Stage 1: The Print – This place (picture at the top) is the Hanwell Library. A small pokey joint that was pretty handy in the 80’s before the rise of the internet and still useful to old people who are technical luddites
This small borough library happens to be the place that kick started my obsession with cinema as a geek.
Back (way-way-back!) in 1988 I used to go to the library and see what was there, I saw this book called Cult Movies 3 by Danny Peary. This book was unlike anything and as I read it it, it opened a world like nothing else. Imagine being 14 (way-way-back) and you are reading about El Topo, Eraserhead, Mad Max 2 and the ultra mondo movie of all, Cafe Flesh. I became curious to discover these films and in that period (way-way-back) late night television was littered with cult movies. I managed to watch The Keep as a late movie, Zardoz and countless others. Films that are now rarely on the same channels and relegated to the niche that has to be searched. These cult movies blew my mind and I started to read more. I bought All three Cult Movies books which are now out of print and John Boorman’s book series, Projections among hundreds of others.
Stage 2: The analogue television – The second thing that blew me away was Alex Cox’s Moviedrome. Imagine a series where a presenter on a slow Sunday night spends 5 minutes talking about a curated Cult movie before the screening? Look at the second picture, look at the films that were screened during 1990 and 1991. An amazing collection. The first film I saw was Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. The rest I religiously stayed up for and was an instant film school of sorts!
Stage 3: The big screen – The Scala Cinema. A friend and I went to this run down cinema in Kings Cross to watch The Wicker Man. The place got shut down in the mid 90’s as they illegally showed Clockwork Orange. They got a print from France and screened it and when Kubrick found out he bankrupted them.
They showed super weird cult movies and all nighters like the evil dead series/ Hellraiser series amongst others. This was also the place I saw Cafe Flesh which is a one of the weirdest films made…. ever. I could say that the BFI was up there and I practically lived there during the 90’s but the Scala was a real proper grind house cinema. I still hunt out other films still but it’s not the same. Admittedly it’s easier to find a film but not as easy to “discover” something.
Nowadays there seems a super fringe place for enjoying classics like Aquirre Wrath of God and even Altman’s The Long Goodbye. When someone catches a true oddity of a film I am amazed it’s even able to be on their radar. When was the last time anyone saw on the schedules Zardoz, Aguirre or even Koyaanisqatsi?
Admittedly I am a fan of all these new platforms as I can now access more films then ever before but aside from me knowing what I want, how will someone be able to just stumble on a true oddity? Not being a Netflix member yet I was told that they are showing cult movies on their platform. Check them out and enjoy.