A chat with Lighthouse Cinema’s Cinema Book Club and Grindhouse Dublin’s organisers

When the Lighthouse cinema reopened in 2012 Charlene Lydon started working as their programmer after a long-time love of film.

“We had a lot of conversations about what we wanted the lighthouse to be and how it could possibly be different to other cinemas.  I knew that Dublin and myself really liked old movies to bring back for people to experience on the big screen.

“We have a bar here and it’s like get people to come in on their Friday or Saturday night, and have a couple of beers with their mates and watch a fun film on the big screen.

“We teamed up with the guys at Hollywood Babylon and Grindhouse, we have the cinema book club, and we do seasons maybe 4 of 5 times a year, retrospective seasons.”

Conor Flynn works in marketing but set up Grindhouse Dublin with others as a passion project.

“Basically what we decided to do was just get old classics, maybe one You haven’t seen in a long time like John Barpenter’s Escape From New York and that film had not been shown in an Irish cinema for 30 odd years;

“It was disappointing that we would never get to see these kinds of things on the big screen. So I coupled together a few other friends and we formed Grindhouse Dublin.”

Charlene was sure to express her appreciation of the success of the unconventional material being screened,

“You guys show some really seriously random stuff and You always get people out for it – it’s not like You’ve never played for an empty screen, there’s always like 50,60,70, 200 people at Your screenings.

“What’s really great is that you can take a chance, because they trust you; I think that’s very important because these films do miss their chance and the only way for people to find them again is if someone shows it to them.”

Conor has a list as long as his arm to show.

“There are plenty of films that we’re looking to show that I know I’ve never seen on the big screen but I’ve seen countless amounts of times on video, dvd, blu-ray, tv; but I’d love to see them on the big screen.”

Charlene is midway through the David Lynch season.

“We had a screening of Dune for our Cinema Book Club which sold out which I was so happy with, it’s great when the first film in the season sells out.”

While they didn’t get the rights to the shorts they acquired all of his feature films – most on 35mm.

“This is a season I’ve wanted to do since we’ve opened. I know he’s not the most obscure filmmaker, but he’s a filmmaker who I think consistently delivers cinema that is completely uncompromised.

“Every single frame of a David Lynch film looks and sounds unique and you could take a still from any David Lynch film and say “obviously that’s a David Lynch film”, or like a snippet of sound.”

The Cinema Book Club is Charlene’s baby, and a great way to interact with other film buffs.

“It’s not really a club – You don’t have to join a club or anything; we do them on the last Monday of every month we pick a book every month, You read the book, and then go to the screening of the adaptation of that book. We go out to the bar for however long the conversation lasts and just chat through the adaptation.”

Not only that, but Chapters do a 10% discount on the selected books and the Lighthouse do a 10% discount on the films too.

A big movie milestone is coming up, Halloween – What has Charlene got in store?

“Well this month is Halloween so we’re doing interview with a vampire, which is one we’ve wanted to do for ages and we think it’s going to be fun and we have it on 35mm.

“After that we’re doing V for Vendetta which is strange for us because it’s a graphic novel. We felt with the upcoming American elections that all hell is gonna break loose so we thought we’d go with a topical political one. We’re gonna start a revolution – that’s our plan.”

Grindhouse Dublin, not to fall behind, have equally tempting offerings for Halloween.

“We are doing a 40th anniversary screening of Stephen king’s Carrie. It’s a no brainer – a 40th anniversary of a screen classic and I’d highly recommend it to people who haven’t seen it.”

And beyond that?

“Action action action! It seems to be our bread and butter. We’re doing a 30th anniversary screening of Rocky IV in 35mm! We’ve screened over half a dozen Stallone films at this point. Sly’s still got it!”

Charlene agrees, as this statement proves.

“If Grindhouse has taught me anything it’s that there is a fecking giant audience for 80s action films,”

Conor throws out an example.

“One of the ones that really surprised me was a screening we did for Jean Claude Van Damme’s Bloodsport.

“I remember loving that as a kid…around about 8 years of age which was way too young to be watching it!”

I then recounted a tale my brothers told me of our auntie showing them Nightmare on Elms Street when they were 7 or 8 – and the two nod – they had similar experiences.

“Around about 1986, 87, I went to a screening of the Aliens in my own single screen cinema in Donegal. I shouldn’t have been allowed to go see it but I was taken along. My brother had taken me along. At that point all I had been introduced to have been films from the 1950s.

“I was expecting these sort of hovering UFOs, *makes whirring noises*, but no, I got this full intensity of Aliens.

“I could not watch it. All I could hear was the sound of bullets and screaming and I covered my eyes and I told myself “please let this be over”.”

Charlene doesn’t want to denounce the practice though.

“I don’t know if I should say this but there’s something to be said for watching these films too Young because you carry it with you in a very good way! I mean obviously you can’t sit your kids in front of videonastys every day, but I always loved the macabre.”

“There was a documentary about the Bermuda triangle, I was all over it. I loved anything about JFK being murdered, I was reading books about serial killers….I am not a serial killer!”

We both laughed with Charlene whilst scanning the room for emergency exits.

“I thought instantly when watching stranger things, if I was 10 years old and watching this I would be all over it. I think that kids aren’t exposed to challenging material sometimes when they’re a bit too Young, but it’s good for them, it gives them a thick skin!

“Otherwise they don’t know how to deal with trauma, and then when real trauma comes along they don’t know what to do.”

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