Some time ago, roughly one hundred years, I worked in the belly of Edinburgh’s oldest filmhouse, The Cameo Cinema. In this wonderful place I had the honour of meeting a remarkable resident – esteemed manager, in-house rarity, bar-room evangelist, on-stage psychotic, all round main man; Mr Ian Hoey. A passionate advocate of screen culture, with a savage wit, he gave his heart (blackened) and soul (sold ages ago) to making The Cameo everything it should be. He was also something of a father figure for us back-house types. ‘You’re looking particularly EVIL today, Geoff’ he would say, for example, as I emerged slowly for my shift behind the Cameo’s bar taps. Ian has since become a unique voice for the BBC’s Culture Studio and a regular contributor to numerous film publications and websites.
Written for Reel Scotland, this piece is a marvellous trip back down the aisle to the horror-show that you never forgot. Ian’s recollections are, as always, replete with as much poignancy, wonder and horrific scarring as Lon Cheney’s face.
Cue dark corners, deep seats, cool momentary stillness amid the rich drapery of the auditorium.
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