Image: Severin Films

The ephemera obsessives at Severin Films specialize in rescuing and re-releasing odd and obscure films, and tomorrow the label that brought you Phobe: The Xenophobic Experiments and Dream Stalker presents another one for the ages with Suffer, Little Children.

Never before released on DVD or Blu-ray (officially, anyway), this amateur shot-on-video effort was the subject of hysterical media coverage calling for it to be banned upon its release in 1984. The problem? Writer/producer Meg Shanks cast actual children—students in her drama class, to be precise—as a gang of preteen Satanists out for grown-up blood. As the box for the film’s now hopelessly rare 1986 VHS release puts it:

Suffer, Little Children: a tale of a child’s demonic supernatural powers and the brutal.... terrifying results. Suffer, Little Children is a reconstruction of the events, which took place at 45 Kingston Road, New Malden, Surrey, England in August 1984. None of these events were reported in the press and now the house is scheduled for demolition in the immediate future.

HOW IN GOD’S NAME DID THE POWER OF THE DEVIL FALL INTO THE HANDS OF A CHILD?

As child dismemberment hits the mainstream with Warner Bros.’ upcoming movie version of It, it’s hard to believe anyone was worried that such an ultra-low-budget project would bring about the downfall of Western civilization. But things were different in 1984, when the U.K.. was in the midst of a moral panic over violent films that later came to be known as “Video Nasties.” Suffer, Little Children never made it to the British Board of Film Classification’s official list of banned titles, but the BBFC did deny it a rating—essential to theatrical or home-video release in the U.K. at the time—in its uncut form.

Severin’s release of Suffer, Little Children illuminates this fascinating chapter of film history, as well as the film’s extremely weird origins and production, in two new video interviews with director Alan Briggs and John Martin, author of the book Seduction Of The Gullible: The Truth Behind The Video Nasty Scandal. You can marvel about how far we’ve come in the past 33 years with an exclusive clip from Suffer, Little Children below, and pre-order the film on the Severin website.