmare but was cut from all 35mm pre-print and print elements we were able to track down around the world. It was likely excised from the film before release in most territories but somehow the video masters supplied to Video For Pleasure in Holland and Video Classics in Australia contained an earlier edit.” 

This deleted scene involves the two children asking the babysitter when their mum will be home. After this plays, there’s another message from Severin.

One shot in the following scene has always been shorter in most releases of Nightmare. Our feature element is the most complete yet outside of Australian and Dutch tape releases and has all but 10 frames – less than half a second of the hand reaching for the kid’s neck – of this shot restored. For the sake of the completists we’re including the scene here with the one shot’s extra ten frames as it appeared in the Dutch VHS.”

While this is by no means a game changer, it’s a great inclusion for superfans of the film and for film preservation purposes. Kudos to Severin for this.

A stills gallery and two theatrical trailers are included.

An eight page booklet is included in the UHD/Blu-ray combo pack, but I wasn’t provided with that, unfortunately. 

Bad Biology extras

This brand new audio commentary with director Frank Henenlotter, director of photography Nick Deeg and actor Anthony Sneed is a great time. Henenlotter, Sneed and Deeg all have great energy throughout the track, and they open by mentioning that the Safdie Brothers may have stolen the credits idea from Bad Biology for their film Uncut Gems which is… a stretch to say the least, but as soon as you settle in for the bonkers energy this track has. Henenlotter openly admits that R.A. the Rugged Man wrote all of the “best parts” of the screenplay, there’s an array of fun anecdotes that’ll interest any fan of the film. 

The archival audio commentary with director Frank Henenlotter and producer R.A. the Rugged Man Thorburn is a pretty fun track, with the pair having a good time while watching the film recounting the shoot. I will say, the audio on this track is pretty amateur, with the pair feeling a little too far away from the microphones compared to a typical commentary, and there’s a lot of mic popping present. Still, it’s a pretty decent listen for people interested in hearing about the mindset between the two creative forces behind Bad Biology. 

Spook House: A brand new 30 minute documentary by Severin featuring interviews with director Frank Henenlotter, producer R.A. The Rugged Man Thorburn, production coordinator Michael Shershenovich, director of photography Nick Deeg, retired detective David Henenlotter and production manager Chaz Kangas, with footage shot at a haunted house because of course it was. The rest of the documentary is the standard talking heads interviews and it’s an entertaining 30 minutes. Henenlotter is a delightful presence and the rest of the interviewees are solid too. It’s a fitting documentary for the film.

In the Basement with Charlee Danielson is an utterly bizarre archival interview with Charlee Danielson who spends four minutes explaining how she got the role for Jennifer in Bad Biology while slamming a basketball around a room, seemingly with the intent on destroying everything in sight. It’s low quality, it’s unhinged and even if it makes little to no sense, it’s perfectly in line with the attitude of the feature.  

Deeg and Sneed, a brand new in-depth conversation with director of photography Nick Deeg and actor Anthony Sneed that runs for an hour and 6 minutes. The pair discuss how they became attached to the project, their working relationship with Henenlotter and R.A. The Rugged Man, with Deeg working on a music video for the pair before he got the job as DoP for Bad Biology. Hearing how Sneed was a rapper prior to starring in Bad Biology without any intention of being an actor was absolutely fascinating and the pair have a great dynamic in this interview. The highlight of this release, for sure.

Swollen Agenda, a brand new interview with makeup effects artist Gabe Bartalos that’s a pretty fun watch. Gabe speaks highly of Henenlotter as well as working on Bad Biology. When Gabe says that Henenlotter loved nudity and making a pornographic exploitation film, I couldn’t have agreed more given the final product. To date, it’s the only extra I’ve ever watched for a film containing the line “the 30 inch long monstrous penis I sculpted.”

Beyond Bad, an archival 2008 documentary on the film which highlights behind-the-scenes footage during the shoot and offers a look into how the production was, Henenlotter’s directing style and more. A good fly-on-the-wall piece that runs for half an hour.

Fuck Face, an archival 2010 featurette with the photographer Clay Patrick McBride who took the ‘Fuck Face’ pictures that are present in Bad Biology. Considering the images are fairly disturbing in the film, it’s interesting to hear from the man behind the photos, but he’s a pretty wild individual. Charlee Danielson’s present here too, as well as Henenlotter and R.A. themselves. It seems like the crew had a blast making this behind the scenes, which is great to see.

SUCK, a short film directed by star of Bad Biology, Anthony Sneed is included, as well as Legendary Loser, a music video from writer/producer R.A. The Rugged Man.

An image gallery is also included, with over 240 images that range from publicity stills to behind-the-scenes shots.

While I wasn’t a fan of either film, Severin went above and beyond with the supplemental content on each title. Multiple documentaries for each film, in-depth interviews with the cast and crew, audio commentaries from all involved and more make both releases the definitive versions of both titles. And while the UHD treatment probably wasn’t needed for either title and the transfers leave a lot to be desired, they’re decent discs overall that’ll please hardcore fans. 


Where to watch Nightmares in a Damaged Brain
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