The Redemption Films version of the Hammer Horror film is not for the faint-hearted.
The importance of Nigel Wingrove’s Redemption Films should not be understated. Before he launched his VHS label, the films of Jess Franco were barely seen in the UK and Jean Rollin’s movies were completely unreleased. He brought a huge amount of European horror and sex films to British video for the first time and presented them in the best versions possible. He also battled continually with the British censors and was instrumental in helping change the laws on hardcore porn. He has been a thorn in the side of the moralisers for decades, through thick and thin, and essentially invented the idea of the cult film video label.
Of course, his visuals – very much the Redemption style – are controversial, to say the least. Certainly, the Redemption imagery is instantly recognised, helped sell the label and was widely copied, but you either like them or you don’t – and those who don’t, very much don’t.
This imagery appeared on all things Redemption – the video covers, calendars, mugs, posters, T-shirts and so on. The most unusual of these (unless someone cares to correct me) was a 1995 set of collector cards tied to his reprint of the Countess Dracula novelisation by Michel Parry. These were an expansion on the black and white photo inserts in the book, and were a rather florid and full-blooded reinterpretation of the rather staid Hammer film. Playing the Countess was Wingrove’s muse, Eileen Daly, and joining her were the popular glamour model Marie Harper and a model identified only as Maria. As with all Redemption imagery of time, Chris Bell took the photos with Wingrove art directing.
The set was a limited edition of two thousand, which I’m sure Nigel would agree was perhaps a bit ambitious. But you know what? I’m glad these exist as both mad folly and an example of mid-Nineties sleaze culture.