They’re handing out free condoms at the midnight screening of Frankenhooker (1990) at the Globe Cinema on Friday October 24th! This peculiar bit of generosity is not intended to encourage you to practise safe sex (although you should totally do that) but rather to provide you with a unique memento of your viewing experience. Y’see each rubber comes in a custom-made packet bearing the distinctive purple face of Frankenhooker herself which you can keep as a treasured souvenir until either the latex disintegrates or until you really really need a condom.

Sounds like the kind of jolly showmanship from the heyday of exploitation cinema doesn’t it? You can thank Greg Sonier and Cody Cook from the Night Terrors Film Society for that. These guys remember the once-popular practice of giving away crazy trinkets at screenings of trashy movies. Frankenhooker director Frank Henenlotter would be pleased. When his first film Basket Case (1982) debuted in New York City Frank handed out free surgical masks to each patron — the idea being that the film was so gory you’d need the mask to keep the blood off your face. In fact Henenlotter continued to express his love for cheesy promotional gimmicks when Frankenhooker got released on VHS in a specialized box containing a hidden sound module that said “Wanna Date?!” when you squeezed it.

“When I was a lot younger going to the movies was about more than just seeing a film” says Sonier. “If you were really lucky they’d be giving something away with your ticket purchase. It could be stickers buttons posters coins or an assortment of other movie tie-ins. It was akin to getting the surprise in a box of Cracker Jacks only much cooler. I still treasure my statue from Cannibal Holocaust and my signed vomit bag from Mark of the Devil.”

Earlier this summer when the Night Terrors series of late-night cult movies returned with a screening of Demons (1985) patrons were given a replica of the oversized “Metropol” ticket seen in the film itself.

Some of the cool movie-related promotional items I’ve received over the years include pink soap (from Fight Club) a real cigar (from Abel Ferrara’s The Funeral 1996) a battle-axe-shaped keychain that screams (from Kull the Conqueror 1997) and a full-sized Ouija board (from the original première of Ghostbusters 1984). That last one wasn’t an actual piece of Ghostbusters merchandise and it wasn’t given to everybody. They just had five of them to give out as random door prizes and had obviously bought them at a toy store just prior to the screening. Still a neat idea and kinda-sorta related to the film’s content.

Other famous items handed out for free with movie admissions include fake beards “given to guys and gals alike” in order to “Disguise yourself from the forces of evil!” (from Rasputin the Mad Monk 1966). People who bought tickets for Zotz! (1962) were given plastic replicas of the magic coin seen in the film and probably tried to use them to magic-blast their siblings. One of the weirdest giveaways was the “Win a live rat for your Mother-In-Law!” promotion attempted by the producers of The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! (1972). The pressbook encouraged theatre managers to “purchase a rat (or a mouse — they are similar) and a cage from a local pet store. You may think that few people would want to win a rat — and you are probably right. But many people will talk about it!” Did any theatres actually go along with this madness?

Condoms on the other hand fit easily into your pocket and won’t try to eat your popcorn so pick one up at the Frankenhooker screening at the Globe and remember to always practise safe sex.