Monday, 26 October 2009

(500) Films of Empire - Day 40 - Brighton Rock(s)

So I'm in the middle of a 7 hour train journey back up to Aberdeen, coming to the end of my 1188 mile round trip journey to Brighton involving planes, trains and automobiles (well one taxi), all just to watch a film on the list, #32 ALIEN.
Was it worth it? Most definitely!
I had never been to Brighton before so I went for wander along the pier and had some fish and chips on the seafront before wandering up past the pavilion to the grand old Duke of York's for the film.
The Duke of York's is part of the CityScreen group, whom I work for at The Belmont. The cinema is 100 years old and the UK's oldest purpose built cinema. It has all the old school charm and sense of nostalgia and history that is sorely missing from the modern multiplexes. A tiny box office, kiosk and bar lead through to a wonderful auditorium with working curtains, piano and a balcony that Statler and Waldorf would be most comfortable hurling abuse from. All in all, the perfect venue to watch this classic film. I even got a tour of the projection booth!

32 - Alien - 5 stars
The screening was of the original theatrical cut of the film and the print we watched was from 1979, complete with all the scratches and imperfections around the reel changes that have gathered over the years, but it was in great condition for being that old, and really added to the event.
Before starting this quest I would have ranked Alien in my top ten of all time. Is it still there? Yes.
It still holds the power to shock, as was witnessed by several audience members jumping out of their skin (possibly having never seen the film before). It was described as Jaws in space, the perfect blend of horror and sci-fi.
The movie Halloween had come out in 1977 and is an obvious influence as the notion of the final girl is used here and the producers cast Sigourney Weaver as Ripley (when it had originally been written as a male part). It would become her defining role, really showing Ripley as the tough heroine in the sequel.
The pacing is very slow in the film, unthinkable these days, and nothing really happens for 30 minutes, it's all character building.
There was a Q&A with the editor Terry Rawlings after the film and he said that it was all deliberate, about pushing the tension as far as they could before delivering the scare. Everything is taken at a slow pace until Ripley starts the self-destruct sequence and then it gets faster.
The death scenes are still some of the best in horror; the chestburster being the most iconic (fear of male rape, giving birth, etc) but my favourite is Dallas in the air shafts (and no it's not just because we have the same name).
Absolutely facehuggingly brilliant!

The Q&A with costume desginer Jon Mollo and editor Terry Rawlings was informative with Rawlings having some great anecdotes about Alien, Blade Runner and Alien 3.

Afterwards I met Jon (the manager at the DOY) for a beer and we caught up and he made me very jealous about his trip to Paris to visit lots of cinemas.

Thanks to Jon and Felicity and all the staff at The Duke Of York's for a great screening and great cinema. Oh and I must plug Flick's Flicks on the Picturehouse website where you can see Felicity talk about some of the upcoming movies at our Picturehouse sites (

1 comment:

  1. My husband saw it when it came out originally and he said it scared the hell out of him. At the end he realized he had been white knuckle gripping the armrests and his hands were aching. I've only seen it on DVD... I imagine it is incredible on the big screen.