Scala: Sex, drugs and rock and roll cinema
In tribute to the legendary venue and the new documentary celebrating its influence, a collection of the greatest cult hits from the world’s wildest cinema.
Between 1978 and 1993, the Scala cinema showed over 4000 films, developing a unique programme ranging from established classics to cult movies, music films, horror and LGBTQ+, in daily double bills plus Saturday all-nighters. While many of the films have become more regularly available than they once were, their infamous tropes even entering into the language of mainstream cinema, there are still many wild and transgressive delights to be found in the Scala canon, including some still rarely screened in the UK to this day.
We present a selection here which, while unable to replicate the authentic ‘80s venue experience, does allow you to curate your own anarchic all-nighters for home viewing.
Documentary202396 minsDirector: Jane Giles and Ali Catterall
Engrossing tribute to London’s legendary Scala cinema, aptly subtitled: Or, the incredibly strange rise and fall of the world’s wildest cinema and how it influenced a mixed-up generation of weirdos and misfits.
Inside Film202416 mins
Filmmakers Jane Giles and Ali Catterall discuss their documentary Scala!!!, revisiting the legendary and inspirational cinema venue and some of the most notorious films that screened there.
Comedy198390 minsDirector: Rosa von Praunheim
Jayne County, Angie Stardust and Tara O'Hara star in Rosa von Praunheim's trans-punk groteskes-musical.
Comedy1975160 minsDirector: Curt Mcdowell
One dark and stormy night a group of strangers take refuge in a remote house, and then… Not for the easily offended.
Comedy197598 minsDirector: Walerian Borowczyk
An outrageous classic of erotic cinema, Walerian Borowczyk’s playful and subversive fantasy finds a horny heiress courting the ravenous desires of a wild beast.
Horror197483 minsDirector: Tobe Hooper
Unrivalled in its relentless vision of pure terror, Tobe Hooper’s horror masterpiece remains as brutal and horrific as it ever was.
Crime198798 minsDirector: Sammo Hung Kam-bo
Sammo Hung directs and stars in this high-kicking tribute to The Dirty Dozen, which sees ten convicts offered amnesty if the undertake a deadly mission behind enemy lines in Vietnam to destroy a top-secret munitions dump
Biopic197944 minsDirector: Franco Rosso
Vibrant documentary portrait of dub poet and activist Linton Kwesi Johnson, fighting racism with the spoken word on the streets of 1970s Brixton.
Drama198179 minsDirector: Kathryn Bigelow and Monty Montgomery
In the first (credited) feature from both star Willem Dafoe and director Kathryn Bigelow, a gang of rebellious bikers cause small-town mayhem.
Drama1973119 minsDirector: Liliana Cavani
Dirk Bogarde and Charlotte Rampling star in this controversial story of the profoundly disturbing relationship between a former SS officer a concentration camp survivor.
Thriller1984107 minsDirector: Ken Russell
Ken Russell's second Hollywood film is a deliriously excessive erotic thriller with Kathleen Turner as an imperilled prostitute.
Fantasy197165 minsDirector: James Bidgood
With its highly charged hallucinogenic quality, its atmosphere of lush decadence, and its explicit erotic power, Pink Narcissus is a landmark of gay cinema.
Drama198687 minsDirector: Juliet Bashore
Juliet Bashore’s queer docufiction, starring Tigr and real-life girlfriend porn star Sharon Mitchell, was shot in and celebrates the heady days of the San Francisco underground in the 1980s.
Drama1978106 minsDirector: Derek Jarman
The mythological past and a soon-to-be bleak future converge on the sparse, grey streets of London in Jarman’s personal vision of the punk movement.
Drama198096 minsDirector: Dennis Hopper
Directed by Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider) this story of a blue-collar family coming apart features an astonishing performance from Linda Manz (Days of Heaven).
Drama1982109 minsDirector: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Jeanne Moreau plays a jaded brothel madam caught up in the violent sexual awakening of Brad Davis' naïve young sailor in Fassbinder's fever dream of subversive eroticism.
Historical drama197294 minsDirector: Werner Herzog
This early masterpiece from Werner Herzog stars Klaus Kinski as a power-crazed explorer in sixteenth-century South America who leads a band of conquistadors through the Amazon in search of El Dorado.
Drama1974194 minsDirector: Jacques Rivette
Jacques Rivette’s biggest commercial hit is an exhilarating combination of theatricality, paranoia and ‘la vie parisienne’, around an entrancing examination of making and watching films.
Drama1976113 minsDirector: Barbet Schroeder
Gerard Depardieu plays the young innocent who falls for the mysterious maitresse Ariane (Bulle Ogier), a leather clad dominatrix, in Barbet Schroeder’s controversial film.
Drama1978121 minsDirector: Horace Ové
Hailed as Britain's first black feature film, Pressure is a hard-hitting, honest document of the plight of disenchanted black youths in 1970s London; now available in its new restoration.
Drama1972103 minsDirector: Perry Henzell
The cult classic, acknowledged as the catalyst for the popularisation of reggae in the US, sees Jimmy Cliff traversing the underbelly of Jamaican shanty-town life.
Road movie1979100 minsDirector: Chris Petit
Chris Petit's cult classic is one of the most striking feature debuts in British cinema – a haunting blend of edgy mystery story and existential road movie.