Hackers – a cyberpunk exhibit in a basement
There is a basement in central London that is currently filled with movie costumes from one of the original cyberpunk cult movies
The movie, Hackers on a Group of Hackers, is a big part of its time, when the internet wasn’t well known and “hackers” were seen as nerds who weren’t popular in school. Then that movie came along, and let’s be frank, it’s bloody enough for the storylines and scripts, but the visuals were amazing and the music was pumping.
Away from the nerds in the basements, and hello to the first cyberpunk outfits, great music, and yes, even a girl as a hacker – and a maid on top of that.
Made around the time when the Cyberdog clubbing fashion store was starting out in Camden, it’s no surprise that the film’s design seems to look like it’s stepping out of the London club scene.
Costume designer Roger K Burton wouldn’t have decided to do it on purpose, trying to create a more timeless fusion of different styles, and yet it feels very mid-1990s at the end.
It’s exciting, uplifting, slightly political, and from a period of low budget filmmaking that was more experimental than what we might find today.
The film was a commercial flop at the time, but has since gained quite a bit of cult following, which is easier to understand if you watch the film when it is not entirely sober.
Unusually for a movie, the costumes were given to the designer, and he’s kept them in stock ever since – and now they’re on display, with rarely seen photos of the sets and the actors in their outfits.
The exhibit is at Horse Hospital, just behind Russell Square tube station. It’s the kind of place where you ring a bell to get in, then walk down the ramp to the basement.
Over there, looking like a frozen moment in time, as if the lights had gone on in a nightclub and everyone was stopping, is the exhibit.
You don’t have to know the movie to enjoy the show, just for the fashion sense. You must book in advance here, and entry is by donation, which saves the horse hospital from closure.