Retro-View: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The first time I encountered “The Rocky Horror Show” was around 1975, lost in the record section of Sears or Penney’s, flipping through soundtracks as was my young wont. I was alternately intrigued and frightened by the garish cover of the original stage album seen left. It scared me the way glam rock scared me, the way David Bowie’s Man Who Fell To Earth alien persona startled me or Alice Cooper freaked me out with his classic ’73 TV special WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE featuring Vincent Price. And the way I was disturbed by images of Beef from Brian De Palma’s PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974), the film that should have been THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, but wasn’t — even though they came from the same studio within a year of each other and even share a spiritual star in Jessica Harper, who would go on to appear in the unfairly maligned sequel, SHOCK TREATMENT (1981). While PHANTOM has its own cult, I’m in neutral. I dig the stylish gothic humor of the film and the manic energy De Palma brings out in his cast, particularly Gerrit Graham as Beef, who no longer scared me after I finally saw his hilarious portrayal of the fey horror rawk star. Although I’m a Paul Williams fan, I’m not particularly engaged by the film’s music, yet I do think Williams is terrific as the devilish Swann. And one of the ’70’s most fantastic movie images has to be The Phantom throwing an electric lightning bolt at Beef, electrocuting him on stage. There’s much to admire in POTP and it’s certainly the yin to TRHPS yang; talk about the perfect science fiction double-feature…But at the time, I had no idea what this Rocky Horror Show thing was about.

The second time I encountered Rocky Horror was in a perfect 1976 issue of Cinefantastique, (the New Yorker of American genre magazines) volume 5, number 2, with a cover story on LOGAN’S RUN (and an amazing, apropos take-down of the film to boot that would not be written today). In one of CFQ’s typically in-depth reviews, I saw my first images of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW and Ross Care, the reviewer, called it a “…psychedelic Hammer film,” still the best description I’ve ever heard. Care obviously gets Richard O’Brien’s B-movie template (only a true geek could have written this musical) and neatly sums up everything right about the movie. Given that the review was published long before the cult began, it’s prescient in his attempt to explain the pleasures of the film:

“Trying to write about Richard O’Brien’s THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW is like trying to describe a lava-lamp: it’s fascinating, amorphous, tacky and ultimate impossible to get a bead because as soon as you change your angle of approach, it appears to be something different. But if you can imagine a weird absurdist concoction, brewed up from equal parts of ’30’s Universal and RKO horror movies, ’50 science fiction films and rock ‘n’ roll, spiced with a liberal dash of The Joy of Sex propagandizing…For those receptive to cultish charms, TRHPS can be a very special experience and one so well-realized it is almost impossible to appreciate all its assets in one viewing.

Cut to 1980 and I’m walking with my elementary school troops under the tunnel from Old Sacramento to the Showcase Cinema, an archetypal repertory theater that of course was the city’s home for the Saturday midnight screening of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. I was a classic “virgin” and all that implies for the film and I was risibly excited, plus a little buzzed from the passing of beer and smoke. I was the paranoid of the group, always on the lookout for parents or police, and I was a little apprehensive about my first ever midnight movie screening. The late 70’s/early 80’s was the apex of Friday/Saturday midnight cult films, and on any given week you could choose from a few local theaters or drive-ins to see DAWN OF THE DEAD; EL TOPO; THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME; ENTER THE DRAGON; PINK FLAMINGOS; WIZARDS; ERASERHEAD; etc.

But TRHPS is the still the king and queen of the witching hour screenings, with the audience also becoming part of the show. After the film stiffed in general release, Tim Deegan, a 20th Century Fox marketing maven, wisely noted the returning patrons and started midnight shows to accomodate all the freaks who would come out at night, dressed up as their favorite character, singing along, throwing things at the screen and shouting out comments to every scene. In those days, the studios had more leeway to open films in a unique, limited manner to help find and build-up an audience. Novel idea. Here’s the fun original trailer and a rare clip from the old Tom Synder show analyzing the film’s popularity in the wake of STAR WARS. And yes, wasn’t that a time. It sure was that Saturday night as we joined the line of outrageously costumed revelers. Boys and girls in white lingerie, bald wigs and fishnet stockings. I never felt more like a virgin.

The theater air was thick with smoke (in a world where you could) and antici…pation. I was aware that I wouldn’t be “seeing” the film without the audience antics, but I hoped I would be able to get a sense of the movie without the performers. Fortunately, the Showcase screen was a biggie and the audience didn’t block out key portions of the images as I feared. The crowd chanted “lips, lips, lips” in a rhythmic chorus then exploded into wild applause when the tinny burlesque version of the 20th Century Fox fanfare sounded. Suddenly, the crowd roared again as the theater is almost swallowed by the close-up of those famous red lips crooning “Science Fiction Double Feature,” the wistful and lovely sonic ode to the genre. The singing lips tell you right away that this will be a bizzaro fucking film. I can imagine an uninformed audience perplexed in the local theater on opening day, wondering what the hell this thing was about. Basically, the story is about Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, two engaged, repressed All-Americans from the town of Denton, USA, who end up with a flat tire and a one-way ticket to a foreboding castle, the Earthly portal to Transexual, Transylvania and discover a mad sexual scientist…but with song and dance.

Of course, I love musicals. I’ve never understood how some say they can’t get into them because people just start singing. Well, yes, but if you can accept a universe of space aliens in a space war, folks breaking into spontaneous song and verse seems palatable. For the record, my top favorites are SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952); WEST SIDE STORY (1960); HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS WITHOUT REALLY TRYING (1967); and yes, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. One obvious key to the film’s continued success is simply that it is a great musical. O’Brien wrote outstanding, engaging songs, each incorporating a mash-up of baroque rock and kitsch sensibility. Leave it to an Englishman to perfectly capture the lyrical iconography of the repressive 1950’s coca-cola, rock-n-rolla, comic book, sci-fi monster era. That ironic yet loving genre pastiche is exactly what PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE lacks. I think almost every tune is terrific and each serves to propel the story and theme forward. For example, Brad’s opening salvo at a marriage proposal, “Dammit Janet” is apropos for Barry Bostwick’s square interpretation and it was wicked clever to have Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell and Tim Curry as the church staff and chorus. It’s so subtle you would never know they all show up in major roles unless you became a repeat viewer.

For reasons not difficult to grasp or incomprehensible to fathom, “The Time Warp” is my personal favorite musical number of all time next to “America” from WEST SIDE STORY. It has one of the catchiest choruses ever and the song exports all the film’s strange charm and energy into this show-stopper among show-stoppers. I still get chills when Richard O’Brian as Riff-Raff wails out “…like you’re under SEDATION!” I’m also entranced by Magenta’s orgasmic voice pleading for “Oh fantasy free me!” as she beckons Brad and Janet to follow her. There’s something about that moment, with the music cresting and her body gliding, that really pulls the audience into the film, promising them an eternity of Saturday Night decadence where you can be who you want to be forever, the pop psychology paradigm of the 70’s. It’s that liberated sensibility that transcended era or style to make RHPS the cultural phenom it remains.

Jim Sharman’s inexperience as a film director serves him well here, as the staged numbers are more raw and naturalistic. I’ll be bold and say that Sharman is an inspired director, having Brad and Janet step backward out of the room smiling at the “rich weirdos” during “The Time Warp.” He subtly shows the rivalry of the characters like when Columbia stumbles during her joyous tap-dance and she trades a sharp glare with Magenta. Sharman has fun with the staging, and since he knows the show intimately, he’s successful more often than not. It’s hard to believe the pauses for audience comments weren’t intentional as they fit so well. I love it when Brad says, “Didn’t we pass a castle back there on the road a few miles?” and the audience cheers over Janet’s unsure face.

TRHPS has lots of dark humor, a very 70’s ragged stylization that makes this one of few good musicals of the era (only CABARET can beat out TRHPS). It’s not overtly political, except for Nixon’s resignation speech on the car radio, another nice touch that. Even the sets by Terry Ackland-Snow (BATMAN; ALIENS; THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS) are a witty amalgamation of pop gothic burlesque design, especially the amazing “floor show” backdrop of the classic RKO Pictures globe and tower — it doesn’t get more meta than that. In his CFQ review, Ross Care aptly called this “the best film Ken Russell never made.” Although I do find the climax of the film a little too sad and incomplete; Brad and Janet should end up in each other’s arms as they struggle on the ground, and the downbeat ending goes against the grain of “Don’t dream it…be it.”

As for the cast, they all stand out in their own special way, with each acting as a surrogate for the active audience. In another decade, Tim Curry would have nailed a Best Actor nomination for his dynamic, utterly singular performance as the sweet transvestite scientist. A hybrid of Mick Jagger, Mae West and Curry’s own theatrical charisma, his Frank N. Furter is one of the most unique creations in the history of musical film and theater. His face changes emotion every few seconds, from bitch to bravado to petulance to beyond. What a moment in his classic introductory number when he throws a cup of water at the camera and sings conspiratorially to the audience, “Well you got caught with a flat/Well how about that?” Okay, I’ll try to be straight: he’s the only dude I’ve ever thought sexy. Period. Without Curry, I can’t conceive of there even being a film, much less a cult. I always find it funny to watch his bemusement when asked about the film years later. He still seems mystified by the response. Or perhaps waaaay over it. But props to Ridley Scott for understanding that Tim Curry had the vocal, emotional power to become the greatest cinematic devil for his underrated LEGEND (1985).

Dominated by Curry’s sexually transgressive persona, this is one of the few musicals with a decidedly erotic bent; just watch Susan Sarandon’s dirty little number ,”Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me.” Hot stuff. Bostwick is the perfect Brad Majors (“Asshole”) and Meat Loaf’s Eddie the archetypal 50’s greaser. Plus he can sing lyrics that you can not because of their tight phrasing. Nell Campbell is darling as Columbia, the tap-dancing groupie and Eddie’s former lover. Plus, Quinn and O’Brien are a deviant delight as the brother/sister couple, especially at the end in their glam FLASH GORDON MEETS THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN garb. As The Criminologist (aka The Man Without a Fucking Neck), Charles Gray, veteran of Hammer and James Bond, brings ironic weight to his pretentious role and he’s a heady hoot. Especially when he does “The Time Warp.”

After the screening I recall walking back liberated under the Old Sac tunnel, feeling like I had reached a cinematic rite of passage; I loved the film and went back about 5 times in the next couple years. My sister discovered the film with her friends and we wore out the turntable playing the soundtrack. On a tech note, I’ve been fascinated by the music mix in the film as it often sounds as if the cast is actually singing in the room. The orchestrations are mixed different than on the available soundtrack but I’ve never heard others comment on this sound oddity. I was just happy there was a photo on the back cover of Sarandon being groped by Rocky. I also learned the shout-out lines tho I rarely shouted out until I discovered my very own line which I’ll share with you all now. During “Hot Patootie” when Meat Loaf roars “Whatever happened to cosmic light/Came into my life, I thought I was divine…” you can insert the word “Christian” right in there. Nobody else will get it. But it’s in the spirit of the show. I even bought the Roxy stage version LP, finally coming full circle to that once-scary album cover.

If you want a real understanding of how transformative the TRHPS experience could be, just watch the scene from FAME (1980) featuring the ultimate fan Sal Piro and the Waverly Theater group that helped propel the cult movement across the nation. Although I didn’t end up dancing with my shirt off in the aisles that night, I could have if I wanted and it woulda been fine. I enjoyed watching others respond to the film and music. My own friends with me that night were metalheads who read comics, played Dungeons & Dragons, painted miniature lead figures, smoked weed, drank Cold Duck, got to third base and could kick ass if need be. And they were secure enough to hang with one of the gayest movies ever made. We were like the Marvel Comics version of a Gus Van Sant film.

Although the film only cost 1.5 million dollars, it’s made over 150 million since its release, and is still going strong at theaters across the country. If you’ve never seen this with a regular cast of players, you’re missing out on one of the 20th century’s most unique cultural events. GO. At least you can say you did and have an opine. As Frank N. Furter sings, “Dig it — if you can.” There’s something elegiac about the film, its nostalgia for a simple, repressed drive-in movie era combined with a libertine’s passion for excess. And when civilization falls, you can bet somewhere as the weekend clock tolls at midnight that THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW will be playing and they’ll be doing the Time Warp again and again…I wanna go…to the late nite, double feature, picture show…

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25 Responses to “Retro-View: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)”

  1. OF COURSE ROCKY HORROR is one of my favourite musicals. EVER.

    How could it not be? I’m the original cat on a hot tin roof.

    Ring a ding ding…

    I own this film and the soundtrack. Plus I did attend a midnight show in all of its splendid and magnificent decadence.

    It was the bomb…

    Christian, what you wrote was astonishing in its sheer beauty and supreme evocativeness. I told you before that you were brilliant. This makes it even more obvious.

    Ah, my glorious misspent youth. It’s responsible for making me the lionhearted girl that I am today….

  2. Thank you thank you. How did I know you were an original Frankie Fan?

    Where did you see it? Did you come in costume? Did you dance the Time Warp?

  3. jhstrega7 Says:

    The world still hasn’t caught up to Frank N. Furter. I second everything you said above. This was a phenomenal post, CD!

  4. I’ve been friends with Christian since we were 8 years old. Unfortunately, I didn’t hang with the exact same crowd so I didn’t end up seeing the movie with him – I had to experience it vicariously through my step-sister who was nuts about it and went to the midnight showings, complete with umbrella.

    Christian: Never forget Dumbshit Melvin! LOL. I have it digitized, btw. :)

  5. Holy shit, must see Dumbshit Melvin – I have a few on video still….

    I’m sure if you had gone with us you woulda dressed up like Frank, John.

  6. Interesting, very interesting insight into your supposed insight of me. Very insightful, in an interesting way.

    So……you should answer your emails. The ones that i write you. :)

  7. Insight yet interesting.

  8. This is what I get for attempting to be circumspect and discreet, my darling blue eyed boy.

    After you’ve finished this little dissertation: REMEMBER. YOU ASKED ME.

    Be careful what you wish for and all that jazz…

    I know that other people will be reading this. Plus I don’t want to write a book. But this will likely go long.

    Anyway…

    I saw ROCKY HORROR at midnight only once (unfortunately) about ten years ago in my home town – when I was just a teenager. But this is one of the odd things about it. I can’t remember where…and I was stone cold sober that night. As I have been every night of my life. Drinking to excess is singularly unappealing and there are far too many boys that would take advantage of my stunning generosity.

    I live out in the suburbs (have generally no matter where I was living or with whom) and have done most of my major moviegoing downtown. But we went to a theatre that was totally unfamiliar in a neighbourhood that I’d never been in. ROCKY HORROR played almost nonstop at a theatre called the RIDGE from some time in the 80s until the late 90s. AT LEAST. But I’ve been to the RIDGE…and it definitely wasn’t there.

    I keep detailed lists of EVERY SINGLE first run release I’ve ever seen since I became a dedicated filmgoer. (But of course RH isn’t one of those.)

    I honestly can’t recall where it was. I can only assume it was in one of those little out of the way houses that spring up in every large metropolis that open and close regularly every few years.

    Every big English speaking city seems to have a street named Broadway that’s a main thoroughfare. We’re in possession of one as well. There used to be a lot of movie theatres that came and went rapidly in that corridor on the east side of town.

    I can only assume that that’s what happened. The reason I don’t remember is because I saw it at some hole in the wall that was there for some magical moment in time and it no longer exists any more. Otherwise I would know.

    Hell, we don’t have THAT MANY movie theatres for a bustling metropolis of 2,000,000…

    Appearing in costume is not something I would EVER do. I love those characters. Have an enormous affection for all of them. But I honestly can’t RELATE to any of them. JANET is the most normal woman in the whole scenario and she’s nothing like me.

    You are talking to a Capricorn with Leo rising. (As you well know.) It’s about all dignity and respect and making a movie star entrance. So I could’ve shown up in a Balenciaga ball gown. Or worn something by CAROLINA HERRERA or NARCISO RODRIGUEZ.

    The circumstances under which I attended didn’t warrant wearing a costume. But I’m getting to that. Don’t be impatient.

    I must assure you that I’m not at all tight. In any sense of that word. I have quite the wild imagination (um, yeah…) and I can be a lot of fun in private. But private is the operative word here.

    I have always been interested in dance. BUT I DO NOT DANCE. EVER.

    When people have gawked at you EVERY DAY OF YOUR PRECIOUS EXISTENCE (24/7 since I was 14 – FROM TOP TO BOTTOM) it makes you reluctant to do anything that would attract further attention.

    I can certainly move. BELIEVE ME. I’ve also seen women with my body type that were awesome dancers. (ANN MARGRET and CATHERINE ZETA JONES immediately come to mind.)

    But, as the goddess AMY says, No, no, NO….

    Private is an entirely different matter. You can get me to do ALMOST anything if you beg me hard enough…and bring me chocolate.

    But I digress….

    So how did I luck into this magnificent evening?

    Well, my best friend at the time (*rolls emerald green eyes*) was going out for the first time with this guy and she was very uncomfortable about being alone with him. So he had this friend who was trying to make it a foursome.

    Same old story going back years. At that point, I was newly broken up with someone, spending time with yet another ex and trying to figure out who was I destined to be with. This has been going on A LONG TIME.

    My parents used to just shake their heads. My mama in particular. But it’s my life, boys and girls…

    So Debra called me up and asked me if I would be willing to spend Saturday night having dinner with this guy and then go to see RH afterwards. I was eager to see RH. At that point I hadn’t. I figured if the evening was a bust, so what? I didn’t have to say much and then I could go home.

    Otherwise I likely would’ve spent Saturday night at Matt’s place (that’s the ex), eating Szechuan on the living room floor and burning the house down.

    Well, I could do that any time. RH, on the other hand, was sort of a once in a lifetime endevour…

    My parents had thought a lot of Debra initially. But considering her behaviour with me over the course of two years she had long worn out her welcome with them. My dad was thoroughly disgusted with her. My mama said that she was a manipulative user that could not be trusted. “Drop this broad. On her head.”

    We had been very close for a long time. I was young – and far too nice. But Debra went over the line that night and that was the beginning of the end for me. This is one of the reasons why I hold everybody to a certain standard these days.

    When the pluses outweigh the minuses, everything’s dandy. When the minuses take over, I’m gone. Sometimes I don’t even take questions from the floor. I just split.

    THE END.

    So the boys arrived at my house with her. They were both very nice. Total gentlemen. Despite my sincere protests, they paid for everything. We went out to dinner at THE BOATHOUSE. (Now that I remember.)

    She started a wicked argument in the ladies room with me at dinner. I can recall that part like it was yesterday.

    After she spoke that way to me, I thought, YOU’RE OVER. YOU ARE GOING DOWN.

    It took every inch of my self control (which is fairly modest at any point) NOT to spoil everyone’s good time. The boys had tried so hard and they were really intent on being sweet and making it a memorable evening for us. BUT I WAS WHITE HOT. I was so furious that I couldn’t chance it. I knew that if I said one word to her that I would take it to the wall and that there would be no prisoners left. So I avoided her for the rest of the night and was eminently charming.

    It was the best performance I ever gave outside of a bedroom.

    And the nominees for Best Actress are…

    So we’re walking around town after dinner. Jeff’s adorable and we really hit it off. I could tell by the way he looked at me that he thought he had really lucked out. So we’re yakking away and I THINK things are going rather well. All of a sudden he makes a remark and he mentions something about his GIRLFRIEND. So I continue talking, thinking there must be some mistake. Maybe he means an EX girlfriend.

    BUT NO….

    A few minutes later he casually mentions that he’s engaged. “But Debra told you, right?” “No. Actually, she didn’t.”

    Well, wouldn’t you know…?

    The poor guy was obviously conflicted. Her date Aaron and I were about the same age. Debra and Jeff were in their twenties. He explained that he had been going out with Alexa for about three years and that she kept pushing him for a commitment that he was obviously not ready for. Now that they were engaged she wanted to shack up. There was no stopping her.

    She was on a mission.

    So he began rationalizing it. He said, “Well, she’s engaged. But I’m not.” So I asked him point blank if he loved Alexa. He said that he did. So I told him that he had a lot to work out and that he’d better get going on that.

    I wasn’t upset with him at all. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing – and he was absolutely lovely. But my SO CALLED best friend on the other hand…

    So midnight came and we attended the flick. It was a fabulous experience but it wasn’t overly wild. The prevailing stereotype is that we’re quite polite north of the 49th. I think it was a combination of being laid back up here (people have a tendency to be – all that awesome natural beauty kind of makes one languorous) and the fact that it had all ready run for so many years that it wasn’t actually a big deal any more.

    I think there were a few people dressed up. Rice was thrown and people sang along. It was fantastic. But it wasn’t remotely extreme.

    So we all go over to Jeff’s after the movie. Aaron and Debra are in one room. Jeff and I are in the other.

    He asked me if I had had a good time. I said yeah. He told me he did as well.

    “Debra didn’t tell me that you were so beautiful.” “Well, you’re sweet.” (Debra doesn’t tell people LOTS OF THINGS was right on the tip of my tongue. BUT I SAID NOTHING.)

    “I really wish…” he started and then he stopped abruptly.

    I said, “Let’s not even go there. It was a great night. You shouldn’t even be here and you do owe someone else a hell of a lot more than this. So let’s just forget about it. Call Alexa tomorrow and talk to her about the stuff that’s bothering you. All right?”

    Poor Jeff. He seemed to feel better after that. Actually relieved.

    I did hear from him about a month later. She wouldn’t give him my phone number. But he had all ready been to the house so he knew my address and my family surname. We chatted on the phone a couple of times but I never saw him again.

    He appeared to be easing out of that relationship but I didn’t have the time or the patience to nurture something with a guy (however sweet) who really didn’t know what the hell he wanted. But Jeff was a good guy. I have nothing against him. If it wasn’t for him, I may never have seen a RH midnight extravaganza.

    As for her, when I had it out with her on the phone, this is what she said, “Miranda, you’re good looking and Jeff’s girlfriend is NOT. Aaron told me that they weren’t gettting along and she was trying to pressure him into a commitment that he didn’t want anyway. Why shouldn’t I set you two up? You likely would’ve been a much better match for him. Don’t try and tell me that you didn’t have a good time – AND THE GUYS PAID FOR EVERYTHING. So I think you have a hell of a lot of nerve complaining.”

    Once she had said that, I pulled out all the stops. I told her off so magnificently that she was rendered speechless. It never occurred to me that that could ever happen. After I said my piece, I slammed down the phone triumphantly (almost broke it in two) and THAT (as they say) was THAT.

    “Good riddance,” my mama said. She was absolutely right.

    It amuses me (looking back) that I was so high minded. Though I would’ve done EXACTLY the same thing (in that particular situation) today.

    There have been a few times where I ended up in a number of playgrounds that I really should’ve stayed out of. But sometimes it simply can’t be avoided. You see that fire ahead and instead of going around it you jump right into it and roll around.

    LUXURIOUSLY….

    On a hot summer night, would you offer your throat to the wolf with the red roses?

    OH, GOD YES. WHERE IS HE…?

    But that’s another story…..

  9. “Of course, I love musicals. I’ve never understood how some say they can’t get into them because people just start singing. Well, yes, but if you can accept a universe of space aliens in a space war, folks breaking into spontaneous song and verse seems palatable.”

    Amen, Christian. I’ve never understood many people’s bias against musicals in the least.

    One thing’s for sure, I suddenly need to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show again. Like, in the next 48 hours or else. Thanks a lot for this in-depth, multifaceted look.

  10. christian Says:

    Okay Alexander, you have plenty of time to get to Oakland to the Parkway for tonite’s midnight screening of RHPS. I can’t believe it’s not playing in San Fran anymore. Last time I saw it was at the University Theater in Berkeley. RIP.

    Miranda: Thank you much for THE REST OF THE STORY as Paul Harvey would say. Or as Frank N. Furter would toast, “To absent friends…”

  11. Yeah, RHPS is one of my favourite musicals of all time too, and that is a fine treatment you have there. I would freaking KILL to see it at a theatre.

  12. christian Says:

    You mean it’s not playing at a theater near you?

  13. I doubt it ever played at a theatre near me. South Africa sucks.

  14. The theatre experience was awesome, Christian. Lots of freaks singing with it and the real, live Transylvanian beauty with me made it even better. :-)

    Head, now has songs stuck in it.

  15. Isn’t RHPS banned in South Africa? Get thee gone Nick!

    Glad you went Alexander. Glad you had a Transylvanian to do the Time Warp with…

  16. Wow, I’m late to the show here. Wonderful piece Christian. It’s funny you mention PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, because I prefer that, and am actually a little more neutral on this one (I think you and I, as we’ve established, just aren’t gonna be simpatico on De Palma). My favorite moment is the Meat Loaf song, and Tim Curry is absolutely wonderful. I never understood with this, and with his classic performance in LEGEND, why things didn’t go further.

  17. christian Says:

    Thanks. I wish I liked POTP more, but I think lotsa scenes just don’t work or are unintentionally funny in a way RHPS almost can’t be. William’s songs are sometimes lovely but go on a loooong time to all these montages. Finlay is such a broad character that he’s not engaging until he becomes the Phantom, one of the greatest costume designs in film. And DePalma is such a powerful director that his own unrelated themes get in the way whereas RHPS is self-contained. But they are the perfect double feature.

    I also have a theory that movies about fake bands never work, UNTITLED and SPINAL TAP being exceptions. Fox had high hopes for PHANTOM…

  18. Sam Juliano Says:

    Wonderful, passionate and infectious treatment of iconic midnight staple. I dare say I’ve attended it twice in my life, and the memories are much on the same page as your terrific treatment.
    I also am a musical lover, but I’ll save that consideration for another thread.
    In recent years in Manhattan, Robert Alrich’s cult fave, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? has become another midnight fave, with many in the audience screeming out the film’s most memorable lines. A drag queen named “Hedda Lettuce” has been the moderator. My wife and I attended this twice over the past two years with a close gay friend. It was quite the event.

  19. christian Says:

    Thanks for stopping by to do the Time Warp, Sam.

    I can see WHTBJ being a midnight show. The ultimate bitch fest…

    But SKIDOO should be playing at midnight too…

  20. […] from THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. For a more in-depth examination of the ultimate midnight movie, here’s my Retro-View for TRHPS. As for this particular version of “Science Fiction Double Feature,” this was the […]

  21. […] 5 (never understood the need to volumize the magazine) are Ross Care’s prescient take on THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (“The whole thing simply screams, ‘Cult!’”) to the merciless take-down of […]

  22. psicologos salamanca…

    […]Retro-View: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) « Technicolor Dreams 70[…]…

  23. here…

    […]Retro-View: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) « Technicolor Dreams 70[…]…

  24. […] 5 (never understood the need to volumize the magazine) are Ross Care’s prescient take on THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (“The whole thing simply screams, ‘Cult!’”) to the merciless take-down of […]

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