For me one of the most lamentable aspects of theatrical distribution was the abolition of the double bill. It was common practice at one time for cinemas to offer support for the feature presentation, and try as I might, my own efforts at engineering double bills at the local multiplex often end in failure. The best I have managed was a double bill of Land of the Dead (2005) and A History of Violence (2005)…no prizes for guessing which was the ‘B’ feature! The double bill gave patrons the feeling they were having a proper night out, and also represented value for money. It was probably this latter point which heralded the death knell for this form of distribution. Far be it from cinema chains to actually give the customer a good deal. Of all the double bills I’ve come across in the history books surely the most mind bending was Don’t Look Now and The Wicker Man (1973). After the devastation of seeing Sgt. Howie burned to a crisp by Christopher Lee‘s pagan islanders, audiences would then experience the devastation of seeing Donald Sutherland murdered by a razor wielding dwarf in the passageways of Venice. Both films were distributed in the UK by British Lion, both films shared an interest in intricate plot details, both films fore grounded their settings and used their locations metaphorically, both films placed notable attention on character development, both became cult favourites, and at the time both were totally overshadowed by the self indulgent pretensions of William Friedkin’s bloated and banal The Exorcist (1973).
© Shaun Anderson 2011