Each week, we round up the most exciting film events happening in London over the coming week, from pop-ups and one-offs to regular film clubs, outdoor screenings and festivals. Here’s this week’s top five…
1. Film4 Frightfest: ‘The Babadook’
This year’s Film4 Frightfest line-up is bigger than ever, with five full days of new and classic horror movies, discussions, quizzes and celebrity talks. The highlights are too numerous to list here, but one particular standout has to be this disturbing Aussie creeper, which scored a five-star Time Out review. Who brought a children’s book called ‘Mister Babadook’, filled with illustrations of toothy terrors peering around bedroom doors, into a family home? The answer to that is left deliciously vague in this slow-building, expertly unsettling horror film. Actress-turned-director Jennifer Kent is a natural. She favours crisp compositions and unfussy editing, transforming a banal family house into a subtle, shadowy threat. Vue West End, 3 Cranbourn St, WC2H 7AL. 6.30pm, Sat Aug 23. £13.
2. ‘Alien’ thirty-fifth anniversary
Join editor Terry Rawlings (‘Chariots of Fire’, ‘White of the Eye’, ‘Goldeneye’) and Ridley Scott’s longtime co-producer Ivor Powell for a thirty-fifth anniversary screening of the classic space horror. Aboard the commercial spaceship Nostromo, the crew answers a distress signal from a nearby planet. That it’s all so natural – they drink coffee, bitch about overtime – only adds to the suspense. Writer Dan O’Bannon openly admitted, ‘I didn’t steal “Alien” from anybody. I stole it from everybody!’ Horror films have been paying ‘Alien’ the same compliment ever since. Genesis Cinema, 93-95 Mile End Rd, E1 4UJ. 3pm, Sun Aug 24. £20.
3. The 5,000 Fingers of Dr T
This 1953 adventure can barely contain its multiple fascinations within the kids’ movie format, attempting as it does to make explicit the connections between dreams, surrealism and psychoanalysis. Using the child’s fantasy structure of ‘The Wizard of Oz’, it’s the tale of nine-year-old Bart, who resents his piano teacher Terwilliker as an authoritarian madman bent on mesmerising his mother, killing the friendly plumber, imprisoning all other musicians and enslaving 500 little boys at a giant keyboard to rehearse his own masterpiece for eternity. This awesome piece of entertainment really does have something for everyone. Barbican Centre, Silk St, EC2Y 8DS. 4pm, Sat Aug 23. £9.50, £8.50 concs.
4. Prince Take-Over!
Squee! The Minneapolis sex-midget takes over the appropriately named Prince Charles Cinema for an extended evening of leather kecks, high camp and wailing guitars. Okay, so the films themselves aren’t exactly masterpieces. ‘Purple Rain’ is rightly acclaimed as a prime slice of rock wish fulfillment, but Prince’s own directorial debut ‘Under the Cherry Moon’ (co-starring Kristin Scott-Thomas, fact fans) and fantastical ‘Purple Rain’ sequel ‘Graffiti Bridge’ are both pretty ropey. Still, the music’s great, the wine will be flowing and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded freaks, so a good time is guaranteed. Prince Charles Cinema, 7 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. 6.30pm, Sat Aug 23. £17.50, £15 concs.
5. Dreams that Money Can Buy
Another art-movie classic screens in aid of the struggling Horse Hospital. This 1946 film’s artistic credentials couldn’t be more imposing. In addition to the expatriate Surrealists and Dadaists who contributed their writing and design skills to the various episodes, including Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, there’s music by John Cage and Darius Milhaud, among others. The ‘story’ centres on a man with the power to generate dreams, leading inevitably to a number of wild dream sequences. The result is perhaps not quite the sum of its parts, but it’s a fascinating experiment. The Horse Hospital, Colonnade, WC1N 1JD. 7pm, Wed Aug 20. £5.