Once upon a time (in the 1970’s), a cultural movie revolution was born. Brash. Disrespectful. Hilarious. Distasteful. Almost Pornographic (for the time). All of that and more filled the screens of the local movie theaters, courtesy of the country that brought us Monty Python. May I introduce to you;
The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
My friends and I were fourteen, which meant the theater might have enforced the “Strictly Prohibited” policy. Ever the adventurous, we went for it anyway. And we got in! That wouldn’t happen today. It was another time and place.
Anyway, we had no idea what we were in for. Then, from the giant, red, luscious lips that began the movie, all the way to the lift-off of the castle, I was mesmerized. The first time Tim Curry graced the screen in a black lace-up corset and shiny black patent leather pumps, all the while telling us he’s a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania, my head swam. I decided it was from pure glee at watching something so restricted. So damn cool. In 1975, when my RHPS virginity was first taken, I could sympathize with Janet. Feeling Done In. By the last time I watched it, my loyalties had switched to Frank-N-Furter, and seeing his Blue Skies Through the Tears.
There are a couple of scenes that still stand out for me to this day.
Of course, the Time Warp. Yes, it was fun, fabulous and hysterical. But not the only fun memory. We regulars packed an entire BAG of props to carry into the theater. BTW, that would never be allowed today. Again, another time/place.
During the movie, we threw the contents of that bag all over the place. Mind you, in synchronized, audience participation, order. There were spray bottles for rain, newspapers for cover, toast, toilet paper, playing cards, and a lot more. It never crossed my mind that there were people afterward who had to clean up eighty rolls of toilet paper thrown across every aisle. (My belated apologies.)
We cannot fail to mention the scripted responses we’d make at the dialog being performed on screen. (My favorite: Weissssss)
If you’re one of the denizens who have seen it, I have to ask. On your first viewing, did you notice the entire cast was in the opening scene with Brad and Janet at the church? I caught it the second time I saw it. Tim Curry as the Preacher was priceless!
Speaking of Preacher, do you suppose the blood-soaked, axe carrying, Frank-N-Furter might be the inspiration for a certain 2016 AMC series? Hmm…
Another fond memory: Riff-Raff opens the front door and eyes Brad. A chill still runs up my spine at how very well the actor playing Riff-Raff, Richard O’Brian, made that small gesture. Learning that he wrote the original script made it even better.
Then there were the sad moments. I still get a little choked up thinking of the tears Columbia shed, as she wept for her Eddie during the dinner hour.
We watched the movie at least sixty times. My friends and I stopped counting exactly how many times we’d seen it when we reached 36. Turned out that not everyone in Junior High cared about Tim Curry in heels. Their loss. He was fabulous before fabulous was a thing.
In later years, I think the ‘90’s, I went back to the theater and caught a midnight show for old times’ sake. What a disappointment. The movie was still the same of course, but the audience had become hostile, first calling out and then humiliating the virgins. The scripted responses were vulgar for the sake of being vulgar. A riotous sensation lurked at the edge of every costumed attendee, egging the violence that seethed just beneath the disenfranchised. I left midway, and haven’t been back.
Welcome to 2016.
The last time I saw it, one TV network did a special New Year’s Eve broadcast. Outside of my remembered responses to the dialog prompts, and recalling my friends from long ago, it was pretty boring to watch.
On a recent edition of For Geeks Sake podcast, I learned of the upcoming ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show TV Movie’ being offered by FOX Television.
Be still my heart! Rocky gets a new breath? I had to catch mine for a minute.
The show’s host, Al Sterling, seemed intrigued with the idea. But the producer, Dan Benoit, went on to suggest that the audience participation portions would be lost on new viewers, and he suggested an app that people could follow along on to help them keep up.
I had to chuckle. Let them learn by failing, Padawan.
Besides, apps being accessed on cell phones during the movie would be damn annoying.
That Tim Curry will be playing the part of the criminologist narrator, or No Neck, gave the nod to the old farts like me that this might not suck. Throwing Ben Vereen into the mix made it even more appealing. Then I looked over the new cast. I couldn’t object to any outright. They all looked perfect for their parts.
And the parts haven’t changed. From what I’ve read, they are using the original script written by Richard O’Brian. This is supposed to be a one-off made-for-TV movie. Unless, of course, it makes money. Then, well, we’ll have to do the series, won’t we? There is where I’ll hop off the fan wagon, I’m afraid. This movie does not lend itself well to TV, let alone to a series. That’s not saying it doesn’t hold a few promises…
The original role of Frank-N-Furter was played by Tim Curry, a white, British, rather thin male, with an AMAZINGLY talented voice. The remake will star Laverne Cox, a black, American, rather curve-atious female with an AMAZINGLY talented voice. You might know her as Sophia Burset from Orange is the New Black. The making of this movie explains her brief absence from the Netflix series quite well.
Best of luck, Fox. I sure hope you don’t blow this.