Thursday, May 18, 2017


Every year the gorgeous, facially-stubbled, overpaid, over-coiffed and self-obsessed in the International World of Filmmaking head for the town of Cannes on France’s Mediterranean coast. Amongst them are people who believe film can rightly be called art, and even some who can make a squillion from a movie with audience appeal.
This observer believes audience appeal is no longer the result of careful study and good story management but can be bought by special effects, comic book characters and  putting  minor celebrities  on screen (some described as ‘actors’).

 Many A-list movies use meagre dumbed-down comic book plots which previously would have been derided as suitable only for B-movies. Of course there are exceptions, you say–but even so, if yesterday’s B-movies have become today’s A-movies, what has happened to the drivel we used to avoid like the plague? The answer lies in the gargantuan global structure of film investment, production and marketing. Take a look at Cannes and you’ll see the whole thing in miniature.
Think of the Cannes Competition as an iceberg. The A-list movies and the film stars are window dressing on the tip of this iceberg. The vast bulk of the Cannes monolith lies underneath – literally on the lower ground floor - where the companies buy, sell and distribute the movies. 

 If anyone asks “show me the money”, tell them to look down here. Underneath the main competition building, the Palais des Festivals, (at its inaugural Festival in 1949 its roof blew off during a storm) is a seething termite’s nest of tiny low-ceilinged marketing booths representing hundreds of companies, some flying obscure national flags and flaunting so-called national film industries – booths populated by swarthy, sweating men of short stature who talk too fast gesticulating against a background of lurid posters.

They all have ‘product’ to sell - movies in every language known to the human race, mostly violent and bloody, others gloomy and repressed. For a moment you may think you are in a bustling slave market until you realise that this is where the D-grade now B-grade movies are on offer.It’s not all hard-nosed. There’s glamour, or rather dreams of glamour, down here with Dante. Writers, actors and directors struggle towards a big break; they are the traditional fuel which feeds this part of the industry. These people will work for peanuts and has-been TV actors queue up in the hope of reviving their careers. A very few titles like The Winged Serpent, The Evil Dead, and Polyester were successful in the 80s, but most died a death in the drive-ins (the drive-ins themselves died soon  after).
The growth of cable television helped support the low-budget film market. Many B movies quickly wound up as "filler" material for 24-hour cable channels or were made expressly for that purpose (Tarentino’s Grindhouse series is a high-budget tribute to those movies). The broadcast version of the midnight movie remains popular and low-budget horror also appears in Hotel TV menus worldwide. The video rental market became vital to B-film economics when producers who used the right model aimed to make a profit not from theatrical rentals but from the video store. Now DVDs are nearly dead (remember VHS & Betamax videotapes, 8-track audio and video casettes?) new technology now sees B-movies going direct to Netflix and others to be cabled or streamed digitally to viewers. A few ‘new releases’ might appear briefly in those theatres where the carpet sticks to the bottom of your shoes, so it’s better to watch B-movies at home.

Your correspondent is a film aficionado of exquisite taste and sensitivity. That is why in May 2015 he did not attend the Cannes Festival and did not view the three movies featured which will be featured  in  this report at a later  date,  if Little Darwin can get its  act  together , preferring to remain pure in his prejudices.  I have chosen a suite of three movies from Blood Bath Pictures, distributed by Osiris Entertainment of Unit 3, 9428 Eaton Avenue, Chatsworth, California.

NOTE : Dear reader , it is hoped to overcome the technical problems which annoyed  Burleigh , who is  soon to be  nominated for  an Academy Award  in  a reshoot  of the  African Queen , stranded on  a French canal, next to a  parking lot for grey nomads .   However, be warned  that  the   said Blood Bath  Pictures    contain  a  shocking  amount  of   nubile  flesh .