In 1976, The Elite Cinema closed its doors for the last time in my small home town. For me, this signalled the fag end of my first period of going to the movies. In just over a year's time, Punk Rock would emerge, forcing me to take a break from the silver screen and embark on a musical journey taking me the length and breadth of England's clubs and concert halls. If the cinema had remained open, I'd like to think that I'd have continued attending screenings on at least a weekly basis but who knows? One thing I am sure of is that The Elite turned me onto the world of Horror Cinema, and the guy responsible for booking the films was a hero to me and my group of buddies. DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS, DRACULA AD72, THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA and BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW were just a few of the treats on offer, along with the likes of PUPPET ON A CHAIN, CABARET, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN and CHARIOTS OF THE GODS. Actually getting in to these films was invariably a hit-or-miss affair, with some members of staff willing to admit a group of snivelling schoolkids while others sternly pointed out we were underage and not allowed to view X Certificate fare. The Elite site is now a very small shopping arcade, with an adjoining night club open at weekends. Although we have possibly the best cinema complex in England now open in nearby Derby, I still have fond memories of my formative years at the flicks.
I was reminded of The Elite earlier today when perusing the listings at The National Film Theatre web site. I first became a member here in the 90s and made my first journey to London's South Bank to see a re- run of Wender's WINGS OF DESIRE. After that, I was hooked. My friends and I took in many films in this famous cinema complex, enjoying a mixture of old classics and first-run features: LIFT TO THE SCAFFOLD, NOSFERATU, THE LOST WORLD, THE ARCANE ENCHANTER, TENEBRAE, KILL, BABY...KILL!, THE STONE TAPE, UNDER THE SAND, THE STENDHAL SYNDROME, THE LAST METRO, DEAD RINGERS, ED GEIN, MALPERTUIS, LA DOLCE VITA and THE ADDICTION are just a handful of the delights we savoured. Those lucky enough to live in or around London should be aware that the NFT will be hosting a rather special event on Thursday 21st August when Piers Haggard, screenwriter Robert Wynne-Simmons and the utterly fab Linda Hayden will introduce a screening of BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW, along with a post-film Q&A. The rarely seen 1970s folk documentary CHILDREN OF THE MOOR will also be screened; the latter examining life in three remote villages in Dartmoor. Looks like being a wonderful night out and I only wish I could be there.