The name of John Carpenter is synonymous with the sci-fi and horror genres. Cinephiles everywhere know him as director of Halloween (1978) and The Thing (1982) – two major landmarks in film history that have stood the test of time and far transcended the ‘cult’ moniker to which they were once attached. The later works of Carpenter’s oeuvre, however, are still favourites amongst cult film fanatics, and it’s this demographic that Nottingham-based film club Kino Klubb decided to tap into when they screened Carpenter’s 1988 B-movie classic They Live last week at Broadway Cinema.
For those unfamiliar with this particular entry into Carpenter’s lengthy back catalogue, it stars former wrestler-turned-actor “Rowdy” Roddy Piper as Nada, a lone drifter who rolls into L.A., only to find out all is not what it seems: A mysterious voice appears on the TV calling for people to overthrow the government, suspicious comings and goings at the local church. Nada stumbles across a box of sunglasses that when worn reveal the world’s true (black and white) colours. Every scrap of media and advertising hides a totalitarian message commanding conformity through consumerism; posters and billboards plaster the city with slogans reminding us to “OBEY”, “SLEEP” and “WATCH TV”, and the wealthy are being ruled by grotesque aliens disguised as human beings. Of course, Nada is the only one who can bring them down and save the human race from becoming eternal slaves.
There’s little merit in re-reviewing it, but throw in a boomstick and an infinitely quotable line about chewing bubblegum and kicking ass, and They Live certainly bears all the hallmarks of a bona fide cult classic. Even the not-so-subtle anti-consumerist message still has some relevance today. Perhaps the mullets less so, but it’s an experience that, like a fine wine, gets better with age and has a whole community of fans behind it.
It’s exactly this sentiment that Kino Klubb wants to share with every film they screen, not just their Carpenter favourites. Founders Tara Hill, Joey Bell and Lotti V. Closs opened up shop a year ago with the idea of screening films that they wanted to see, for the public, every month. Beginning in Broadway’s own Lounge screening room and then moving to a monthly slot at Screen 22, they brazenly avoid anything mainstream, instead preferring to provide viewers with an eclectic array of films, as well as an immersive viewing experience unlike that of a regular cinema.
For each event, they design and handscreen their own posters and sometimes even redecorate the venue to suit the theme. Additional attractions also include competitions, short films and book readings (e.g. excerpts from Klaus Kinski’s autobiography, complete with life-size Kinski puppet made by local artist Suzy Faux Pas for their screening of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo). They even provide booklets to give an insight on the making-of or pop culture surrounding a film. Fancy dress isn’t mandatory, but certainly encouraged. You needn’t worry about looking out of place.
But Kino Klubb are just one excellent part of a growing grassroots film community in Nottingham. They’ve built close relationships with other Nottingham-based film club Kneel Before Zod and the team behind Mayhem Horror Film Festival, supporting and promoting each other’s events all for the love of extraordinary cinema. And after the success of They Live at Broadway, Kino will be returning to Screen 22 on 25th October to screen Italian Lovecraftian horror, The Beyond (1981). This Halloween will also mark Kino’s first year at Mayhem, where they will be holding a midnight screening of the late Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980).
Be sure to keep up with their programme and other upcoming events via their website here: www.kinoklubb.com. Fans of alternative cinema’s darker recesses won’t want to miss out.