The Rocky Horror Picture Show
When the Rocky Horror Picture Show, a British-American film, premiered in 1975, every teenager in the United States flocked to the theater to see the spectacle. This crazy film was intended to be a satirical take on low budget horror and old science fiction films dating back to the 1930’s. The film opened with a huge pair of red lips singing about that very genre of films, poking fun of their evolution.
The film begins with recently engaged, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) out driving on a cold, rainy night with the misfortune of getting lost; and on top of that, they discovered that they had a flat tire. While they set out on foot to find a phone to call for help, they came across a creepy castle belonging to the zany scientist, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry). With no other choice, they approached the castle only to discover that Dr. Frank was hosting his annual Transylvanian Convention. The attendees were a bit eccentric, so say the least.
Dr. Frank N. Furter introduced himself as a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania." Attendees of the convention included Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), Magenta (Patricia Quinn), Riff Raff’s sister and a kooky groupie named Columbia (Nell Campbell). All of the guests were from Transsexual and was either a transvestite or transsexual.
Dr. Frank then declared that he was about to unveil the “secret to life itself!” He had used his outlandish talents to create a man that he brought to life, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). After the unveiling, a celebration took place, which was promptly crashed by Eddie (Meatloaf). Eddie was a former delivery boy who also happened to be an ex-lover to both Dr. Frank and Columbia. As if that wasn’t bizarre enough, Eddie also had donated half of his brain to contribute to the creation of Rocky.
Ironically, Rocky was afraid of his creator, Dr. Frank. The good Dr. attempted to seduce Rocky and was flatly rejected. Actually, there was a lot of seducing going on as the celebration got underway; including Eddie playing up to Columbia, his ex. Unfortunately, Brad and Janet were caught in the middle of this craziness and were left with no choice but to take it all in. When Dr. Frank caught sight of Rocky enjoying the seductive scenery and his newfound life, he became enraged with jealousy and killed Eddie. The film then showed Dr. Frank and Rocky going off together.
The film just continued to get more bizarre as Dr. Frank seduced both Brad and Janet in their separate bedrooms. Dr. Everette Scott (Jonathan Adams), Eddie’s uncle and rival to Dr. Frank showed up looking for his nephew. Coincidentally, Dr. Scott was a former teacher to both Brad and Janet leaving Dr. Frank suspicious and paranoid of their connection.
Dinner was served after the surprising discovery of Janet and Rocky enjoying some alone time between the sheets; upsetting Dr. Frank and Brad. Think dinner couldn’t have gotten more awkward? Well, it did just that after it was revealed that Eddie, although dead, was joining them for dinner; as the main course! Everyone ran in horror and disgust from the dinner table and ended up in Dr. Frank’s laboratory, where they were turned into nude statues and redressed in cabaret garb. When they are unfrozen, Dr. Frank has them all perform a cabaret show.
The cabaret show was suddenly interrupted by Riff Raff and Magenta declaring that they were actually aliens sent from Transsexual and proceeded to kill Columbia and Dr. Frank because he had failed his mission. Rocky was so distraught that he climbed to the top of the castle’s tower and jumped to his death. The film concludes by Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott being the only ones spared and are left to pick up and carry on. Charles Gray, the narrator of the film, ends by stating that the human race is equivalent to nothing more than insects, who are "lost in time, and lost in space... and meaning.”
The plot itself was beyond anything we had seen on the big screen before. It was like a train wreck though… we just couldn’t look away! Similarly, the costumes were so outrageous that audiences just marveled at them! Before long, The Rocky Horror Picture Show became synonymous with the Midnight Movie! Midnight showings were known to include the “anything goes” crowd and became quite popular. Audiences were so enthralled that they began attending the movie dressed “in costume” and began inserting themselves into the show. People would actually talk back to the picture screen and role play as if they were part of the cast. If you have ever attended a midnight showing of this film, you know exactly what I am talking about!
Interestingly, costumes from the film gained a lot of attention and contributed to the evolution of punk rock fashion. Punk rockers mimicked the outrageous trends like the unconventional makeup, mismatched clothing, ripped fishnet stockings and unusually styled and dyed hair. It was as if the counterculture was still alive and well!
In 2005, the film was chosen for preservation in the United States National Film Registry and is known as the longest running theatrical release in film history. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of those works that took on a life of its own. It boasted, and continues to boast, an international following. Almost 50 years later, the film is still well known and shown today. You can usually expect to find an airing somewhere around Halloween each year so keep your eyes and ears open if you want to catch a show soon!
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