Thursday, September 03, 2015

Below the Bargain Basement

I was hoping to have another holiday film completed for today's post, but life intervened.  Basically, yesterday I just decided that I'd rather be out wandering around an Iron Age hill fort than sat inside editing a home movie.  I am on holiday, for God's sake!  Even when I eventually got home yesterday evening, I decided that I'd rather sit up half the night drinking Guinness and watching dodgy films on my laptop than doing that editing.  All of which seemed to result in waking up to an upset stomach this morning, which delayed my departure for today's travels, which I've only just got back from.  But to get back to the films I've been watching, (as opposed to editing), I've spent the past few days exploring the underbelly of British cinema.  I've watched three eighties movies made on even lower budgets than the average Lindsay Shonteff movie.  It's like I've finally discovered that basement below the bargain basement.  Two were never released in any form and have, in recent years, found their way firstly onto the collectors circuit and now onto You Tube and other video hosting sites.  The only one receive a release was one of the earliest direct-to-video releases in the UK, entirely shot and edited on videotape.

Obviously, the physical quality of the versions I saw was pretty poor, meaning that any judgements I make on them have to be tempered by this fact.  I'm not going to discuss them here but, hopefully, I'll look at each of them in greater detail in the near future.  What I will say, though, is that, as with the Lindsay Shonteff triple bill I spent all night watching last year, I found the experience of watching these 'lost' movies quite exhilarating.  There is something about the more audacious poverty row productions which give me a kick that big budget mainstream productions no longer can.  Perhaps it is the knowledge that what I'm watching really is the sharp end of movie making, with no margin for error in budgets, shooting schedules and the like, which gives these films such an edgy feel.  This is film-making in the raw - movies made by people with few resources other than sheer determination.  The fact that any of them are ever completed, let alone released, is nothing short of miraculous.  I recently read somewhere that it takes something like nine years to get the average film made, from conception to release.  Which is ridiculous.  The people behind these low-rent movies I've been watching could knock them out in a few weeks, months at the most.  They just went out there and made the bloody things.  Which is how film making should be (and used to be back in the fifties and sixties, for the smaller production companies like Hammer, Tigon or AIP, at least). 



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