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May Day Movie Massacre

April 25, 2013

Netflix always purges some movies from its streaming service around the beginning of every month, but I was alarmed to see that 42 of the 286 movies my Watch Instantly Queue are slated to be removed on May 1st. Movies like Attack of the Puppet People, Invasion of the Bee Girls, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Thunderbirds Are GO. Pauline at the Beach, Wild in the Streets and The Masque of Red Death. A double double decapitation of The Thing With Two Heads and The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant. Michael Caine in both Billion Dollar Brain and Play Dirty. Altman’s Thieves Like Us, Malle’s Viva Maria!, Dassin’s Never on Sunday and Wilder’s One, Two, Three. Pasolini’s Trilogy of Life is being killed (though as a Criterion release it might show up on Hulu+, or at least it should). Say goodbye to The Food of the Gods, Gregory’s Girl and Dagmar’s Hot Pants, Inc. So long Queen of Blood, Mars Needs Women and Doctor Jekyll and Sister HydeBurnt Offerings, Angels from Hell, Caged Fury, Bad Timing, Kansas City Confidential, The Bed Sitting Room, Inserts and Smile will no longer be on tap.

It is an unprecedented May Day movie massacre.

There are a lot of great titles here, and even some good films. It looks like B-movies are bearing the brunt of the brutality, but other kinds of old and unpopular are also being punished. Why? Netflix spent $100 million on House of Cards, can’t they spend a pittance to make sure we can watch The Food of the Gods (one of many movies being removed that they do not have available on DVD) or Frogs? Which would you rather see, Kevin Spacey scheming or animals, giant or otherwise, getting their revenge against humanity? I am afraid this might mark the end an era. Starting out, Netflix was inclined to stream whatever it could, opening the door to the delights of obscurity. Maybe now they feel like they don’t have to do that anymore. And maybe they need to eliminate classic works by Eric Rohmer and Roger Corman in order to be able to pay Kevin Spacey’s manicurist.

It is true that of my 286 movies, most of the 42 on the the death list are among those I was always least likely to watch. But I liked knowing they were there if I needed them. The 244 remaining are an exciting selection to choose from. But compared to once we once had, can they ever be enough?

Update: Explanation here.

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