RADIANT CIRCUS is celebrating our first year of subscriber support by sharing some of our favourite discoveries. Our journeys across London’s independent film scene often take us way past midnight and into the realms of the city’s cult screenings, late night movies & (not so…) classic attractions.
By RADIANT CIRCUS
In what will be the first in a new series of REGULAR… screen guides, we’ve listed the people and places you can rely on for London’s truly alternative screen attractions. These are the places where you can find London’s late nights, all-nights, double and triple bills as well as genre cinema of all shapes and sizes. Given that some of our favourites are on hiatus or not as regular as this list will allow, we’ve also included some honourable mentions.
In-keeping with our first guide to some of our favourite London indie venues, we’ve made our own EMOJI MOVIE-inspired trailer…
You can keep track of what’s projecting where in our weekly screen digests. As usual, everything is free online or you can get our content emailed directly – and support RADIANT CIRCUS to make more lists like this one – with a low-cost monthly subscription at patreon.com.
PART ONE: LATE NIGHT MOVIES (A to Z)
Midnight is not just a late scheduling slot but a time when some movies, that might seem slight, strange or insufferable at other times, come alive (or maybe it’s just your body shutting down and brain elbowing its way into a dream state…). It can also be a great time to just sit back and binge, snuggling the night away with your favourite cinematic stimuli…
ALL-NIGHTERS at The Prince Charles
Midnights come in different guises at The Prince Charles, but mainly in the form of all-nighters. As we draft this guide, the Hogwarts collective will be enjoying/enduring the complete/sold out HARRY POTTER marathon (21 APRIL 20:45pm to 22 APR 17:40), which returns next month (26 MAY 20:30).
Previous listings have included classic, modern and Italian horror (as mart of the annual HORROROCTOBER programme) and the ever-popular LORD OF THE RINGS extended trilogy. Newcomers include Wes Anderson (27 APR 21:00), Sly Stallone (26 MAY 21:15) and the far comfier sounding Disney Pyjama Party (27 APR 21:15).
Survivors photos are the ultimate prize. We look forward to reporting from an all-nighter soon.
LATE NIGHTS at Everyman Screen On The Green
Starting at 23:30 on Saturdays throughout the year, the programme here is often one of slightly more mainstream movies with a twist. Recent screenings have included CASABLANCA, DONNIE DARKO, JACOB’S LADDER and MOONLIGHT. Coming soon, we’ll be listing SHUTTER ISLAND (04 MAY 23:30) and BLACK SWAN (11 MAY 23:30).
MIDNIGHT EXCESS at Rio Cinema*
Launched by Ranjit S. Ruprai aka SUPAKINO in 2019, MIDNIGHT EXCESS aims to “bring back the thrill of late night movies and subversive double features”. One of the unique parts of this plan is that Ranjit is collaborating with other indie film clubs and programmers to show the type of repertory cinema that wouldn’t otherwise get a chance.
MIDNIGHT EXCESS started with a Joan/Jackie Collins double in collab with Zodiac Film Club (THE STUD/THE BITCH , 16 FEB) and continues with The Celluloid Sorceress for a Vanity double (BERRY GORDY’S THE LAST DRAGON / NEVER TOO YOUNG TO DIE, 11 MAY 23:00+). After that comes an as-yet unannounced programme with Amos Levin (15 JUN) and we know more dates are in the pipeline.
PART TWO: DOUBLE BILLS (A to Z)
Double bills have a reputation as a hard sell in the modern climate, as if our Netflix-streaming brains have atrophied and can’t cope with the pressure. Or maybe it’s because some venues like to charge for each film, effectively pricing audiences out with two separate tickets for what should be a continuous experience…? However they come packaged, we think doubles are an integral part of alternative screen culture. The very best ones illuminate your night with a yin and yang contrast and are a real test of film programmers’ skills.
London is blessed with an amazing team of expert volunteers programming silent film under the Kennington Bioscope banner at The Cinema Museum. Every three weeks or so, they project silent classics in original formats with live piano accompaniment. Each evening offers a full supporting lineup, which can include a main and second feature or a main feature and supporting shorts (so it kinda fits in here…). As if that wasn’t enough, Bioscope make life busy for themselves by adding in Comedy (27 to 28 APR) and Railway weekenders (amongst other special events).
THE PRINCE CHARLES
As you’d expect, the Prince Charles is also a fine place to find double bills, often focused on well-worn fan favourites like BLADE RUNNER, ancient and modern. Coming up are back to back Keanus, with JOHN WICK + JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 (03 MAY 18:45).
REGENT STREET CINEMA
London’s historic home of moving pictures regularly screens double bills – often in afternoon and Bank Holiday slots – even going as far as programming an exciting double bill of double bills this Easter (which naturally became our featured attraction…).
Coming up, we’ve spotted: BEING THERE + HAROLD AND MAUDE (05 MAY 15:00 + 17:30); THE LAST DETAIL + COMING HOME (19 MAY 18:00 + 20:10); SHOPLIFTERS + MABOROSI (03 JUN 18:30 + 20:55); A KISS BEFORE DYING + THE HARDER THEY FALL (23 JUN 14:00 + 16:00); and, HALSTON + STUDIO 54 (08 JUL 18:30 + 20:55 / 09 JUL 18:30 + 20:55).
A word from their box office: “You can book both films in a double bill in the checkout process – and save £7 in doing so.” Which makes for a good price.
WORLD WIDE WEIRD!
World Wide Weird! frequently presents great double – or even triple – bills with added-value special features of 60s, 70s and 80s horror from around the world. Previous events have focused on such varied topics as Indonesian Horror, Mario Bava, Paul Naschy, 70s Satanic Panic, Greeksploitation, Bollyhorror and Families From Hell. Their next gig is a Turkish Horror Double Bill (28 APR 19:00).
PART THREE: CULTS & (NOT SO…) CLASSICS (A to Z)
We’re bound to double dip here, because cult cinema has such a broad definition, particularly when you don’t have to stay up late for it…. We’ve tried to hem ourselves in by focusing on distinctive film programmes that have an alternative flavour and can’t be found anywhere else.
THE CINEMA MUSEUM
Making its second appearance in this list, The Cinema Museum is a hotbed of cult offerings, sometimes from their original celluloid. Following the same brand bible, and making regular appearances in our listings, are Kennington Noir, Vintage, Talkies, Classics and Shoot-em Ups along with relative newcomers like Women & Cocaine Presents (which celebrates “the fierce and liberated women of Pre-Code cinema. From the period of 1930 to 1934, before the introduction of censorship”).
Coming attractions include the following under the Talkies banner: TROUBLE IN PARADISE (25 APR 19:30); GUILTY HANDS (02 MAY 19:30); MANDALAY (09 MAY 19:30); and, JEWEL ROBBERY (16 MAY 19:30). Vintage presents DANGEROUS WHEN WET (05 MAY 14:30), and Noir gives us CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS 35mm (15 MAY 19:30).
CULT CLASSIC COLLECTIVE with Rochester Kino at Genesis Cinema
This one is commendable for three overwhelming reasons: 1) you’re supporting one of London’s true indie cinemas (see also Cinema Museum, Rio Cinema, Deptford Cinema etc); 2) the programme of monthly events features impeccably chosen cult classics of world cinema; and, 3) The chance to chat about the film in the bar afterwards with your fellow cinema-goers and the inspiringly well-informed Nick Walker from Rochester Kino.
Recent listings have included RINGU, POSSESSION, and AKIRA. Coming attractions include what looks like a special edition as part of the venue’s ongoing David Lynch season, THE ELEPHANT MAN (02 MAY 18:30).
DEEPER INTO MOVIES
We started going to Deeper screenings for well-chosen cult favourites like BURROUGHS: THE MOVIE paired with NAKED LUNCH. The programme has been expanding ever since, and taking over new venues like Miranda at the Ace Hotel, Shoreditch, The Five Bells and Peckham Levels. Titles are currently majoring in music, photography and fashion docs, creating a unique programme that regularly sells out (their celebration of Sonic Youth did just that at the considerably more capacious Rio Cinema).
Forthcoming events include: Bret Easton Ellis introducing THE PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (27 APR 18:00, BFI); Wong Kar-Wai Lecture by Tony Rayns (28 APR 15:00, Moth Club); Tracy Emin Screenings inc TOP SPOT (28 APR 15:00, The Five Bells); MYSTERIOUS SKIN (28 APR 19:30, The Five Bells); and, CLIMAX (06 MAY 20:00, Moth Club). There are FREE screenings at Peckham Levels of ISLE OF DOGS (06 MAY 19:30); JUICE (13 MAY 19:30); and, THE CRAFT (20 MAY 19:30).
The anarchic community-approach to film programming means that this is – de-facto – a great but occasionally unpredictable place to catch cult classics in all their myriad form. Mainly running in short seasons programmed by individual or small teams of volunteers, recent selections here have included the films of Tromaville (with a very special appearance by Lloyd Kaufman), overlooked Frankenstein films (including JESSE JAMES MEETS FRANKENSTEIN’S DAUGHTER) and a selection of rotting Zombie movies from around the world.
Current seasons include: ANG LEE’S CHINESE CLASSICS, NORDIC FILM NIGHTS, SCI-FI SUNDAYS and a resurrection of ZUMBIS. We know that much more is in the pipeline and look forward to covering new season announcements in our forthcoming Deptford Cinema Channel.
DUKE MITCHELL FILM CLUB
If original format screenings and VHS archives are your bag, then this is the walking definition of cult. The annual DukeFest promises “premieres, trailers, 35mm action, found footage, VHS oddities and much more!”. If you already know you love – or would love to see – these previously screened titles, you’ll know you’ve found your home: BASTARD SWORDSMAN, THE SINGING FOREST, SREET WARS, COOL CAT SAVES THE KIDS, and 20 YEARS OF MADNESS.
DukeFest 2019 has been locked for 28 to 31 JUL.
LOBOTOMY ROOM GOES TO THE MOVIES
There’s something about FREE screenings of cult classics in an art-deco cocktail lounge that’s hard to resist. Lobotomy Room regularly screens at Fontaine’s Bar on Stoke Newington Road, serving up ample John Waters, Douglas Sirk at his campiest and RADIANT CIRCUS fave, COBRA WOMAN. Their motto? ‘BAD MOVIES FOR BAD PEOPLE’.
Their next gig is a dance party, promising more John Waters (soundtracks this time) and “savage rhythms to make you writhe and rock!” (26 APR 22:00).
NOVA NIGHTS at The Horse Hospital
The Horse Hospital is the counter-cultural satanic corn doll of London’s alternative cinema scene and is home to all sorts of peculiar delights. We regularly return for, amongst other events, Billy Chainsaw’s NOVA NIGHTS which are on their way to their twentieth edition.
Billy programmes with a great generosity for new filmmakers, emerging talent and lesser known artists, mingling screenings of HELLBENT and A NIGHT TRAIN TO TERROR – chosen by horror luminaries Nicholas Vince and Graham Humphreys – alongside DIY joke shop horror movies by Calieb Thresher, Russ Gomm’s folk horrors and O. B. De Alessi’s sublime KUO’s EYES.
Episode #17 promises “An Experimental Film and Horror Extravaganza with Eric Leiser and Samantha Oči” (23 APR 19:00).
SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE
Science Fiction Theatre regularly offers sensational screenings of less familiar science fiction masterworks, framing each presentation with a talk on related themes and preserving their programme with bespoke art cards (and now a book!).
Quite frankly, we wouldn’t be doing what we’re doing without head honcho Graham’s encouragement (and we know several indie programmers who feel the same way), so we have a lot to blame/thank them for. Previous screenings include: COLOSSUS: THE FORBIDDEN PROJECT, THE QUIET EARTH, THE DAY AFTER, THE YEAR OF THE SEX OLYMPICS, QUATERMASS AND THE PIT, THE TRUMAN SHOW and DEMON SEED. You can also read our write-ups of NO BLADE OF GRASS and MIRACLE MILE.
The next edition comes in the form of the largely forgotten ICEMAN + TALK: Cold Facts About Cryopreservation (24 APR 18:45).
ZODIAC FILM CLUB
Beginning with a shared love of horror, pulp, thrills and mystery, Sarah Kathryn Cleaver and Jordan Storm Louise set up Zodiac Film Club. You can expect carefully chosen screenings every month, a film for each sign. Previous screenings include THE BEGUILED, JENNIFER’S BODY, JAWBREAKER, THE DREAMERS and BUT I’M A CHEERLADER. The Zodiacs helped launch MIDNIGHT EXCESS with their collab with SUPAKINO for THE STUD/THE BITCH and celebrated their first birthday recently with guest curator Tree Carr for VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS at The Castle Cinema. Nothing new announced as we type, but we know there’s much more to come.
PART FOUR: HONOURABLE MENTIONS
This is a list we’ll keep on coming back to, updating and shuffling as we go. For now, we will be keeping our eye on the following, listed here as honourable mentions either for not being regular enough or for taking a well-earned break.
CIGARETTE BURNS CINEMA
One of London’s preeminent purveyors of alternative cinematic treasures (with an always excellent taste in films in their original formats), Cigarette Burns Cinema now regularly sells out at Barbican with both one-offs and residences. The last show we caught was Henri Clouzot’s S&M shocker LA PRISONNIÈRE and we said this about THE EVIL WITHIN back in 2017.
CRAP FILM CLUB
Currently on hiatus… does exactly what it says on the tin. We last saw BLOOD FEAST there, but there has also been GET EVEN, LADY TERMINATOR, AEROBICIDE, FOR YOUR HEIGHT ONLY and STAR CRASH, amongst others. Let’s hope they get their prep done for a promised Steven Seagal marathon and return soon…
Another programme for Ranjit S. Ruprai aka SUPAKINO that screens at the Rio. This one promises double bills of something from Bollywood with something from somewhere else. We love the concept and will boost them on this list when the strand returns.
DOMINION OF SCUM
We love a free screening, particularly if it takes place in a queer dive like The Glory. Following a brief hiatus, Dominion Of Scum returned recently with PIECES. We’ll keep tracking to see what else comes down the line.
FOREVER YOUNG FILM CLUB
If coming of age movies get you going, this could be the club to climb onboard… Previous events have included a collab with SUPAKINO for BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM, as well as LOVE, SIMON, THE CRAFT, PRETTY IN PINK, BRICK, GIRLHOOD and a recent sold out screening of MID90S at House Of Vans. Nothing scheduled at the moment.
Not regular enough to appear in our main listing but an absolute treasure, and a great way to round things off. Specialising in “transnational remakes”, this one specialises in such crude delights as THE TURKISH EXORCIST, TURKISH STAR WARS, and the Mexploitation double of BATWOMAN + SANTO & DRACULA. We can only hope for more…
[WHO HAVE WE MISSED?]
If we’ve missed you – or you’re hovering to submit a Temporary Events Notice to reach beyond midnight with your next screenings – let us know!
Our next guide in this new series will be: Regular Queers.
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*THE SMALL PRINT: As accurate as we could make it. Apologies for any errors. Updates & corrections will be made to the online version. Event dates/times are subject to change by the venue/organiser. We try to only list events you can book for at the time of posting: however, some events may still be sold out. Please click quickly! We don’t filter by age/certification: all readers & subscribers should be 18+.
*We have pale & pasty skin in this late night game as the MIDNIGHT EXCESS MEDIA PARTNER…