About Sub Rosa

City of the Vampires

Sub Rosa Studios LLC was founded by Ron Bonk as Salt City Video Productions / Salt City Home Video in 1992.  The company started with the intention of simply being JUST a production studio (living the dream, eh?), starting with our highly successful “What a Deal” instructional video on the antique business, then following with our first feature, “City of the Vampires”.  Both were shot on super VHS!  Lacking a reputable distributor for shot on video features – all but one had left the business for various reasons – Salt City decided to venture into distribution in 1993.  Instead of releasing one movie, we decided to split the duties and acquired two additional features, “Savage Harvest” and “Darkest Soul (aka “Gravediggers”)”.  The latter two experienced mixed results, but “City”, despite shoddy production values and just generally being a horribly bad movie, was a highly profitable release that sold over 2000 copies (production budget was just $3500), taking advantage of a market hungry for vampire movies.  The movie was permanently removed from distribution when copies sold out, having served its purpose of teaching Ron how to produce a movie AND successfully distribute it.  Salt City launched as a VHS label when the VHS market was flooded with studios and releases, and somehow survived and even thrived.

Killing Spree

Salt City went on to produce “Dark Descent”, the critically acclaimed “the vicious Sweet” and “Gut Pile”.  Taking note of the company’s success with “City” and several other releases, cult filmmaker Tim Ritter (“Truth or Dare”) took notice, and a friendship/partnership formed that continues till this day.  Releasing Tim’s films “Creep”, “Wicked Games” and “Killing Spree” in 1997 to huge numbers was one of the key ingredients to Salt City’s rise and success.

the vicious SweetStrawberry Estates

When the company finally incorporated in the late 90’s, the name was changed to Sub Rosa Studios LLC.  Sub Rosa expanded into several branches, producing dozens of features each designed to capitalize on underground marketplace trends.  Most of these movies were made out of studio/outside of New York.  In fact, “Strawberry Estates”, our most profitable production ever (made for JUST $400 and having returned nearly 75x that budget in gross sales) , was the only feature produced from the Syracuse offices during these time (several shorts were made as well, most notable “The Red Files” which were an expansion of the “Strawberry Estates” universe).

I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave

The most successful of the alt labels was Sub Rosa Extreme, headed by Eric Stanze in St Louis.  Eric’s branch produced such cult favs as “I Spit on Your Corpse, I Piss on Your Grave”, “Last House on Hell Street”, “The Undertow”, “Inbred Redneck Alien Abduction” and much more.  Our partnership with Eric actually had its roots in Salt City’s early days, having released his feature “Savage Harvest”.  Though Eric has since moved on to bigger and better productions (tho the door remains open for future partnerships) and great success, he remains one of our closest friend in this business!

Shatter Dead

Tim Ritter ran Sub Rosa Midwest/Sub Rosa Unbound to mixed success.  Instead of producing features specifically for hot trends we saw in the marketplace, SRMW mostly acquired titles, often making them harder to fit customer demands.  The other labels –  some designed as new studios with filmmakers like cult favorites John and Mark Polonia, Mike Watt, Mike Legge and Ryan Cavalline, while others were simply created to separate the different genres of titles we acquired (ie comedy, documentaries, erotica) – were a mix of attempted efforts to expand further and build the Sub Rosa brand.  But few of the releases from the other alt studios sold well, especially as the DVD market became more and more saturated.  And the acquisitions branch experienced similar mixed results – for every “Shatter Dead” success there was a release that either just broke even or out and out bombed.

Scrapbook

Sub Rosa built a large and loyal fan following for many years, but wanting a fresh start, Ron eventually formed SRS Cinema LLC, and left Sub Rosa to quietly close and die…

Only Sub Rosa never died… many people still refer to SRS Cinema as Sub Rosa, and to our surprise we heard from many fans who had grown up purchasing Sub Rosa releases and who were fans of the filmmakers and their movies.  Several of these fans had become filmmakers themselves, and contacted us seeking distribution for their features.  New partnerships formed, with filmmakers like Chris Seaver and Jonathan Straiton, but for all that, see the SRS Cinema story…

Meat Market
With the renewed interest in VHS in 2012, despite never thinking we would ever venture back into this format, SRS decided to launch a series of limited edition releases in honor of our 20th year as a distributor.  Shortly before the release of our first special edition VHS, “Day of the Reaper”, from, surprise, filmmaker Tim Ritter, Ron had the idea to resurrect the Sub Rosa label and put it back to work.

We thank all the fans for the years of support and kind words, and hope you all enjoy the new titles from an old friend…

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