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It’s not the worst marketing scheme we’ve seen, though it’s not exactly that original either. Local filmmaker John Cregan will debut his teenage sex romp Devolved tomorrow night at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. To draw people to the screening, Cregan has decided to get in line behind a certain bespectacled billionaire and sue Washington City Paper:

As Arts Desk’s senior legal analyst—a title I just invented and one that should not suggest that I’m an attorney (I’m not)—I should address a few of Cregan’s statements. First, Cregan asserts that “recent studies have shown that suing Washington City Paper can increase your company’s online footprint by up to 3,200 percent.” The reality is in fact very much the opposite. Case in point: the last time we got sued, our servers crashed. Also, while Cregan posted his video last Thursday, it’s mustered fewer than 200 views. Heck, we didn’t stumble across it until last night.

Cregan also says he’s filed suits in Los Angeles, Kern County, and Nevada. We don’t cover Los Angeles or Nevada, and we’ve never heard of Kern County. Frankly, it sounds made up.

Finally, Cregan poses his most direct charge. “What did Washington City Paper do to me?” He won’t say, only that “[we] know what [we] did.” But a quick Google search for “John Cregan” turns up zero results on washingtoncitypaper.com. Is the alleged abuse that the City Paper has not—until this point—written about Cregan?

OK, Cregan isn’t actually a legal troublemaker. As a co-founder of Severin Films, Cregan curates a library of cult films and midnight movies. With a library of steamy exploitation flicks and Italian horror classics remastered for the DVD and Blu-ray eras, Severin is a kind of Criterion Collection for the Fangoria set. Recent titles include Bloody Birthday and BMX Bandits, best known as the debut of a 16-year-old Nicole Kidman.


Devolved, Cregan’s debut feature, is on an East Coast roadshow this month. The film, which stars Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Kattan as the lone adult, appears to be a randy mashup of Lord of the Flies and Screwballs, one of Severin’s raunchier titles. Cregan’s film is shamelessly low-budget and an obvious parody of both the William Golding classic and the high-school castes ingrained by decades of Hollywood’s depiction of adolescence. But in an interview last month with the website Gordon and the Whale, Cregan conveyed a desire to spoof,  and an abiding knowledge of, the high-school comedy genre.

It’s sort of about the dangers of peaking at 18. A lot of the idea came from a conversation I had with a guy on the football team on the night of our senior prom in beautiful Crystal City. … He was a painfully nice guy who’d had a great time in high school (think “Pink” Floyd), but was nervous about what was going to become of his life now that high school was all over. … My basic plan was to write a satire, something with a point, then wrap it within a romping comedic style and tone so that it wouldn’t seem so pedantic and preachy. To make it laugh-out-loud funny rather than wry and whimsical.

OK, Cregan, we’ve now written about you. How about you drop the suit and we’ll see you at the movie theater tomorrow?

Devolved screens tomorrow, 8 p.m. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema. 555 11th Street NW. $8 (202) 452-7672. Click here for tickets, and here to contribute to the Washington City Paper Legal Defense Fund.