Guest Author - Michelle Taylor
The movie that by far stands out as the cult classic (emphasis on cult) is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It has the most avid, and longest, fan participation.
The movie itself is can only be loosely interpreted as a SciFi film. Yes it is a spoof of sorts on “Frankenstein” and yes, it does have aliens in it, but by far and away it is more an excuse to focus on sex in all its variations. Especially when you consider that it was made in a time that homosexuality and transgender were considered very taboo, it is a very risque film.
The story centers around a young couple Brad and Janet (played by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon). They are newly engaged and on their way to share their news with an old instructor of theirs Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams). On the way their car blows a tire in the middle of nowhere. Brad remembers passing a castle a little ways back, so the two trek out on foot, in the rain, to see if they can borrow a phone.
When they arrive at the mansion, they realize everything is quite strange. Apparently there is a party going on. This is when the infamous “Time Warp” takes place, during which the couple is introduced to the owner, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) a “sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania.” Janet faints several times.
It is revealed that the Dr. has created a man in his laboratory (emphasis on all five syllables, please). Said man is meant to be a companion for the doctor. While introducing his creation to all the attendees, another experiment escapes from the freezer - Eddie (Meatloaf), and causes mayhem on the lab. He is quickly dispatched by Frank-N-Furter.
The guests are then shown to their rooms, where in the middle of the night, each are (ahem) visited by the doctor. It becomes quite a farce. In the midst of all this the creature, named Rocky (Peter Hinwood) escapes and is run down by the dogs. He is found by Janet hiding in his tank. Soon everyone winds up back in the lab to be joined by the friend, Dr. Scott, whom Brad and Janet were on their way to visit in the first place.
I’ll stop there so as not to give the whole movie away.
The real story here, though, is about the fans. The film was first released in late September, 1975 – and did not do well at all. Then it was re-released on April Fool’s Day in 1976 at the Waverly Theater in New York. According to Sal Piro (“Creatures of the Night”) the director took to playing the soundtrack before the show and “a party atmosphere was generated as a result”. It was then that people started booing and cheering at the movie screen.
By Labor Day of that year, people had started yelling things at the screen, and by Halloween they were dressing up as the characters. Around April of 1977 audience members started bringing “props” like rice to throw at the wedding scene, cards to throw during “I’m Going Home”, and toast to throw when Frank-N-Furter says “A toast” at the dinner table. It wasn't long before people were doing a full floor show on the stage in front of the screen while the movie was playing, including (especially) “The Time Warp”.
There are live showings of The Rocky Horror Pictures Show still today. You can find them in the link at the bottom of the article. Or, of course, you can rent or buy the DVD. I will warn you that you will have the songs stuck in your head for days after (until you listen to something completely inane, like “What Does the Fox Say?”)
This film is rated R for sexual content, some language, and mild violence. It was originally rated PG, but then received complaints that some of the content was too adult in some places, so the rating was changed. My 16 year old daughter watched it with me, no way I would let my 10 year old see it.
I rented this DVD with my own funds
RHPS live showings