On Wednesday night just off Upper Street, Islington, a curious queue of worshipers formed outside the glorious Union Chapel. No bell rang to summon them there and no single faith united them. They had come to worship at the altar of film.
The Jameson Cult Film Club made the inspired choice of location and throughout the week they had screened a selection of spooky greats both old and new. For HeyUGuys though there was only ever going to be one choice, that film was An American Werewolf in London.
John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London set precedents for the future of horrifying cinema that live on to this day. It also happens to be a jolly good movie. A head rolling through Piccadilly Circus, a stalking in Tottenham Court Road tube and (rotting) friends reunited in a XXX movie theatre ““ of these things a cult following was born. After all these years, the audacious on-screen transformation remains one of my favourite toe squirmingly scary scenes.
Those Jameson folk know what they are doing, the chapel was the perfect setting from the moment the doors creaked aside to grant us entry. The acoustics, the chill in the air, The Slaughtered Lamb”¦
Oh yes indeed, The Slaughtered Lamb. The Jameson Cult Film Club had recreated the oppressive yokel pub so that the audience might partake of a beverage or three to steel their nerves before the show. Candles flickered at a makeshift alter and a trussed deer watched glassily over proceedings as it swung from the vaulted ceiling. There was a slightly warmer welcome in the form of free drinks and popcorn but still *shudder*
Back down in the chapel the “˜locals’ chastised us as we waited for the film to begin. The pews were lined with tall glasses where hymnals ought to be and the air was filled with the clink of ice as Dutch courage was downed in a hurry. The church organist had been playing throughout but we suddenly recognised the chords ““ Blue Moon! Two backpackers wove through the aisles confused and a disembodied voice reminded them to “beware the moon“. Ooo!
I cannot believe I had forgotten how funny a movie it is. I must have literally been suffering from Nightmare Nazi Amnesia ““ how else could one forget about the home-invading Nazis? Beyond the atmosphere already created by the spectacular building it was the audience that made the true difference. I want those very people to be present at every film I ever watch. The cheering, whooping, laughing, gasping audience absolutely made my night. From Jenny Agutter’s prim but naughty Nurse Alex and her unintentionally hilarious one-liners to naked David Naughton and po-faced Brian Glover, it was a delight to hear the crowd respond with one voice. Even living impaired best friend Griffin Dunne got the chuckles and credit he deserved for (scene stealing) optimism in the face of limbo, suicide pacts and skin flaps.
If only every night at the cinema could be as memorable!