Once-banned Pittsburgh horror film Midnight to get restoration and Blu-ray release | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Once-banned Pittsburgh horror film Midnight to get restoration and Blu-ray release

click to enlarge Cover for Midnight Blu-ray release - COURTESY OF SEVERIN FILMS
Courtesy of Severin Films
Cover for Midnight Blu-ray release
In the 1980s, a lot of things would lead to your film getting banned in the United Kingdom. Typically low-budget horror and exploitation films were dubbed “video nasties” and stripped from movie rental shelves as a way to prevent violent, sexual, or offensive content — however that was defined by the U.K. censorship group National Viewers' and Listeners' Association — from making it into British homes.

One of those banned films, Midnight, was shot in and around Pittsburgh by a group of Night of the Living Dead alums. Now, the 1982 horror film will receive a full restoration and Blu-ray release. The film was released to American audiences in the 1980s, and screened in some American cities. It has received VHS and DVD releases over the decades, but this is the first time it will be released on Blu-ray.

Severin Films, an independent studio dedicated to saving and preserving a wide array of films, announced that it would release a new 4K restoration of Midnight using the original camera negative. The film was written and directed by John Russo, who worked with George A. Romero on Night of the Living Dead before striking out on his own and shooting a number of films in and around Pittsburgh. Midnight also features John Amplas, who played the lead role in Romero’s Pittsburgh vampire film Martin and Living Dead makeup and special effects artist Tom Savini.
According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from Sept. 3, 1982, the film was made on a budget of $200,000 and, before going overseas, screened at area theaters and drive-ins, as well as in Florida, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Critical reception varied from calling it praise-worthy to mediocre, with one Pittsburgh Press review titled "Horrors! 'Midnight' Isn't Scary!" saying the film failed to be terrifying or funny.

Based on the description on Blu-ray.com’s website, it’s easy to see why Midnight, which according to IMDB was shot in Pittsburgh and throughout the Southwestern Pennsylvania region, was labeled a video nasty. The story of a runaway teen “abducted by a family of crazed homicidal rednecks for an ordeal of graphic butchery, shag carpet and devil worship” is painted as a “shocker fueled by equal parts grisly grindhouse jolts and '80s satanic panic.” That it was also marketed in the U.K. as Backwoods Massacre probably didn’t help either.

Severin set a Sept. 28 release date for the Midnight Blu-ray, which will come with a number of special features, including interviews with Russo, Amplas, and Savini. It can now be pre-ordered on the Severin website

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