Monday, August 20, 2012

'MGM Terror in the Tunnels' at the Old Vic Tunnels, 17th & 18th August 2012

It's midnight in the big city.  The heat is stifling, the air muggy as you make the turn down  Leake Steet and into the underground tunnels underneath Waterloo station.  Graffiti of all kinds adorns every wall you see.  You turn down a side tunnel into pitch darkness, a corridor illuminated only by a row of candles on the floor guiding you through.  The walls,  are covered in flowing, paganistic winding spirals.  You enter a huge, underground room full of sofas and chairs, with a cinema screen at the front.  The only other sounds are the deep booms as trains thunder overhead.

What I'm trying to say here is that MGM HD picked a pretty damn good place to have their 'Terror in the Tunnels' weekend.  It's a promotional 'celebration' of their digital movie channel being decrypted for this weekend, but that's not really important.  What is important is that whoever's come up with this has picked out four smart and genuinely chilling films to watch.  The programme was 'Carrie' (1976), 'Misery' (1990), 'Silence of the Lambs' (1991) and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956).  All films universally acknowledged as occupying the very highest pantheon in horror.  I'm pretty familiar with all four, but went to see 'Carrie' on the Friday and 'Silence of the Lambs on the Saturday'.

As I've said, this is a very nice environment to watch films in, there's complimentary popcorn, a bar and sofas to relax on.  The slightly 'off' environment only accentuates the creepiness and tension in the films.  Fittingly for a promotional event for a HD movie channel, the picture is amazing.  The only slight problem is with the sound.  Watching in a film in a large, brick sealed tunnel is fantastic in terms of atmosphere, but not so much in terms of acoustics.  There is a quite a bit of echo and distortion at the lower frequencies, but then I know both the films I saw well enough to know what the characters were talking about.  The noise of the trains rumbling away overhead is also slightly intrusive, but the room gently vibrating and the deep low bass contributes to the sense of things 'about to go wrong' in the films.  It seemed particularly apropos in Carrie, and the trains seemed to time themselves after a while to coincide with her episodes of telekinesis.

Review of 'Carrie' here.

Review of 'Silence of the Lambs' here:

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