Three of the Apocalypse

Reptilian aliens, shoegaze and the end of the world. Diet Soda Cineclub’s Teri Williams sets up our upcoming co-screening of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy

Is Gregg Araki the patron saint of the alienated teen? His work, which now spans over three decades, has helmed a wave of new queer cinema that began with radical low budget films like The Living End and is now cutting through the abundant noise of shiny teen TV drama with the excellent Now Apocalypse, a hark to the trilogy that arguably started this whole beautiful mess: the Teen Apocalypse Trilogy. So pucker up, light up, and read on to find out more about how the godfather of rebellious youth framed a generation in neon rainbow colours that remains ever so relevant in this strange, doom-laden landscape we’re living in right now.

Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere were made and released in the mid-90s, when tie-dye and inflatable furniture was in, and Gen Z queer icons Amandla Stenberg, Chloe Grace Moretz and Hunter Schafer were mere twinkles in their parents’ eyes. It’s arguable to say that these three films, and Gregg’s subsequent features like Mysterious Skin and Kaboom! paved the way for a plethora of queer and teen-centric media today. He’s even had a guest director spot on a few episodes of 13 Reasons Why, one of the most talked about teen TV shows of recent times.

The Teen Apocalypse Trilogy was never seen as a critical success. Maybe because most of the film reviewers assessing them at the time were deliberately far removed from the worlds shown on screen – there’s nothing a middle-aged white man hates more than teen disenchantment, disengagement, disaffection. Not to mention all of that ambiguous sexuality, questions of gender identity and complete disregard for populist politics and society. Gregg’s films depict utter doom in the purest sense, where teens find themselves facing alienation and actual aliens, out to pull them free from the crazy world they’re struggling to fit into.

The first film in the trilogy, aptly titled Totally Fucked Up, stars Araki-darling James Duval, who we see throughout a large number of Gregg’s work. His inky black eyes, pouty mouth and Keanu-hair make him an instant pin up in the franchise, but what makes James stand out is his flat, carefree valleyboy accent, often used as narration, particularly in his starring role in Nowhere. He is part of a group of six young gay teenagers who have come together as a family of misfits. Largely filmed with a handheld video camera, the movie has a grainy, homemade quality to it reminiscent to the early work of the great John Waters, and as intimate as the talking head portions of modern reality TV.

The Doom Generation, which is a roadtrip movie, stars Rose McGowan and her iconic Mia Wallace haircut, hurtling through the desolate landscape of nighttime LA with boyfriend Jordan (James Duval) and new arrival X (Jonathon Schaech). Their blossoming triage-ship is wrought with jealousy, confusion, and terrifying encounters throughout the way,

The third film, Nowhere, showcases Gregg’s obsession with alienation in a comically literal sense. Its bisexual hero, again played by James Duval, is on a manic search for the alien race who is taking over his community and friends, stalking him as he navigates his failing relationship with girlfriend Mel and falling for new town arrival Montgomery.

So there you have it. Three films – a portrait movie, a roadtrip movie, and a sci-fi fantasy – each exploring themes of existential doom and teenage heartbreak that, each with their own rad, acidic soundtrack and palette of blindingly neon colours, paved the way for a multitude of queer cinema that celebrates the weird and subversive, an aloof middle finger to the mainstream. And maybe that’s what we need to celebrate right now.

Teri Williams


Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy screens at the CCA Glasgow as part of Scalamara Glasgow on Thursday 26th September, 2019. Buy tickets here.

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel

It’s the best Soviet-era Estonian sci-fi detective story you’ve never seen – The Reptile House on why you should book some time at “Hukkunud Alpinisti” hotell

There was a time when aliens weren’t cult.

Before the greatest show on earth (The X-Files), aliens were a personal invasion of mortal safety. They signified everything wrong with the universe we inhabited and implicated a mortal terror of the unknown we barely perceived as anything other than an “it’s fine, we’ll be fine” sipped through denied lips. As metaphors, sure, as physical entities, no fucking thanks.

Estonian folklore leans a lot into the idea of host-taking and shapeshifting. The Kratt for instance, is a creature borne of hay and tools, brought to life by blood to work for its master. A Sentient used to dig, run chores, exist as a slave. Imitating human life, but being only a homunculus to the will of whoever would deal with the devil to will it into existence. Pitchforks and sinew, trowels and skulls, bread and ladder. A hollow being desperate to work, pretending its existence isn’t an abomination of magic, thirsty for work or else it would turn on its owner.  For some, the Kratt was a helper, turned into a nightmare. Given tasks so dangerous that the owner would actively seek to give it work that would knowingly kill it to save themselves the agony of its hand in death. A bite too much of Satan’s hand.

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (“Hukkunud Alpinisti” hotell, Grigori Kromanov, 1979) leans hard into its native folklore stories of host-taking but gives it a newly found sci-fi bent, mimicking Soviet-era ideas of internal invasion, gender non-conformity and country (if not world) changing ideas of appropriation and accidental exposure to life beyond comprehension.

In the snow-capped high-altitude nowheresville of mountainous Europe, Inspector Glebsky (Uldis Pūcītis) is anonymously called in to investigate a murder pertaining to a mountaineer and his dog. His location is that of a gorgeously nestled wooden hotel on what feels like the crown of earth and its inhabitants. They’re odd, one sentence sideways, unhelpful and too helpful. As labyrinthine as the hotel itself, which is itself questionable in its intent. An oblique, neo-noir Bauhaus building left to percolate and evolve on its own, becoming puzzling and obsidian. An impenetrable tableau for a mystery that the physical world can’t comprehend: aliens exist.

As an audience, we’re given the exact same amount of work that the inspector is given but with extra detail once he’s left the room. Making us more equipped to exact ourselves on what’s happening but also, somehow, feeling even more confused with what’s happening and who these people are. Why were we shown that extra eyeline? Who is whispering? What is GOING on in these mountains?

The soviet “alien” and “robots” idea is less hammy western ideals of spooky wee guys from beyond but more ideas of assimilation and folklore-bred notions of humans not as humans. Robots aren’t mechanic techno-menaces but rather fleshy familiar. The aliens are shapeshifters making us feel accidentally comfortable while they find safe passage. Their gender and sexuality are fluid, almost androgynous, to the point that their misunderstanding of the concept of biology and sexuality are critiquing our own confusingly rigid viewpoints on both.

In the hotel, it feels like tenants are both arguing with each other and harmoniously disrupting your work at decoding, so that when the reveal hits, you feel astounded at its meaning. Especially with how the film chooses to frame its core end message: if aliens exist on earth, what would it mean to the integrity of human life? And if you kill one, what kind of corruption would that cause to the human soul knowing you killed possibly the greatest discovery of Man’s existence? Is it duty of fear?

It’s extremely hard to spoil Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, because almost everything in its filmmaking relies on your experience of its atmosphere and pace. Glacial, soothing, weird, quixotic. The first time I ever watched it, I knew it was my favourite foreign film. How could I not? Written by the legendary sci-fi math-brains Strugatsky brothers who (in the same year) had their novel Roadside Picnic turned into cult classic Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky and later Hard To Be A God adapted twice into messianic epics, Grigori Kromanov-directed Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel has their heady, huge themes built into it, but it’s minimalistic and restrained. Enjoying every second, it teases you into each gentle unzip. Don’t ask, don’t tell, just watch.

 There’s a weird essence about the whole thing that feels like it was a sci-fi noir film made for aliens BY aliens and their secret existence on Earth, but we just accidentally found it. A true, bonafide classic.

Findlay (@antibloom)

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel screens in association with The Reptile House at Matchbox Cineclub’s Weird Weekend on Sunday, 01/09/2019 at CCA, Glasgow

The Reptile House is a cult movie/music/art/weerd/oddball zine full of articles, film comparisons, poems, short stories and other lost and found miscellaneous junk. Everyone is welcome, because everyone belongs. Its print it out on shitty work printers at 6am when no one is in because I want it to be affordable for everyone! Any money made goes directly to local charities. Please do not tap the glass.

Buy tickets here

Weird Weekend 2019

Scotland’s cult film festival returns to CCA Glasgow this month, with three days of strange and unseen cinema from around the world.

Weird Weekend, Scotland’s cult film festival returns to CCA Glasgow this month with three days of strange and unseen cinema from around the world, beginning Friday 30th August and ending Sunday 1st September.

Weird Weekend 2019 features extremely rare screenings of lost masterpieces, brand-new restorations and UK premieres of future classics. 13 films and events over three days include a 35th anniversary, 35mm screening of the long unavailable Bill Murray sci-fi comedy Nothing Lost Forever (Tom Schiller, 1984), a rare outing for Tilda Swinton’s quadruple-role tour-de-force Teknolust (2002) and a 30th anniversary outing for the workprint cut of The ’Burbs (Joe Dante, 1989), with extended scenes and an alternative ending. Joe Dante will join the audience via Skype for a post-screening Q&A.

The film programme also includes: Brand-new 2K preservations of I Was A Teenage Serial Killer (1993) and Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore (1997) from the sadly departed “Queen of Underground Film” Sarah Jacobson, in association with Pity Party Film Club; Vibrations (Mike Paseornek, 1996); Freak Orlando (Ulrike Ottinger, 1981) in association with Scottish Queer International Film Festival; The UK premiere of AGFA and Bleeding Skull’s The Neon Slime Mixtape; Jane Arden and Jack Bond’s Anti-Clock (1979); Věra Chytilová’s Wolf’s Hole (1987); Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (Grigori Kromanov, 1979) in association with The Reptile House; and the 2K-restored, extended cut of Chris Shaw’s Split (1989).

GIF of Christian Bale in American Psycho alongside a Deepfaked version featuring Tom Cruise, and the overlaid text "ctrl shift face"

Matchbox Cineclub also welcome prominent Deepfake creator Ctrl Shift Face in person for the panel event, Weird World of Deepfakes in association with Trasho Biblio. A specially-curated feature length programme of Deepfakes will play on a loop in CCA’s cinema throughout the festival weekend. Finally, The Arrow Video Cult Film Quiz returns for the second year, with much swag up for grabs.

All films screen with open captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and tickets are priced on a sliding scale, from £0-8. You judge for yourself what you should pay, with reference to our sliding scale guide.

Black text on yellow - "Sliding Scale: What Should I Pay", followed by three columns of text

You can browse the full Weird Weekend programme on Issuu, and all tickets and passes are on sale exclusively in our online shop.

Accessibility for Film Screenings

Read Helen Wright of Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF)’s presentation on making your film screenings and events accessible to everyone

At the July Scalarama Glasgow meet-up, Helen Wright (Scottish Queer International Film Festival) gave a presentation and led a discussion on accessibility for film screenings. Helen covered basic principles, and practical access measures for screenings and for marketing film events.

Helen has very kindly allowed us to host the PowerPoint (above), which formed the basis of her presentation. Material from all of 2019’s Scalarama meetings/workshops in Glasgow, including guides to licensing, venues, tech set-up and social media, here.


Scalarama Glasgow is running monthly meetings in the lead-up to September’s season of DIY film programming. They’re aimed at helping exhibitors brand-new and experienced alike to put on films, and each month has two invited experts on different aspects of film exhibition. They’re free and open to all, full details here.

If you have any questions or could use some advice, get in touch with us here: info@matchboxcineclub.com

Weird Weekend: Sliding Scale Ticketing Guide

Sliding-Scale_Weird-Weekend

Passes for Weird Weekend, our cult film festival, are £40 (weekend) or £20 (day), and single tickets are priced on a sliding scale, based on your circumstances – you decide what to pay, with reference to our guide. There are three tiers: Free/£2, £4/£6 and £8.

Download our guide on what to pay here (with thanks to Scottish Queer International Film Festival), or refer to the text below. If you have any questions, please email us tickets@matchboxcineclub.com.

Sliding Scale: What Should I Pay?

FREE or £2
• I frequently stress about meeting basic* needs and don’t always achieve them.
• I have debt and it sometimes prohibits me from meeting my basic needs.
• I rent lower-end properties or have unstable housing.
• I sometimes can’t afford public or private transport. If I own a car/have access to a car, I am not always able to afford petrol.
• I am unemployed or underemployed.
• I qualify for government and/or voluntary assistance including: food banks and benefits.
• I have no access to savings.
• I have no or very limited expendable** income.
• I rarely buy new items because I am unable to afford them.
• I cannot afford a holiday or have the ability to take time off without financial burden.

£4 or £6
• I may stress about meeting my basic needs but still regularly achieve them.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I can afford public transport and often private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol.
• I am employed.
• I have access to health care.
• I might have access to financial savings.
• I have some expendable income.
• I am able to buy some new items and I buy others second hand.
• I can take a holiday annually or every few years without financial burden.

£8
• I am comfortably able to meet all of my basic needs.
• I may have some debt but it does not prohibit attainment of basic needs.
• I own my home or property or I rent a higher end property.
• I can afford public and private transport. If I have a car/access to a car I can afford petrol. • I have regular access to healthcare.
• I have access to financial savings.
• I have an expendable** income.
• I can always buy new items.
• I can afford an annual holiday or take time off.

*BASIC NEEDS include food, housing, clothing and transportation.

**EXPENDABLE INCOME might mean you are able to buy coffee or tea at a shop, go to the cinema or a concert, buy new clothes, books and similar items each month, etc.


Weird Weekend takes place at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, on Friday 30/08, Saturday 31/08 and Sunday 01/09/2019.

All tickets are on sale via our online shop here.

Keep up-to-date with the Weird Weekend Facebook event page here.

Fan Fan Fanatisch: Obsession in Der Fan

Guest writer Claire Biddles (Sad Girl Cinema) writes on female desire and fandom in German horror Der Fan ahead of our co-screening on July 21st. Beware spoilers!

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Désirée Nosbusch in Der Fan

“No letter today. I wrote to R over three weeks ago, and still no answer. Maybe he never got my letter. Maybe some jealous secretary got her hands on it and decided not to give it to him. Because she could tell I love him more than she does. Really love him.”

Although written and directed by a man – prolific German filmmaker Eckhart Schmidt – 1982 cult horror Der Fan is one of the most convincing depictions of female fandom, obsession and desire in cinema. Its descent into cartoon excess represents the heightened fantasy end point of pop star adulation, but it is grounded in uncomfortable truths.

Der Fan follows German teenager Simone, who is disengaged and almost catatonic as she sleepwalks through the drudgery of her home and school life. She barely speaks, but through her narration we discover the reason for her vegetative state: her every waking moment is devoted to intense thoughts of R, a new-wave pop star who she adores above anything else. Her bedroom walls are covered in monochrome images of him, and she listens to his songs via an omnipresent cassette Walkman that separates her from the real world. She no longer pays attention to schoolwork: “What’s the use? I can’t think of anything except R and how much I need him.”

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Désirée Nosbusch in Der Fan

The signifiers of fandom are familiar, but the execution is unusual. Rather than a depiction of the (often communal) hysterical excitement of fangirls, Der Fan traces its solitary, destructive flipside. It’s telling that the film’s alternative English title is Trance: Simone’s desire is so all-encompassing that other people fail to register — her teachers, parents, more appropriate romantic suitors. Her unreciprocated obsession is so all-encompassing that it becomes destructive; cancelling out its mundane surroundings.

Simone’s desire has left her with a one-track mind in the centre of a void, wandering the streets in a fugue state. The film’s atmosphere is a dull ache: rain and suburban streets and municipal buildings. R’s music is the kind typically made by inhabitants of these post-industrial landscapes – the soundtrack by Düsseldorf group Rheingold recalls the driving empty urbanity of Joy Division or Bauhaus.

Simone has written R a letter to which he hasn’t responded. Every day she drags her feet to the post office in anticipation of his reply; a voiceover counting the days like a prison sentence. When she tires of waiting, she tracks him down outside a TV studio, and they finally meet. Simone is speechless — she collapses and he rescues her, taking her inside the studio to watch his performance being filmed.

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Désirée Nosbusch and Bodo Steiger in Der Fan

The link between the devotion of pop fandom and the manipulative power of political dictatorship is often made in films about charismatic pop stars – most recently in Brady Corbet’s twin films Childhood of a Leader and Vox Lux. The allusion is sometimes clunky: in Der Fan, images of mass-saluting crowds are interspersed with images of R in Simone’s bedroom; in the television performance that Simone watches, R wears a militaristic uniform surrounded by saluting mannequins. The sinister creep of R’s power is more subtly expressed in the similarity between R and Simone when they finally meet, both wearing almost identical outfits of white shirts and dark leather trousers. This could be read as a symbol of R’s control over Simone (and others – his secretary is also seen in a similar outfit) but also of Simone’s desire to possess him so much that she literally starts to become him: an under-reported but fundamental manifestation of fandom.

This desire is made explicit (and then some) in the film’s audacious final act. After their meeting at the television studio, R takes Simone to his friend’s empty apartment where they have sex. After this ultimate act of wish-fulfilment, R disappoints Simone with his aloofness – his desire for a simple one night stand not matching up to her overwhelming need for him. The film’s final twist sees her react with extreme and perverted violence.

Der-Fan-poster_web

While committing this strange violence, Simone is single-minded and determined, her demeanour as trance-like as when she was yearning for R at the start of the film. She’s detached and withdrawn, an empty vessel. If obsession destroys everything around the object of desire, it’s no surprise that it will eventually start to erode the self, too. So much of Simone’s sense of self is constructed around her desire for R, and her desire for R is constructed around a fiction of her own creation. Like so many relationships between fan and fan-object, Simone projects her own base needs onto the empty vessel of a pop star. He can be anything she needs him to be. Even his single-letter name is ripe for projection – a hyper-concentrated version of the iconic mononymous pop star. Nobody knows what the ‘R’ stands for, so it could stand for anything. His post-punk voice is monotonous and anonymous, but Simone fills it with subjective meaning: “He always sings with that same voice, but to me it sounds different every time.” This projection is disrupted once Simone meets the ‘real’ R. When the fan-object disintegrates into nothing, the fan’s whole sense of self is in flux.

Although it presents an extreme manifestation of fandom and obsession, Der Fan’s depiction of desire as a nihilistic force is rooted in truth. It can also be argued as a subtly feminist film: its moral could be that female desire is deadly and destructive, something for men to be afraid of — but also that desire for men is destructive for women too. So many narratives around fandom are rooted in pop stars’ potential to ‘save’ their fans, but Der Fan suggests they can just as easily destroy them — or help them to destroy themselves.

Claire Biddles


Der Fan screens on Sunday 21/07 at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, followed by a panel discussion on obsession, fandom and thirst, moderated by Claire Biddles.

Tickets are on sale via Matchbox Cineclub’s online shop here, and are priced on a sliding scale, according to your means.

Keep up-to-date with the Facebook event page here.

Under The Cherry Moon with Backseat Bingo

The tale of our collaboration with Prince expert/fashion historian/cult film programmer triple threat Casci Ritchie, in celebration of His Royal Badness

01 Intro Slide

When news of Prince’s untimely death came through in April 2016, we were hosting a mystery screening at The Old Hairdressers. We lingered after the screening to take advantage of the special set-up (brand-new projector and tiered seating brought in for GI) and settled in to scour YouTube for whatever Prince content we could find (not a huge amount back then). Coincidentally, Backseat Bingo, about five years ago, hosted cult film screenings in The Old Hairdressers (films like Cry Baby, Teenagers From Outer Space, House On Haunted Hill and Strait-Jacket). This was just before Matchbox Cineclub started our monthly night there (and long before we moved our residency to CCA), and sadly we never made it to one of their events.

Backseat Bingo was then dormant for a few years, so altogether we were very happy, in January this year, to hear from Casci Ritchie, the brains behind BB, with a co-screening pitch. Casci, also a fashion historian specialising in Prince, wanted to mark what would’ve been The Purple One’s 61st birthday on Friday June 7th, 2019, with a rare screening of Under The Cherry Moon (1986). We jumped at the chance to screen Prince’s misunderstood directorial debut, the follow-up to the acknowledged masterpiece Purple Rain, derided as a vanity project and long overdue for critical reappraisal.

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And it seemed everyone else wanted to do something special for the event too. CCA’s tech staff agreed to climb teetering ladders to add coloured gels to their lights – though the unexpectedly pouring sunshine dulled the effect a little – so the foyer greeting the audience was bathed, albeit faintly, in Prince-y purple. Saramago, the café/bar embedded in the heart of CCA, got involved by playing Casci’s specially-curated Prince playlist all day long, from doors open until our programme began at 7pm, with the best of Prince’s movie trailers. Casci even provided a stash of Tootsie Pops, Prince’s very favourite sweet, for the arriving audience to dig into.

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Casci’s illustrated talk took us on a journey through Prince’s fashion evolution, illustrating his iconic style through photos, clips and her expert knowledge. From his early days as a dedicated follower of fashion, all bell bottoms and platforms, to his instantly recognisable spandex, chains and trench coat, right through to his final years of more relaxed feminine tailor, Casci covered it all. Prince is known for his outlandish dress sense, but Casci gave the audience an insight into just how considered and deliberate his choices were, reflecting his evolving artistic intentions. The audience were then well equipped to fully appreciate His Royal Badness’ outfits in Under The Cherry Moon, and safe to say everyone wanted a backless suit.

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The event was sold out, and we sold tickets on a sliding scale from zero to £8, with an average ticket price of £4.86. That’s worth noting since typically we’d price our tickets at around £4 and so the sliding scale continues to provide accessibility while actual increasing our box office. That’s important because it proves screenings like these can be sustainable and accessible at the same time, and also because it means Backseat Bingo can reinvest in more upcoming events.

Sliding-Scale_Cherry-Moon

Casci also organised a raffle in aid of East Glasgow Music School, a project we felt Prince would’ve approved of. EGMS run on Saturday mornings during term time and offer music lessons for children in the East End of Glasgow, helping build self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. The School provides instruments on free loan to children, and is fully inclusive, welcoming children of all levels of ability and from all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Matchbox Cineclub contributed our share of the box office too, making a total of £225.31 for EGMS.

Also in terms of accessibility, the main feature and the supporting programme (trailers for Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, Graffiti Bridge, our upcoming screening Der Fan and the music video for Batdance) were captioned/subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. That’s possible since Matchbox now has a professional subtitling arm, and the intention to caption/subtitle all our upcoming screenings and their supporting programmes (i.e. trailers, etc).

We have more team-ups on the way this year – with Sad Girl Cinema, Queer Classics and Pity Party Film Club – and we’re always looking for collaboration. This year, Film Hub Scotland’s support means we’ve been able to spark some co-screenings to encourage new independent exhibitors/programmers, like Venom Mob Film Club, or dormant ones, like Backseat Bingo, to screen more films around Glasgow. And, if you’d like to start a film night, or plan your own screening series, we’re running an open call for collaborative pitches to help launch your project through a co-screening with us. The deadline for pitches is Friday June 14th – read the full details here. And if you’re more established but would still like to team-up, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch here.


Thanks to Casci Ritchie & Backseat Bingo, Charlie, Kenny Christie, Dee Clark, Alex Misick, Ingrid Mur, Film Hub Scotland, Filmbank and CCA Glasgow.

Like Backseat Bingo on Facebook here, follow them on Instagram here.