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The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Any film scholar or film geek will tell you that the world of the cinema changed in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Bonnie and Clyde flipped the script on what was acceptable to show on the big screen, Easy Rider showed that there was a market for these kinds of films, and the scene was cemented with the likes of The Godfather, American Graffiti, Jaws, and Taxi Driver by the Coppola’s, Spielberg’s, Lucas and Scorsese’s of that time. This was the time of New Hollywood. But even as New Hollywood grew, there was a smaller evolution in cinema growing in the tiny independent theaters. Starting in 1970, a crazed Argentinean named Alejandro Jodorowsky made a movie called El Topo. And nobody knew how to sell the movie. Long story short; the film ended up at the Elgin Theater for a midnight screening. And the film sold out. Every single night! This started a new brand of movies. The Midnight Movie, a step off the mainstream beaten path into a new realm of unique visions and artistic expressions. Many more such films would follow. John Waters would gain cult status with Pink Flamingos, Night of the Living Dead scared audiences with zombies, and David Lynch would mind **** the midnight scene with Eraserhead. But the most successful and popular of these films is The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Based off the play, it is a musical tribute to B movie science fiction and horror movies. A film so popular that this movie has stayed in the theaters for forty years! It is not playing at the big theaters mind you, but look at the show times for smaller indie theaters and you will eventually find a showing. What sets this film apart from the other midnight movies is its rabid fan base and it’s very interactive theatrical experience. So how was this film in the theater? Well come up to the lab, and see what’s on the slab! As we examine The Rocky Horror Picture Show!

The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows the journey of Brad Majors and his new fiancé Janet Weiss. They leave the small town of Denton (which is just northwest of me), to see their old teacher Dr Scott when their car blows a tire. They make their way through the rain to a nearby castle owned by Dr Frank-N-Furter; a mad scientist and sweet transvestite from the Planet Transsexual in the Transylvania galaxy. Aided by his assistant’s Riff Raff, Columbia, and Magenta; Frank wishes to create for himself a new plaything in the form of the (mostly) mute Rocky Horror. A creature made in the style of Frankenstein but with the looks closer to Charles Atlas. What follows is easily the craziest night of Brad and Janet’s lives. Mad science, seduction, murder, cross dressing, dancing to the Time Warp, Meat Loaf, and one hell of a closing musical number! All the while having quite a few references to classic horror and sci-fi films. Hell half the props and sets are from of old Hammer Horror movies!

Now I have loved The Rocky Horror Picture Show for years, but this was actually my first time seeing the film in the theater, which made for a very special movie going experience. This was new territory. Uncharted waters. Fear and Loathing… I saw this at The Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson, a theater usually known for its strict no talking policy. Well they threw that right out for this film man! I knew this theater going experience was going to be different when I got to my seat. There was a red goodie bag full of props. Inside was one filled up water pistol, one lipped shape whistle, one playing card, one container of bubbles and bubble wand, a party hat, a party popper full of confetti, a piece of toast, and the page of a magazine. Now I was familiar with the antics of the Rocky Horror crowd coming in. How certain lines will be screamed at the screen at certain times like a Catholic answers the Father at mass. But I was ignorant of what the props were to be used for. Sure I know that props were used, but I knew not what they would be used for. Lucky me there was a set of instructions. The first set of props used was the water pistol. The whole audience fired streams of water up in the air when Brad and Janet exited the car in a rain storm. This led to me quickly learning what the magazine pages were for. And unlike every other movie going experience, during the song “There’s a Light” cell phones with their flashlights on were taken out and waved like lighters at a rock concert. The rest of the movie involved the popping of said confetti, playing cards and toast were eventually tossed in the air, bubbles were blown, whistles are blown and the hats were worn when Rocky had his birthday. Each timed to a specific scene and appropriate time.

In addition to the props were the audience responses. This is the only social setting I know not involving a Kardashian or Paris Hilton where it is perfectly okay to scream at the top of your lungs repeatedly that a woman is a sl*t. This is what the audience did whenever Janet’s full name is stated. Brad gets a similar treatment, only he is referred to as an a$$hole. But they were not the only ones to feel the verbal abuse of the Rock Horror fan base. The Criminologist and narrator was repeatedly mocked for not having a neck. Not to mention there were many lines shouted during the pauses in his lines. In one instance of the Criminologist’s monologue right before his line, the audience on cue asks if he was into bestiality. The question was akin to “Do you like to **** donkeys?” His response of “I do” was most humorous. Or the time we all screamed “baiting” right after Riff Raff said “Master.” This is not a family friendly sing along. If a mother and her son were to accidentally stumble into this theater hoping to see In & Out, they would be horrified of what they saw. Grown men and women, some in costume, yelling profanity at the screen while dancing in the aisles and in the front of the theater; I can only wonder the damage such a sight would cause their poor fragile minds. I mean it is not often a child sees a cross dressing Tim Curry going down on Barry Bostwick saying “Coming” while the audience yells “So is Brad!” Needless to say the poor little booger eater would not be able to handle it. Thankfully for their sake this was a 10:20 pm showing. Kiddies are tucked away so the adults can play.

In all seriousness this was a fantastic theater experience. The songs are fantastic, the dance sequences are superb, and Brad and Janet are delightfully stiff foils to outrageous Tim Curry. Tim gives it his all as he puts every ounce of his over the top acting into the role of the decadent and hedonistic Dr Frank-N-Furter. I can see why this has never left the theater. It is one big party. Every showing is the potential for something different. Every new show a new crowd and new possibilities. And to top it off you are sharing this communal experience by watching a great movie! As I have said, my favorite animated musicals are Disney movies and South Park. But The Rocky Horror Picture Show is… my favorite musical of all time. Yes Miss Vicky, I like it even more then Frozen. To enjoy the film at home is great, but the real way to see this film is at the theater. You won’t get this experience at home watching it on Netflix. So get out to the theater and pop your Rocky Horror cherries. The Avengers may be the movie I have seen in the theater the most right now… but give it a year or two and that is certainly going to change. I will see this movie in the theater again and again for a long time coming.