One Week Until Elstree 1976

Next Saturday, Leamington Spa will be getting distinctly star wars-ey – with the first ‘Spa Wars’ event during the day, followed by our screening of ace doc, Elstree 1976, in the evening.

Both events take place at the big, gothic All Saints church located at the bottom of the parade.

Doors for the screening are at 7.30pm and the film action starts at 8.00pm, Following the screening there will be a Q&A featuring producer Hank Starrs and cast member of Elstree 1976 (and coincidentally Star Wars), John Chapman, all conducted by Leamington’s very own Nic Pillai.

Tickets are £10 from:

If you are a poor tax-dodging student however, it is just £5!:

Some examples of the critical praise for this cool film, which has a very respectable 80% on Rotten Tomatoes:

“Elstree 1976 is a must-see for Star Wars fanatics, and coming shortly after the much-hyped franchise adrenaline shot that is The Force Awakens, it’s almost shocking to hear firsthand accounts of the first film’s way-under-the-radar status.”

“In telling a small story of bit players, the director, Jon Spira, captures a more universal picture of the droplets of fame created by a pop-culture tidal wave.”

“A deadpan documentary with notes of wistful irony …”

elstree web flyer square.jpg


ELSTREE 1976 gains Furry Death From Outer Space & £5 Student tickets

An exciting addition to the programme for our screening of Elstree 1976 is professor Daniel Winchester’s short, but disturbingly formed, new documentary ‘Furry Death From Outer Space’.

This devastating expose will be playing before the main feature at 8.00pm. This will be the only live public screening of this important film, so if you are a fan of the professor’s previous work (The Tidings Of Restless Nell and They Walk Amongst Us), you will not want to miss this event.

Tickets are available in advance or on the door for £10, or just £5 for Students/NUS members.



The main feature is of course the marvellous documentary Elstree 1976 as well as a Q&A conducted by Nic Pillai in conversation with producer Hank Starrs and Star Wars cast member Jon Chapman.

Remote Control Film Night 14

Leamington Underground Cinema presents another free online film night that you can enjoy from absolutely everywhere, except perhaps some of those scary countries with mad dictators like North Korea and America.

On the evening of Thursday 19th October we will be curating a selection of the finest, strangest and most entertaining short film entertainment from around the internet. There may also be a creative challenge or two to get invoved in…

The fun will begin at 7.30pm GMT, please ensure you’ve been to the toilet before we start and remain at least 5% above horizontal throughout – it is for your own safety.

You can join in in on the Leamington Underground Cinema Facebook page or by following our twitter feed at

RCFN 14 Flyer.jpg

The Ten Greatest Failures in Adapting Movies into Video Games

NOTE: This article first appeared in issue 3 of LUC’s randomly periodical journal of film, Underclass.

The relationship between video games and movies has never been a particularly happy one. For every successful adaptation of a beloved film into pixel form, there are dozens of absolutely wretched examples. Some fail so profoundly, that even the most ardent gamers are probably not aware that they ever existed. Here are the ten most appalling efforts that our crack team of researchers could find…

One – Watership Down (1979)
watership downCreated by a little known arcade machine company, Happy Player Inc., this simple vector game seemed only tangentially connected to the novel and movie of the same name. The player was tasked with using a rollerball controller to aim and shoot at crowds of rabbits that moved across the screen at increasing speed.

As no legal rights rights had been sought or secured to licence the Watership Down name, the developers quickly found themselves on the wrong end of all manner of legal action. The game was hastily re-badged and the few units that found their way to the US were adorned with the title ‘Heroic Pest Saga’.

Two – Gandhi (1982)
atari gandhi 800pxMany know about the infamous failure of the ET Atari game that ended up with thousands of copies buried in the desert. Less well known is the other Atari project based on a 1982 blockbuster film. After a catastrophic press preview ‘Gandhi’ was never released and never mentioned again.

The few scraps of information that leaked out detailed two different levels, firstly a scene set on a beach where the player has to collect piles of salt while avoiding British soldiers. Then secondly, a level which involved running along the top of a train, jumping over bridges. One of the journalists that actually experienced the game remarked many years later that it was ‘Thematically troubling, even by 1982 standards’.

Three – Kramer vs Kramer (1984)
kramer vs kramer box art.pngAs Atari went through all manner of commercial troubles, one division hit upon the idea of creating interactive entertainment for a more mature and sophisticated audience. To this end, they licensed a whole bunch of classic novels and serious, oscar-winning movies to somehow be developed into games, including a console version of Robert Benton’s 1979 weepy divorce drama.

Perhaps inevitably, what seemed like a clever marketing gambit floundered when the development arm of Atari struggled to come up with a game that would stay true to the source material and appeal to grown up gamers. The project was quickly cancelled and resources channelled towards the more commercially secure Pitfall 2.

All that remains in the public domain is the incredibly incongruous draft box art.

Four – F For Fake (1985)
The uk home computer explosion of the 80’s provided fertile ground for developers to experiment with new types of games and interactive experiences. None more so than Stafford based Singular Systems whose output for the ZX Spectrum consistently tested the boundaries of what could be considered a ‘game’. Following the surprise success of their highly politicised platform game satire ‘Manically Depressed Miner’, SS ploughed the profits into a highly ambitious multi-media project based on Orson Welles’ 1974 tricksy documentary.

f for fake loading screen.jpg

Due to packaging and pricing issues, retailers refused to stock the game, which came on three individual cassettes and also included a VCR tape which included specially shot footage and voice recordings of Welles designed to be played on a separate screen as part of the overall experience.

Costing an unprecedented £25 and requiring two TV’s and an addition VCR player – the game sold in miniscule numbers. Reviews reported that it took the form of a number of individual games themed around art forgery and a number of Welles unmade film projects. Each level had to be loaded individually and played through according to exacting timings to fit in with the VCR elements. Your Sinclair described it as ‘unplayable and confusing’, while Crash magazine refused to review it on the basis that they didn’t ‘consider it to be a game in any way at all’.

Five – Wings Of The Apache (1990)
cage wings of the apache.jpgA vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up arcade machine to tie in with the release of the Nicolas Cage helicopter movie. Legendary for the huge ‘sit-in’ cabinet with working plastic rotor blades on top and heavy use of Cage’s digitised image and voice, most notably yelling “I AM THE GREATEST”, at the completion of each level. Unfortunately, the failure of the film to perform at the box office led to few orders. Coupled with the high cost of manufacture, only a few units ever reached the arcades and none are currently known to be in working order.

Six – Boxing Helena (1993)
FlyFire studios of California had spent 6 months building a state of the art (by early 1990s standards) digital model of Kim Basinger as the basis of their innovative adaptation of Jennifer Lynch’s debut feature.

The game was based around a complex conversation based mechanic in which the player (as Helena) tried to explore the tortured psyche of the surgeon Nick Cavanaugh in order to stop him cutting more bits off you.

Groundbreaking for both its approach and the use of a female protagonist, the game suffered a similar fate to the movie when Basinger controversially left the project. While the producers of the film eventually recouped millions from Basinger in court, the game developers couldn’t afford any type of litigation. Desperate to recoup their extensive development costs without too much further expense FlyFire quickly knocked up a bog-standard platform game in which Helena has to collect golden coins while dodging flying surgical equipment. Somehow it managed to get worse reviews than the film. It sold 84 copies.

Seven – Falling Down (1994)
Falling DownAlthough you can question of taste of turning the ‘Michael Douglas going postal’ movie into a light-gun shooting game – this title was actually well received by the gaming press at the time. Reviewers praised the intensity of the experience and noted that the game left the player questioning their morals and actions.

The game was developed exclusively for the 3DO console, to help show off its (at the time) ground-breaking full motion video capabilities and featured extra footage shot by Joel Schumacher. The hugely expensive console tanked in the hugely competitive mid-90s game market and was discontinued in 1995. Very few people ever got to play the game and the costs of porting it to the forthcoming Sony Playstation were deemed prohibitive. Rumour has it that Michael Douglas maintains a working 3DO and wheels the game out to entertain guests at at parties.

Eight – Pearl Harbor (2001)
California’s PinPoint Games were confident of a delivering a major hit with their adaptation of the infamous film about the day of infamy. They’d tied up a deal for the game rights and secured use of the prototype Unreal Engine v2 to help them build a spectacular 3D blockbuster war game.
During early design discussions, it transpired that although they had a licence for the film, they didn’t have the rights to use the likenesses, character names, voices or performances of any of the main cast characters – with the exception of Kate Beckinsale’s Nurse Johnson.

A number of proposals and prototypes were put together before the project was eventually cancelled and the costs written off. The most intriguing of which was what can only be described a first person ‘inject ‘em up’ in which you, as Nurse Johnson have to run around a hospital ward injecting wounded soldiers with the right medicine.

Which, to be honest, would probably have been better than the film.

Nine – Battle Royale 2 (2003)
Small time Tokyo based developers Joy Simulation couldn’t believe their luck when Nintendo snagged their prototype flower-themed strategy title Petal Rivals, to be developed as a high profile Gameboy Advance title.

Their excitement was short-lived when after the contracts were signed they were told that their game had to be re-skinned into an adaptation of the violently militaristic sequel to Battle Royale.

The graphics department who had spent months working on making cute anthropomorphic flowers that swayed gently in the breeze, had to suddenly switch them out for school age terrorists with explosive death animations. The whole thing was a rush job and completely failed in the market due to the underperformance of the film and the subject matter being a terrible fit with Nintendo’s Mario loving fanbase.

Ten – The Raid (2011)
The Uk distributors commissioned Hoxton ‘boutique development house’ BooomK@ M3dia to create a web based game to promote the theatrical release of this martial arts adventure. They were less than impressed when with less than 2 weeks to go, BooomK@ presented them with an old school, text adventure game.

A source revealed:

“They just sat there in the presentation looking smug and pleased with themselves. They said it was ironic and that we didn’t understand new media strategy. They stopped smiling pretty fucking quickly when I said we weren’t paying them”

Although the game was swiftly canned and not used, it was later leaked onto an interactive fiction web site, where it was derided on the community forum as ‘repetitive’ and ‘not as clever as it thinks’.

THE RAID Adventure Game.jpg

Elstree 1976 – Spa Wars Screening

ELSTREE 1976 POSTER 1 1000pxLeamington Underground Cinema is delighted to present a screening of ace documentary Elstree 1976 following the Spa Wars event on Saturday 2nd December.
This screening will take place in the epic and gothic All Saints Church aka that big building at the bottom of The Parade opposite Viallis.
After the film there will be a Q&A with producer Hank Starrs (who with director Jon Spira is now working on sequel Elstree 1979 about The Empire Strikes Back) and some Star Wars cast members.
Tickets are £10 and will be on sale from Friday 9th June. ,there will be a licensed bar to keep you fully refreshed, doors open at 7.30pm and the age limit is 12.
For more info on the whole day of Spa Wars events please check out the facebook event page:
“In 1976, during the hottest summer on record, Star Wars was shot in suburban North London. Nobody involved had any idea how big the film would become, many couldn’t even remember the title.
Yet for the bit-part actors and extras, their faces hidden in masks and helmets, this seemingly insignificant job would go on to colour their lives even four decades later.
ELSTREE 1976 is a portrait of a cross-section of these people; from the man inside the most iconic villain in film history to the guy whose character was completely cut from the final film. It tells the stories of their lives and explores the eccentric community they have formed, traveling the world, signing autographs for fans.”

LUC Briefing 011: War

“This is the problem with civilians wanting to go to war. Once you’ve been there, once you’ve seen it, you never want to go again unless you absolutely fucking have to. It’s like France.”

-General Miller
In The Loop

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: Art

i. Just War

An LUC favourite, this old soviet anti-war film – cut to Just War from the album Dark Night Of The Soul. Brilliantly renders the pointlessness of nuclear conflict in three minutes and 45 stylish seconds.

ii. How Docklands Became Vietnam For Full Metal Jacket

From the venerable Barry Norman on Film ‘87:

“It’s a derelict old gasworks in Beckton, not Vietman exactly but the next best thing for a movie director who doesn’t like to fly”

iii. The Main Casualty of The Thin Red Line Was Adrien Brody

Enjoy a bunch of actors chuckling about how Brody thought he was the lead in Terence Malick’s Pacific war epic, right up until the premiere of the film – that he was mostly cut out of.

iv. The Messy Death Of Hungry Joe

In 1970, a world before CGI, just how do you convincingly show a man being bisected by a low flying aircraft?

“The popular scene of Hungry Joe being cut in two by the airplane and falling into the water was done in two steps. (1) A plane runs into a breakaway dummy that was rigged to spray blood. After a cutaway, the second shot shows an actor or stuntman in front of the sky, holding a mirror in front of him angled to reflect more sky to match what is in back of him, making the top part of his body disappear. He then falls backward into the water making the trick become visible to the camera.”

v. All the people using The Battle Of Algiers as a training aid are probably missing the point

From an article on the Carnegie Council website:

“The Battle of Algiers was based on the memoirs of Saadi Yacef, one of the leaders of the FLN, who also starred in the film as a character modeled off his real-life role in the opposition movement. The film was banned in France for five years after its release.

Yet others hailed The Battle of Algiers, not only as a work of art, but as a model for both insurgency and counterinsurgency tactics, including the use of torture. The film has been used to train members of the Black Panthers and Argentine intelligence units. It has been speculated that Palestinian terror groups and al Qaeda may also use Pontecorvo’s film as a guide.

In 2003, The Battle of Algiers was screened at the Pentagon in order to offer some insight into the challenges surrounding the U.S. occupation of Iraq.”


vi. Did Bill Clinton pull a ‘Wag The Dog’?

From an article via CNN:

“In the movie, the president’s handlers invent a war to distract public attention from his sexual transgressions. In real life, was the Clinton administration doing something similar?

Cynical in the extreme, that was a question that some residents of the New York region could not avoid asking themselves Thursday. And it seemed to reflect not only the bizarre parallels between fiction and fact, but also the profound distrust that some Americans have begun to harbor toward a president who acknowledged misleading the public.”


vii. The Fallen Of World War 2

Sobering and stunning use of data and animation to illustrate the horror of the mind melting horror of the second world war.

viii. Rik Mayall’s SAS try to prevent World War 3

In the marvellously unsubtle Whoops Apocalypse, the world is heading towards nuclear combat due to an escalating conflict over a disputed British territory in central America (wonder where they got that idea?).

For reasons that are too confusing to go into, the SAS must rescue a british princess from Madam Tussauds – cue lots of mindless violence and swearing. Key Quote:

“No you can’t bring the fucking tiger, Donald. It’s more trouble than it’s worth”

LUC Briefing 010: Cities

“As a remedy to life in society I would suggest the big city. Nowadays, it is the only desert within our means.”
– Albert Camus

“I don’t know what London’s coming to — the higher the buildings the lower the morals.”
– Noel Coward

“But cities aren’t like people; they live on and on, even though their reason for being where they are has gone downriver and out to sea.”
-John Updike

The next LUC Briefing will be on the subject of: War

i. The Lost City Of Demille

From the Independent:

‘When the shoot was complete, rather than dismantle and remove the set, the director ordered it to be knocked down, buried and abandoned to the elements. Mr Cardozo showed Mr Brosnan a passage from DeMille’s posthumously published autobiography: “If, 1,000 years from now, archaeologists happen to dig beneath the sands of Guadalupe, I hope they will not rush into print with the amazing news that Egyptian civilisation … extended all the way to the Pacific coast of North America.”’


ii. Shanghai tower climb

If you are slightly nervy about heights and risky behaviour then you might want to give this extreme urban exploration video filmed in and above the chinese mega city a swerve – or use it as some kind of exposure therapy. Don’t try this at home (if you live on a crane half a mile in the air).

iii. Babeldom

“The city will soon be built faster than a man can travel”

iv. Metropolis II

Metropolis II is a kinetic sculpture by Chris Burden – it took four years to build. When it was finished the manager of the local Toys R Us cried bitter, bitter tears.

v. Neo Tokyo

From the Akira Wiki:

“Neo-Tokyo is situated on an enormous, man-made island in Tokyo Bay. The city was built sometime after the end of the Third World War, and is described as a booming, industrial city with the atmosphere of a collapsing one.

As of 2019, the population is 21,451,800 and the total area of the city is 410.32 km2. This would make Neo-Tokyo the most densely-populated city in the world after the original city. Neo-Tokyo is situated right next to the ruins of old Tokyo, which seems mostly derelict.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 14.14.06.png


vi. 20 Great Films Where One Of The Main Characters Is A City

From the Taste Of Cinema web site:

“The films listed rely on the narrative space and its geographical and sociological specifications. The plots of these films are formed by numerous references to the spatial and temporal phase in which the story is taking place.”


vii. Wadjda – the film that had to be directed via walkie talkie

From a BFI article listing ten great films about Women and The City:

“Wadjda is set in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia – a city where women are not permitted to walk un-chaperoned or uncovered in the streets. These restrictions meant that the film’s director, Haifaa Al-Mansour, had to resort to instructing her cast and crew via walkie-talkie, from inside a van. All 10-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) wants is a bicycle; getting one is a race against time, as she won’t be able to ride it when she grows into a woman.

Wadjda is one of the first feature films ever to be shot in Saudi Arabia, and it’s also the first film ever to be made by a Saudi woman. The film – both the conditions of its making and its story – demonstrates the reality that cities aren’t always open to everyone, but that this situation might one day change.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 14.36.04.png


viii. Vancouver never plays itself

Vancouver can double for just about anywhere as demonstrated by this excellent short film from Every Frame A Painting:

“One of the best ways to disguise Vancouver is to film at night in shallow focus. This is to avoid pulling a ‘Rumble in The Bronx’ where they pointed the camera north and you could clearly see the mountains”