Movie Project #28: The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

The 50 Movies Project: 2013 Edition

In what has become an annual tradition, I have decided to embark in a third round of the 50 Movies Project. The premise is simple — I have put together a list of 50 movies that I feel I absolutely must see in order to continue my progression as a film lover. With so many films to see, it’s easy to get off track and forget about some of the essentials. This is my way of making sure I watch those that have been on my “must see” list for too long.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]
Director: Jim Sharman
Writer: Jim Sharman, Richard O’Brien
Country: UK/USA
Genre: Comedy/Musical
Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Peter Hinwood
Running Time: 100 minutes

Reason for inclusion: This is one of the most popular cult movies ever made.

Accolades: National Film Registry, one of the longest running midnight movies of all time

I wasn’t quite sure how to approach The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I knew that it needed to be seen live in order to get the full experience, but that would make writing a proper review impossible. In the end, I said screw it, and attended one of the midnight screenings held every month at my favorite movie theater, the Music Box.

Now, I am no stranger to cult flicks and midnight movies. I have seen The Room more times than I probably should, and have been to two different screenings with Tommy Wiseau and Greg Sestero in attendance. I even got dragged on stage to shake their hands once. Yet nothing compares to seeing Rocky Horror.

Since this plays every month, I wasn’t exactly expecting a large crowd. Surprisingly enough, there was a line out the door. Some of the actors from the live theater group set to perform during the film were waiting at the entrance, helpfully marking the cheeks of my girlfriend and I with the letter “V” — making it clear to everyone that we were Rocky Horror virgins.

I experienced a movie-going first while entering the theater: everyone was forced to be patted down for booze, weapons or anything else not allowed within. I don’t know if there have been problems with past screenings or what, but this shocked the hell out of me. A few poor souls lost a pint or two — I envy whoever gets to keep these pieces of contraband afterward.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

Now, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect with the theatrical experience. I knew there would be lots of shouting and throwing stuff in the air, but what I didn’t expect was a big dance party with an actual DJ beforehand. This wasn’t just a movie screening or a live play — this was a goddamn party.

Once the music ended, the “virgins” were brought to the front and made fun of. Thankfully I wasn’t selected to participate in their opening game — four unlucky patrons were given the option of either faking an orgasm using a celebrity voice or to change an adult baby’s diaper. Yeahhhhh… It only got weirder from there.

Roughly 45 minutes after midnight, the film actually began. I tried my best to pay attention to the dialogue and listen to the song lyrics, but eventually I realized that was a lost cause. With the ongoing theatrics from the local performers, many of whom were running through the aisles, it was far easier to just sit back and enjoy the festivities.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

Between the shouting and live performances, I was still able to piece together the gist of the largely nonsensical plot. A newly engaged couple, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (a sizzling Susan Sarandon), find themselves lost and get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. They eventually stumble upon a nearby castle, where they meet Dr. Frank N Furter (Tim Curry), a self-titled “sweet transvestite” from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania. He is accompanied by a number of bizarre servants, and all hell breaks loose when his creation, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood), is brought to life.

Much singing and cross-dressing commences, with characters constantly being stripped down and dancing in their underwear. The only musical number that I was familiar with was “The Time Warp”, and that turned the theater into an even bigger dance party.

I still don’t know what to make of The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a film. I enjoyed the theatrical experience, but I have to admit that I have no desire to watch it again. I can certainly understand the cult appeal, and I’m glad I was able to kick this off my movie “bucket list”, but I’m not sure the scene is really for me. Consider this an interesting and memorable experience, but not a favorite of mine.

26 thoughts on “Movie Project #28: The Rocky Horror Picture Show [1975]

  1. le0pard13 says:

    The original stage play (yeah, theatrical alright) was right here in L.A. at the Roxy Theatre on Sunset Blvd. I never did get a chance to see it there (though it played for many months), but certainly heard from my friends who did. After its initial first run, this movie played at midnight screenings at the Nuart Theater for many, many years. They still resurrect it there from time-to-time. Fine look at a true cult classic, Eric.

  2. Chris says:

    Those performers running through the aisles sound a bit distracting while watching the movie, but I guess it adds to the midnight movie experience.
    I know I felt as uncomfortable as the two visitors at the mysterious castle. I’m scared of Tim Curry 🙂 He also freaked me out as Pennywise in Stephen King’s It (1990)
    Like you, not a film I wish to rewatch, but I appreciate how original and full of energy it is, and I’m glad I finally crossed it off the list.

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Yeah, the live theater stuff was distracting but I’m glad I saw it that way. I think seeing it in a theater only enhances the film; I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it much otherwise.

      And that’s funny about Tim Curry. I haven’t seen It, but he is a frightening guy 😀

  3. The Focused Filmographer says:

    I’ve never watched this. as a matter of fact, the closest I have gotten to seeing this is Perks of Being a Wallflower. haha. Doesn’t seem to be my cup of tea, but maybe one day I’ll get around to it.

    I’d much rather though watch Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire.

  4. jackdeth72 says:

    Hi, Eric:

    ‘Rocky Horror’ is one of those films you need to see in a crowd of more like minded people.

    Not really a fan. Though I did enjoy Riff Raff (Richard O’ Brien. The play’s creator.) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and several of the film’s tunes.

  5. The Heretic says:

    I liked this movie, but after running sound for a “production” caused me to end up hating it after a while. Made the mistake of watching the sequel (Ugh!), the only good actor in it was Rik Mayall (The Young Ones, Drop Dead Fred). Although neither can be as putrid as “Phantom of the Paradise”.

  6. Morgan R. Lewis says:

    Glad you had a fun, if confusing, time. I’ve heard the stories of the midnight movie experiences with this film. Never seen it, never gone to the productions even though I’ve had the opportunity (I think it runs once a year at the UO film club). Frankly, while I get that the audience participation is a large part of its cult status, I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy the film fully if that were my first exposure to it — and I don’t think I’d enjoy the audience participation if I didn’t already know the film. (Also, given that I’m allergic to half of everything, there’s no way in hell I’m letting somebody brand me with a “V” from some unknown cosmetic.)

    • Eric @ The Warning Sign says:

      Heh, you have a valid point about the “V” marking. Immediately after they did that to my girlfriend and I, we looked at each other and asked “why the hell did we let them do that?” It ended up being alright though.

      I get where you’re coming from about not wanting the live show to be your first exposure. I felt the same way about THE ROOM, but I ended up having a blast and immediately watched the DVD after so I could hear *all* of the nonsensical dialogue. Now I’m hooked and have been to multiple screenings of that one.

      Can’t say I’ll do the same for Rocky Horror though — it’s a little too far out there, even for myself.

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