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  • Meisha Garvey

REVIEW: Halloween at The Village Screen’s Peak Cavern Pop-Up

The Village Screen Pop-up Cinema was founded by Claire Atkinson and Eamonn Hunt in 2015. They wanted to create unique events that were more than just showing films on a big screen. The Village Screen display a variety of films from indies to newer mainstream films and classics in quirky venues and hidden gems. Some of their most memorable screenings were their first in 2015 – The Full Monty at Castlegate’s Q Park rooftop, The Little Mermaid at an outdoor swimming pool in Hathersage, Romeo + Juliet in a Monastery and The Descent in The Peak Cavern Caves.

Just this year they teamed up with Wagamama to host an event for Pride, screening To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar in The Winter Gardens with free Wagamama snacks. They strive to create events for everyone and work with local businesses, so each event is always more than just a screening, they’ll have local food vendors, musicians, DJs and more.

We were absolutely delighted to grab tickets to a The Village Screen showing of our choice in July, but due to a series of unfortunate events (awful weather being one of them) our first and second movie choices were cancelled. Luckily, third time really is the charm, and we saw their Halloween screening of The Conjuring on Friday 27th October at the Peak Cavern.

It was a perfect night to watch a supernatural film, the dense fog on the drive through the peaks really set the scene. Once we reached the Devil’s Arse we went to get our wristbands and reserve our seats. The team were kitted out in skeleton jumpsuits to make them easier to spot on the path leading up to the venue, and they were all so kind and helpful. Laura especially made sure to give us the full VIP treatment and surprised us with free popcorn and a drinks token for each of us, which we happily took advantage of and had our first mulled ciders of the season.

We decided to bring our own blankets and seat cushions, but The Village Screen do provide them if they’re purchased as add-ons along with tickets, people can also get hot water bottles and choose to show a message on the screen before the film. A great surprise for anyone celebrating their birthday, wanting to propose or just declare their love.

After claiming our seats, we had almost an hour and a half before the movie was scheduled to begin at 8pm, so we journeyed back down the path to the car park where the food vendors and live entertainment were.

International party duo La Fox were belting tunes for the night, and getting everyone in the mood while we gorged on delicious food. Sadly, burger slingers As Tha Got Beef had to drop out, but British Street Food Award winners Shoot the Bull took their place, along with Sheffield’s favourite sustainable plant-based food vendor Icarus and Apollo, and Rotherham’s best pizza makers B’reyt Dough. We, of course, had to try at least one thing from every vendor.

Shoot the Bull proved exactly why they’d not only won, but been nominated numerous times at the British Street Food Awards, their Cowboy Wagyu Steak & Fries were insanely good. The fries stayed hot and crispy until the end even with all the oil and seasonings pooling at the bottom of the carton and soaking into them, while the steak was almost melt in your mouth soft. It was packed with flavour and cooked beautifully, medium rare as it should be. Their State Fair Hotdog was also a big hit, we saw a lot of people snacking on them. We found the hotdog slightly tough, but the ketchup, mustard and beer braised onions did soften the longer it took to eat (which was awhile, they were huge). We also tried their Pork Belly Sub, which was crispy pork belly in a brioche sub, piled high with buttermilk slaw, bourbon bbq glaze and pineapple salsa. The spicy citrus salsa and sweet smokey bbq went so well together, especially with the crunchy texture from the slaw, the only downside was it took awhile for it to cook and once we got it, the pork belly was very tough, which made it chewy and not as enjoyable.

Although we did try a lot from Shoot the Bull (we just couldn’t resist their varied menu), we also grabbed B’reyt Dough’s B’reyt Classic, a pepperoni pizza with basil and parmesan. The owners, Luke and Adam, describe their food as where Yorkshire meets Naples, and the pizza definitely lives up to it. It was Neapolitan quality, not too much crust, a rich tomato sauce and the perfect amount of cheese and pepperoni—they did not scrimp on the meat, which we greatly appreciated.

Lastly we tried Icarus and Apollo, who were making sure vegetarians and vegans didn’t miss out on the hot dog love and had 3 different options for loaded hot dogs on their menu, as well as chilli loaded nachos to share. The nachos were tempting but we settled on a Vegan Mexican Burrito, to purge all the meat we’d just eaten. The burrito was packed with chilli beans, rice, pico de gallo, pineapple salsa and vegan cheese and honestly there was nothing we’d change about it, it was slightly spicy, hot and the perfect balance of flavours. The pineapple salsa added a kick of citrus and sweetness that went well with the pico de gallo.

After our huge feast, we trekked back up the lit path to the caves to get back in time for the movie. An actor dressed up as Annabelle (a possessed doll from The Conjuring) scared us on the way in, then sat back in her chair to creepily watch everyone. It was a lot of fun and the skulls and floating candles added to the atmosphere of the cave. We made sure to collect our free popcorn and took our seats to spend 2 hours being deeply disturbed by demons, possessions and exorcisms in a dark cave—it was honestly one of the best and most unique Halloween experiences we’ve had.

If you’re looking for something a little different from your typical cinema trip, we’d definitely recommend getting tickets for one of their future pop-ups. The Village Screen aim to create lasting, happy memories for their audience, and they certainly did for us.

Currently, there an no upcoming events on this winter, but in the past The Village Screen have hosted special events for Valentines Day. You can check their Instagram and website for what’s on in the future, or subscribe to their newsletter to get updates sent directly to you — they promise to not spam you.


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