LUC Briefing 003: Games

Welcome to the third Leamington Underground Cinema briefing, this time our team of crack researchers (or should that be crack team of researchers?) bring you a bundle of information on the historically difficult intersection between the seemingly connected worlds of cinema and games.

Thanks to a new dietary supplement that has been successfully tested on the research team, from now on these briefings will be a weekly affair, appearing every Friday.

The next instalment will be on the shady, whispered subject of Conspiracy.

i. Nuke ‘Em

Satire it may have been, but in the late 80s everyone wanted the future to arrive quickly so we could play this apocalyptic family board game of nuclear paranoia rather than Monopoly.

Unfortunately, the actual Robocop board game that came out was a load of rubbish.

ii. The Most Dangerous Game

As the titular 1924 short story warns, hunting man is the most dangerous game. This is a trope that has been recycled repeatedly by the movies in various forms ever since. Notable examples include 1945’s A Game Of Death and John Woo’s Hard Target starring Jean Claude Van Damme and a mullet that was cited as a war crime by the UN security council.

The mad, bloodthirsty pinnacle of the genre is probably the 1994 version Surviving The Game, starring Ice-T, Rutger Hauer and the astonishing Gary Busey, who literally acts himself out of breath in this unhinged monologue…

iii. Choose Your Own Film Adventure

The idea of interactive cinema, where the audience determine the turns of the plot and eventual outcome, has been around for a while. An infamous early example was Mr Sardonicus, where the film was stopped and the audience voted on whether the villain should be executed at the end. Legend has it that no audience ever voted to spare the life of the hapless Sardonicus – which was helpful – because legend also has it that the alternative ending was never actually filmed.

Experiments in this sort of thing have never gone particularly well, or caught on to any great extent, probably because as Roger Ebert pointed out, movies are a collective experience, while games are more solitary and insular. Still this hasn’t stopped the idea from hanging around. Reports exist that the old line of Choose Your Own Adventure books have been licensed for adaptation, while Steven Soderburgh’s next film Mosaic will have some form of interactivity/multiple paths driven by a mobile phone application.

Where interactivity is working to a degree is in the world of YouTube, where all sorts of clever linked films can be found As is usual on the internet a lot of them involve zombies but others involve more meaningful stuff, such as the self explanatory Interactive Hot Tub Girl:

iv. Video Game to Movies // Movies to Video Games

It is fair to say that despite years of trying, no-one has made a decent film based on a video game franchise or property. When the laughable Mortal Kombat is held up as one of the better examples, you know that something is wrong. However, in an industry that is generally ruthless on ditching poorly performing ideas, Hollywood can’t stop banging its head against this particular wall. According to this article, there are no less than 56 video game properties currently being adapted into films – I haven’t checked but this may well be one of the signs of the apocalypse.

Going in the other direction, despite a lot of rubbish, rushed, blatant cash-in examples, there are actually some quite good video game adaptations based on movies. In 2014 LUC ran a contest for people to make game adaptations as part of our festival, the art department came up with this surprisingly gory take on Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, which you can play online by clicking the image below.


v. Video Game documentaries are surprisingly good

In contrast to the appalling narrative features that have sprung from the video game well, there are loads of really rather good documentaries about the creation and playing of games out there. LUC particularly recommends checking out King Of Kong, Ecstasy Of Order and Man vs Snake. Although you may end up having nightmares about some of the people featured in them.

vi. The Shining Board Game You Can Download for free

Visit this site to download a bundle of .pdf files and then warm up your printer for some table-based mad axe-brandishing fun.


vii. The Top Five Fictional Cinematic Sports

Number 5: The Transcontinental Road Race

Number 4: BASEketball

Number 3: Whack Bat

Number 2: Rollerball

Number 1: Skeet Surfing

viii. Tom Hanks Was In a Film About How Dungeons And Dragons Is Evil

Mazes and Monsters reflects the strange moment in pop culture when polite society viewed role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons as a corruptive influence on younger minds. Many thought that immersing yourself in the fantasy fiction of an RPG could lead to flirtations with Satanism, occult worship — and, in turn, criminal behaviour.”

Screen Shot 2017-02-23 at 16.07.13.png

(article on Mashable:

LUC’s 18 Most Anticipated Films of 2017

Now that ten percent of 2017 is out of the way, it seemed as good a time as any to fire up our valve-driven, cold-war era artificial intelligence driven Anticipation-ometer, so that it can tell us which future cinematic releases we should be most excited about. Pausing only to feed in few parameters to ensure that all sequels, re-makes and re-boots were ignored, we donned our hazmat suits, engaged the cooling rods and switched the power on. After several minutes of buzzing noise, flying sparks and minor radiation poisoning, a stack of glowing metal discs were ejected,  each etched with a burst of binary data. When decoded and translated from Russian, the information formed the list following below…

One: Catfight

I guess we’re not going to be short of satires about the Unite States in the next few years. This one apparently skewers the nature of American society through the medium of an ongoing conflict between two women who really want to destroy each other and have an ongoing series of punch ups – sort of like Ridley Scott’s The Duellists. A bit.


Two: Colossal

Anne Hathaway is an alcoholic who is somehow controlling a giant monster that is causing Godzilla style chaos in Korea.


Three: The Modern Ocean

A new film from the enigmatic Shane Carruth, who made Primer and Upstream Color. Not much info yet, but let’s be honest, it is bound to be brilliant. This meagre description and an epic cast list is all we have so far:

“The storyline revolves around vengeance and the fierce competition for valuable shipping routes and priceless materials that converge in a spectacular battle on the rolling decks of behemoth cargo ships.”

Four: Prevenge

Alice Lowe’s film about a pregnant woman whose unborn child seems to encourage her to go on some sort of killing spree. Out very soon and apparently very good indeed.


Five: The Masterpiece

Franco’s film about the making of The Room, features a contractually unavoidable cameo by Tommy Wiseau. I bet that day of filming was fun, in a suicidal sort of way.

Six: Bitch

Could be a bit dark:

Bitch follows a trapped housewife and mother’s descent into insanity. Ignored by her philandering executive husband Bill, Jill finally breaks down, assuming a vicious canine persona and living down in the family’s basement, on all fours.” – Allegedly based on a real life case.

Seven: I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore

Made by Macon Blair who was in Blue Ruin and Green Room, this seems to have a similar theme of unfortunately escalating violent drama, but maybe with a slightly more comedic thread running through it. Frodo looks especially mad.


Eight: You Were Never Really Here

Not much info yet, but it is based on a rather good short story by Jonathan Ames about an ex military type investigator sent to rescue a girl from a cult. Joaquin Phoenix is in it, so hopefully it will be like a good version of Inherent Vice.

Nine: KUSO

Has caused walkouts and controversy, so instantly interesting but possibly very, very hard work. If you want to delve into the nastiness, there is an article on Verge about how this is the grossest film ever made.


Ten: Get Out

Tea Leaf from Psychoville goes for what looks like a racially awkward Meet The Parents weekend, which turns into some kind of escalating, racist-horror nightmare. When they were making it, I’m sure it seemed like a far fetched satire – by the time it comes out, it may seem more like a documentary.


Eleven: Bushwick

The southern states of the US decide to secede from the union and decide to invade New York to make their point. All manner of hilarity ensues. Again, something that started as an outrageous civil war version of Red Dawn, buy now looks like an eerily realistic prediction for the future.


Twelve: Free Fire

Ben Wheatley’s stagey looking shootout in a warehouse, could go either way but has a bunch of cool people involved and a nice line in sweary comedic unpleasantness in the trailer, so probably worth a punt.


Thirteen: The Sisters Brothers

An adaptation of Patrick deWitt’s brilliant book (which itself seemed to be based on an alternate universe Coen Brothers film) – telling the episodic story of two old-west killers and their involvement in an unusual prospecting scheme. The brothers are played by John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix. Which seems about right.

Fourteen: Okja

Hopefully this will get more of an airing than Bong Joon-ho’s previous movie, Snowpiercer, which the Weinstein organisation went to all sorts of lengths to keep away from audiences in the UK. The story concerns a young girl protecting a giant creature from an evil corporation – no more info at the time of writing – bound to be worth checking out though.

Fifteen: The Discovery

Set in a world where the existence of an afterlife has been scientifically proven, everyone is killing themselves to get there. Sounds very similar to the idea of one of the stories from Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted to me. But still, it is an interesting idea and at least has the potential to explore some deeper ideas than the deluge of comic book crap coming out in 2017.


Sixteen: Mute

Duncan Jones’ future-noir flick which is supposed to be set in the same fictional universe as Moon. Definitely seems to have a cyberpunky/Blade Runner thing going on. The plot concerns a bartender searching for his missing girlfriend in a neon soaked futuristic Berlin. I think everybody wants this to be good.

mute main.jpg


Seventeen: The Death Of Stalin

New film from Armando Ianucci of Thick Of It, Veep and In The Loop fame. Some of this was filmed at a London council office which makes this not only an exciting cinematic proposition, but also probably the most interesting thing to happen in UK local government in the last thirty years.

Eighteen: Nobody Speak

Documentary about how the website Gawker was brought to ruined by the legal case bought by Hulk Hogan over the publishing of a sex tape in which he made a starring appearance. The intriguing part is how Hogan’s case was bankrolled by the hyper rich Peter Thiel who had a previous grievance against the site for outing him. The whole thing looks like a test case for the fate of the free press in the US in the face of a bunch of litigious oligarchs. Hopefully there is no actual Hogan on-the-job footage involved.

LUC Briefing 002: Sex

Welcome to the second Leamington Underground Cinema Briefing. This time we are turning our focus to the potentially awkward subject of sex in the cinema – meaning sex as the subject of cinema, not having sex in the cinema – that would be antisocial, unhygienic (especially at the Leamington Vue) and quite probably illegal. Needless to say, some of the subject matter and links in this email are probably NSFW, but if you subscribed to this mailing list with your work address and are reading this when you should be working, then you probably don’t care.

The next briefing in two weeks time will be on the subject of: Games.

i. The Hays Code

From the 1930s to 1966, American Movies had to comply with the laugh-a-minute Hays Code, which governed exactly what could or couldn’t be depicted on screen in order to protect the moral values of the great unwashed. Here is the section dealing with matters of a sexual nature…

The sanctity of the institution of marriage and the home shall be upheld. Pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing.

1. Adultery, sometimes necessary plot material, must not be explicitly treated, or justified, or presented attractively.
2. Scenes of Passion
a. They should not be introduced when not essential to the plot.
b. Excessive and lustful kissing, lustful embraces, suggestive postures and gestures, are not to be shown.
c. In general passion should so be treated that these scenes do not stimulate the lower and baser element.
3. Seduction or Rape
a. They should never be more than suggested, and only when essential for the plot, and even then never shown by explicit method.
b. They are never the proper subject for comedy.
4. Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden.
5. White slavery shall not be treated.
6. Miscegenation (sex relationships between the white and black races) is forbidden.
7. Sex hygiene and venereal diseases are not subjects for motion pictures.
8. Scenes of actual child birth, in fact or in silhouette, are never to be presented.
9. Children’s sex organs are never to be exposed.

ii. Franco: The Unforseen Consequence Of The Cruising Controversy


William Friedkin’s Cruising caused all sorts of bother in 1980. The tale of undercover cop Al Pacino becoming enmeshed in the S&M gay scene while hunting a serial killer was, to put it mildly, considered insensitive to the gay community:

“The mounting negative publicity prior to Cruising’s release forced Friedkin to add a text scroll to the beginning of the film, essentially informing the audience that not all gay men wear heavy leather and chains and have anonymous sex in Central Park.”
(from an article evaluating the film at:

Apparently around 40 minutes of (partially non-simulated) gay sex action was cut from the film to get it past the censors at an ‘R’ rating. The legend of this lost footage eventually led to James Franco’s dramatic reconstruction/artistic meditation Interior Leather Bar, which to put it mildly was considered rubbish by the film viewing community:

“Thus do we arrive at an even more annoying question: what does it mean that James Franco is playing with the fact that we know that he knows that we want to know whether or not he sucks dick?”

iii. A Handy Sex In The Movies Infographic

Quickly and easily trace the history of crotch based action on the silver screen with this neat and succinct graphical summary on Fandor.

iv. Cleanflix – The Weird Tale Of Mormon Edited Movies

LUC recommends that you check out the excellent documentary Cleanflix, the story of how an industry sprang up around the idea of editing mainstream movies to make them suitable viewing for Mormon families.

Often editing out anything vaguely sexy, but leaving in more violent scenes, this wildly successful enterprise was effectively shutdown by Hollywood lawsuits after a while.

In a genuinely ironic footnote, one of the figures behind the movement was then convicted of child sex offences and turned out to be using his business as a front for some kind of nascent porn empire.

v. Lesbians React To Sex Scenes in Blue Is The Warmest Colour

“I mean, in lesbian sex there’s a whole lot more crying”

(Video by Yeni Sleidi)

vi. Gilbert Gottfried reading 50 shades of Grey

As it seems the films based on the insanely successful ‘mummy-porn’ Fifty Shades novels are having all the erotic content heavily toned down (the next one is rumoured to have a ’15’ certificate in the UK) – here is a fully unedited blast of the sensual tones of comedian Gilbert Gottfried wrapping his tongue around some of the racier bits from the book…

(Video by Collegehumor)

vii. “The Thrill Of The Shunt”

There are many films that have (purposefully, or accidentally) depicted sexuality in a manner that could never be described as erotic or arousing, even to a particularly hormonal teenage boy. Films like Salo, Last Tango In Paris, Antichrist and Howard The Duck are all good examples of how cinema can use sex to disturb and repel.

However, for our money, the ultimate in movie turn offs is the bizarre orgiastic ritual at the end of Brian Yuzna’s gore strewn, the-rich-are-literally-eating-the-poor, satire Society. You can read all about it here. Consider yourself warned

(Article from

viii. A CGI Shag With Shia Lebeouf

“We shot the actors pretending to have sex and then had the body doubles, who really did have sex, and in post we will digital-impose the two,” Vesth explained. “So above the waist it will be the star and the below the waist it will be the doubles.”

Read more at:

LUC Briefing 001: Robots

Welcome to the first Leamington Underground Cinema Briefing – a new bulletin that will be emerging every two weeks from LUC’s cold war era subterranean lair. Each edition will provide important, possibly life-saving, information on a particular subject or theme through the murky lens of films, cinema and LUC. This time we are looking at the clanking, oil-ridden world of robots…

i. The First Robot In Cinema History

houdiniTry not to have nightmares about the jarring mechanical golem that featured in The Master Mystery, a silent film starring Houdini. Apparently it was referred to as an ‘automaton’ because no-one had taken the time to invent the word ‘Robot’ yet. A likely story.

You can read plenty more about this anxiety inducing vision and see it in action over at Boing Boing

ii. The Robot Cameras Of Automavision

“One of the main reasons for using Automavision was to ensure the actors couldn’t use any of their usual tricks. Thanks to the randomised framing and audio settings, they had no idea of how the camera was going to behave and therefore weren’t able to try to show off their best side or steal scenes. (Von Trier’s original idea had been to hide the camera altogether and film through a double mirror)”


iii. Bjork Sex Robots

If you’ve watched Westworld, you might have had a strange reminiscence tugging away at the back of your memory during the title sequence – most likely because you remember this stunning Chris Cunning Video from years ago.


iv. Artificial Intelligence Is Probably Going To Ruin Movies For Us All

Fairly soon we are all going to be replaced by Artificial Intelligence, algorithms and all manner of invisible robots that live inside software code. This could have fantastic implications for your leisure time, but our inevitable journey towards a cinematic singularity has depressing implications for film fans. Hollywood is already using ‘intelligent’ software services such as Epagogix (crazy name, crazy guy), to decide which films it will make (hint: the same ones over and over again).

Perhaps even more soul-sapping is the idea that neural networks and A.I.’s can bang out a decent film script. A recent experiment proved that this is either a) a long way off, or b) we are all going to have to adjust our idea of what makes a film engaging, entertaining, worthwhile and enjoyable – because the result of said experiment, Sunspring, is terrible.


v. Rocky 4 – Post Organic Intimacy

As robots become more human in appearance – perhaps even developing realistic personalities and senses of humour – people are almost certainly going to want to start having sex with them. The cinema of science fiction has often depicted robots that people have wanted to form sexual relationships with despite knowing that they are not real. This bold new facet of human sexuality seems less extreme when the robot in question looks like Sean Young in Blade Runner, or Jude Law in A.I.

One film that really gets into the nuts and bolts of human/robot intimacy is the subversive 1985 movie, Rocky 4. Seemingly an appalling jingoistic pile of crap, Rocky 4 was actually a trojan horse for normalising the seemingly transgressive love between a man and a pile of metal and plastic. In the space of two scenes, the irascible trainer Paulie forms an intimate and profoundly meaningful relationship with a robot that looks like this:


vi. The Butter Robot

Cinema has often dealt with the difficult existential questions around robotics and A.I. Think of the replicants in Blade Runner, HAL in 2001 and that dolphin in Johnny Mnemonic.

Probably the finest and certainly the most succinct exchange on the matter took place in LUC’s favourite animated universe, between Rick Sanchez and his latest creation.

vii. Robot Actors Lost In The Uncanny Valley

Wikipedia says:

“In aesthetics, the uncanny valley is the hypothesis that human replicas that appear almost, but not exactly, like real human beings elicit feelings of eeriness and revulsion among some observers. Valley denotes a dip in the human observer’s affinity for the replica, a relation that otherwise increases with the replica’s human likeness. Examples can be found in robotics, 3D computer animations, and life-like dolls among others.”

Really? This seemed almost flawless:


viii. Movie Robot Recognition Test

Time to prove your film knowledge skills – identify the films that each of these robotic characters appeared in. Fill in your answers on this form and we will select a winner from all those who get them all right to win an exciting prize.


LUC Briefings – beginning Friday 20th January


As you may have noticed, Leamington Underground Cinema has been in cold storage for a few months – we had to put the glorious central committee into cryogenics for a fixed period due to tax issues and a genuine fear of Trump based atomic warfare.

Unfortunately, the Disney company and the British royal family have been buying up all the reserves of liquid nitrogen, so we’ve had no choice but to thaw everyone out and get on with things in the face of the inevitable global meltdown. Happy New Year.

We don’t do new years resolutions here in the bunker, partially because such things are  the  meaningless constructs of a semi-delusional  consumer society, but mostly because living in a subterranean lair means that the bunker staff have no idea whatsoever of the passing of time – most of them still think Palm Pilots are a thing.

Never the less, to mark the start of a new year, we are launching a new bi-weekly bulletin, the LUC Briefing, beginning on Friday the 20th of January. Each briefing will be based on a particular subject and how it is affecting the world of cinema, movies and LUC. The subject of the first briefing will be: Robots.

To  get the new LUC briefing delivered directly to you, sign up for the LUC Mailing List at once – or  if you have already signed up – wait patiently for the next 120 hours.


REMOTE CONTROL FILM NIGHT – Thursday 20th October

Once again LUC’s glorious central committee presents a whole evening of free, on-line, short film entertainment that you can enjoy from anywhere you like and definitely can’t be messed up by the weather (unless your house has its own violent microclimate).

Join us from 7.30pm on Thursday 20th October on our facebook page, or twitter feed, for a cavalcade of audio-visual entertainment and even some competitive action to keep your brain fully stimulated.

All citizens are advised to have a healthy supply of food and drink at hand, keep all exits as clear as possible and stretch all major muscle groups thoroughly. If you’d like to spread the word to your mates, there is a facebook event page you can share around.

The rather swish artwork for this event is as ever by our resident art genius Christine Cuddihy, check out more of her marvellous stuff over at her website.



With the weather forecast for tomorrow evening looking a bit on the apocalyptic side, LUC & Playing The Field have decided that we have to cancel the planned screening of Predator. Unfortunately we just weren’t able to get our giant weather changing laser ready in time. Rather than postpone again all tickets will be fully refunded asap (if you bought them from the drawing board, they will sort you out) – and we will try to get the film on again sometime in the future.

We will be sharing Daniel Winchester’s ‘Furry Death From Outer Space’ on-line just as soon as the ministry of defence calms down and releases the footage.

Forthcoming LUC screenings will all involve a roof. Probably.