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Phil Ilson
The Halloween Society

We only did one screening at the Crown, as the audience was in single figures and the landlord didn’t want us back, so we moved further up Dean Street to a room above Nellie Dean’s and advertised a gore splattered special with the extreme films of Alex Chandon, who had approached us to showcase his work. Perhaps it was the promise of horror, but both screenings at this venue were full, with queues into the street. We moved to the larger Clachan pub behind Liberty’s off Regents Street for a few shows. Then we found Notre Dame Hall – a hidden gem just off Leicester Square next to the Prince Charles Cinema. This 1940s ballroom was underneath the French church and was still run as a church hall, with tea dances, rock ‘n’ roll nights, and ballroom classes. It also had a cinema screen, as it had once been the official cinema for the French Institute before their move to South Kensington. We paid £200 for a Monday night slot and remained here running monthly events for the next five years.

As audiences grew to the hundreds, we started to theme these monthly events (which Halloween still does to this day), with Love themed programmes for Valentine’s Day and a bizarre Sex ‘n’ Punk night. Using a larger venue complete with stage and lounge-style seating, this allowed us to bring in extra entertainment such as variety acts, live music, and cabaret, and even the Halloween Society Dancers regular slot. Our whole décor and design of mirror balls, sixties imagery, and Victoriana flyers gave us a kitsch identity that fitted in perfectly with the burgeoning easy listening and lounge music scene which Halloween very much affiliated itself with. We even collaborated with the popular easy listening club nights Club Montepulciano to hold one-off spectaculars at the Hanover Grand and Turnmills club. Halloween was also invited to run screenings at the then newly opened Ritzy Cinema in Brixton, under the name Electric Pavilion.

Love-themed programme flyer for Valentine's Day 1996
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