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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
Monsters invade Cannes beaches
Gore on the shore: Troma are back at Cannes
BBC News Online's Tim Masters discovers the flipside of the glitz and glamour of Cannes.

Orange-haired, and with fake blood streaming out of his mouth, Troma's head of production Doug Sakmann is not typical of the beachside schmoozers outside the American Pavilion.

A Cannes regular for some 25 years, Troma is a New York-based company that specialises in low-budget horror shockers. It shot to international success in the 1980s with the release of eco-splatter movie The Toxic Avenger.

But Doug and his blood-stained Troma cohorts are not at all happy at a Cannes clamp-down on their leaflet campaign.

Tim Masters: Beats a hasty retreat when the fake blood flies
"This year it's getting a little intense," says Doug.

"Every day the Troma team get up and put flyers in front of every door in every hotel room - on the first day this year they told us we'd be arrested, but we've been doing it when we can."

This year Troma is in town screening the premiere of Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV, alongside other delights like Terror Firmer, and Parts of the Family.

Troma has even established its own version of the Sundance film festival - Tromadance, now going into its third year.

"Troma is a separate genre - if you go into a video store you see you see horror, sci-fi, romance and you see Troma," says Doug emphatically.

Film promotion
Film promotion in motion
He waves a bottle of fake blood, to the worried looks of the festival goers on the beach.

"This is Troma blood - syrup and red food colouring - it's a trade secret!"

Not any more it isn't. Doug drinks some and proceeds to foam at the mouth. I begin to fear for my new light-coloured trousers.

"We have Troma screenings in our hotel," adds Doug, dripping spots of red across the sand, "but this year they said our fans are undesirable. We think they're beautiful."

I seek sanctuary among the gently swaying palms of the British Pavilion, where actors, execs and hacks rub shoulders in an atmosphere of calm.

Cannes is the film festival that never sleeps
News Online's Big Break Diary film director Jan Dunn and her producer are holding high-level talks to fund Jan's big feature film.

We meet each other later at a yacht party celebrating the Cannes premiere of actress Pauline Collins' new film Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War.

Also there are Collins' actor husband John Alderton and film critic Barry Norman.

The film's director Ian Sharp tells me that this is the 20th anniversary of his first visit to the Cannes festival.

"Cannes was very different then," he says, "you could wander into any film - I saw about 20 that week. Now it's all about officials stopping you going in."

British director Ian Sharp:
British director Ian Sharp: Twenty years of Cannes
But he's never forgotten seeing his name up on the billboards for his first major film, Who Dares Wins.

"The producer took me up to the Carlton hotel, and right in the centre was this massive poster which said Who Dares Wins starring Richard Widmark, Judy Davis, Lewis Collins and directed by Ian Sharp - that was a bit of a buzz I can tell you."

Twenty years on, Sharp says lot of good British films are being made, but many will never make it into the cinema.

"I've met a lot of British filmmakers out here - it's a vibrant time for making films, there's a lot money to make them, but very few places to show them - and these days marketing is everything."

Toxie hits the dance floor
As night falls, I swap the sedate surroundings of the yacht for the mad crush of the Troma beach party.

And what a party it is.

After waiting for nearly an hour just to get through the door, several hundred guests are treated to the sight of Toxic Avenger on the dance floor along with other characters from the Troma back catalogue.

But when the fake blood starts flying and the clothes start coming off, and someone produces a live snake, I realise it's time to call it a wrap.

Festival diary

Films in focus

The lowdown


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