So far in London, we’ve gone to the British Film Institute, the Criterion, the Coronet, and now, the Roxy. The British Film Institute was very modern with its architecture, and stadium seating structure most similar to those in the states. The Coronet was also similar to American theaters, except for the balcony seating and the historic architecture that wove itself throughout. The Criterion was very small and inclusive, with floor seating, as well as three upper levels. The front row was about a foot away from the stage; sitting there, I could literally see the spit flying from the actor’s mouths and the sweat dripping from their faces.
The Roxy, however, is different from all of those. The Roxy is quaint, secluded and somewhat grungy; a place only the locals would really know about. Upon entering, we were not even sure if it was open due to the lack of lighting coming from inside. We walked in anyways, and found ourselves in a dark, dimly lit room with a bar to the far left and old red velvet curtains drawn in the back. The walls were painted a deep red, with worn, yet sophisticated furniture. It was quiet. Muffled voices echoed the walls, but other than that nobody really spoke. Only a few people were working the floor, and we were the only people to enter, so all eyes were on us.
Laughter could be heard from the invisible audience behind the curtain. We ended up entering the venue right in the middle of them hosting a double feature horror film event, and since we had come to see the second portion of the showing, we had some time to spare. Between arriving and the beginning of the second film, we were able to consume a bucket of fries, a hamburger, coleslaw, two hard-boiled eggs, four slices of bread and raw salmon…. All free. After talking to the patrons of the club and telling them a little bit of back story on why we were in London, they took pity on us, and literally gave us the food off of their plates. It was so genuine and kind and unexpected, that when the food was in front of us, we were tentative to touch it. The hesitation only lasted a couple seconds because once we tasted the golden fries in our mouths we couldn’t stop grabbing more.
Drawing the curtain back, we then entered a room filled with old couches and tables set up around a central screen. With a somewhat older audience, everyone was sitting comfortably; drink in hand, enjoying classic film entertainment. Before the second movie began, a “quizzer,” took place. Two people stood in front of the crowd holding prizes that related to the film theme – horror. The whole process was very civilized and charming. They asked the group six or seven questions concerning background knowledge of legendry horror films and if you knew the correct answer, you would raise your hand, they would call on you, and if you got it right, the prize was yours.
After the quizzer had ended, the mood was up due to the air of light competition. We sat back in our chairs, the space fell quiet, and Horror Express began. The clinking of glasses and mixing of drinks could be lightly overheard from the background, understandably. They had transformed a bar and club into a theater of sorts, so hearing light commotion in the background was nothing to complain about. As the movie continued on, the cheesy effects and drawn out scenarios were definitely relating more to comedy than horror, but it was the respect given to such legendary cinema, and the understanding that this was reminiscent of an older time that brought together such an eclectic group of people in one arena, something the other theaters have had yet to do.