Monday, August 9, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

“I hate Rocky Horror Picture Show. It's boil-in-the-bag perversion for sexually repressed accountants and first-year drama students with too many posters of Betty Blue, The Blues Brothers, Big Blue and Blue Velvet on their blue bloody walls.”

-Simon Pegg, Spaced-

Well... yes. But it’s still kind of fun isn’t it?

I’ve been to The Rocky Horrror Picture Show from between a dozen to fifteen times since my first encounter at seventeen...

(On the couch with the cancer stick and bad Crow makeup)

At the great Cedar Lee Theater in Cleveland (The best revival Theater to not have anyone paying attention to it). And I’d say scarcely half of them have been in actual theaters.

I’ve seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Rec Rooms, High School Multipurpose rooms, Outdoors, College Lecture Halls, Gymnasiums, Theaters (The Non movie kind with the film projected on a screen propped awkwardly on the stage).

Wherever there two or more gather in Franken Furter’s name there is Rocky. Save AA meetings, I don’t know of another social institution with the same sort of versatility of habitat. The same staggering indifference to its surroundings.

And the two are not so different institutions from one another. Both act primarily, if not solely as a place for those who feel afflicted to have somewhere to go and confide in others who are like them.

There are many things to wonder at the whole phenomenon. What strange Alchemy is it that has kept The Rocky Horror Picture Show going? Why did it strike a chord? Why are there not weekly screenings of Pink Flamingo’s or El Topo, or some other seventies relic? Why has it not fallen the way of Earth Shoes and Billy Beer? Whatever it is, here lies a movie that for all the bitching we cinephiles like to do about older films surviving in the cultural lexicon, has needed no aid from us. No, The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues serenely on like some unfathomable perpetual motion machine. Drawing crowds to remark “That only assholes draw on church doors.” for the 156,000th weekend in a Goddamn row.

The show I went to wasn’t the best. That doesn’t matter. It’ll be better next time. The theater does it every week and as the MC (whose Pre Show Spiel was easily the best part of the show) remarked “Its E_____! It’s Friday!! What the fuck else you gonna do!?!?!” It wasn’t that the cast weren’t game far from it. But they perform on a stage that’s on the level of the screen, meaning their lights bleach out the screen and the sound mix seemed off, meaning that they’re choreographed catcalls ended up drowning out the actual movie, to the point where the set ups for the punch lines couldn’t be heard. Most damningly they skipped “Late Night Double Feature Picture Show.” The films opener, in favor of an overly choreographed burlesque act set to unfathomable reasons Rob Zombie’s “Pussy Liquor”. And that’s just not done man. You don’t skip “Late Night Double Feature Picture Show” It’s the fucking heart and soul of it all.

But perhaps more so then any other work, the particulars are not important when it comes to Rocky Horror, the spirit is. At the show I was at, I watched as The Virgins got their pre show initiation, and as one of the cast celebrated his thousandth show (To which the MC replied, “That is Soooo Sad”) and a married couple in the cast celebrated their five hundreth performance, as well as their anniversary (“That is so sad.”).

So yes, perhaps the audience was filled with sexually repressed accountants, and first year drama students. Yes perhaps most of the cast and the audience was about fifty pounds above actually pulling off their costumes. Yes perhaps they cut off “The Late Night Double Feature Picture Show.”

It doesn’t matter. It was still a great time. Say what you will about Rocky Horror, but as long as it gives lonely people a place to go and feel good for awhile, I’m all for it. There's just something about going out to the late night (early morning) picture show. And then finding some people to go to Denny's with afterwards.


stonerphonic said...

Thank god for drugs & beer...

Thomas Duke said...

I originally saw this in a drive-in when I was 5 I think, but I was a bit disturbed by it and decided to go to sleep instead. I've always avoided doing the Midnight showing/Denny's deal, despite being invited, but I later grew to like the film, but I just find it too stage bound and I hate a couple of the songs. I actually prefer Shock Treatment, but no one discusses Shock Treatment at Denny's at 3 in the morning.

Emily said...

My favourite movie of all time ever.
Kudos for mentioning Spaced as well, such an underated TV show.
The "sequel" Shock Treatment is also awesome but it hasn't really stood the test of time like Rocky has.

The Film Connoisseur said...

Awesome freaking movie in my book, Ive seen it so many times I cant remember, and I'm sure Ill see a whole bunch more before I die...its just a fun movie to watch and sing along to thats all!

The tunes are just so freaking catchy!

Just dont bother with its unofficial sequel Shock Treatment. It reeks!

Neil Fulwood said...

I was sitting in a real ale pub a couple of months ago, enjoying a pint and good company, when a bunch of beefy guys dragged up to the nines and not giving a shit wandered in, looking for a pre-'Rocky Horror Show' drink (it was playing at a local theatre). The barman refused to serve them. They laughed at him, pouted magnificently and sashayed out as if they were too cool for the place anyway. They had my complete respect.

Darren said...

I must confess, I never really "got" the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Catchy tunes, but the film itself was just... I don't know?... trying a little too hard. But I make no defense of my taste in film.

@ Neil: great story

Simon said...

I watched it alone one lazy Sunday night, so I guess I didn't really get it.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Stonerphonic: Amen.

@ Thomas Duke: Not while sober anyway.

@ Emily: Yeah its funny I've never seen Shock Treatment. The "Last One In The Pool" was just a bit too effective.

@ FC: I'll be right there with you.

@ Neil: It's not Rocky if you don't risk a pounding. I remember once me and a group of friends took a short cut to a theater only to end up walking through the reception of an African American Wedding. We tried to leave as discretely as possible.

Which as ten or so skinny white teenagers either trannied or gothed out, was not easy.

@ Darren: "Trying To Hard" yeah I guess that's the litmis test now that I think about it. Either it seems natural, or it doesn't.

The audience definitely on occasion tries to hard.

@Simon: Not the way to do it no. Though I have done solo watches occasionally its just not the same.
The Onion did an infograph on its twenty fifth anniversary and the last option was "Watching it home alone. Realizing it sucks."

I do think a full bore show is an expirience every cinephile should have though. Simply because it's a truly unique cinematic expirience. And those should be valued where ever they are found.

Neil Fulwood said...

Bryce, your wedding reception encounter sounds, how shall I put it?, interesting. In full goth/tranny regalia, there's really no way of making a quiet exit is there?

I remember the first time I watched the film with my wife (at that time still my girlfriend) - it was already a favourite of hers - and laughing uncontrollably when Tim Curry made his entrance and she declared vehemently, "The bastard! He's got better legs than me!"

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Neil: Yeah it was... Tense.

And not to worry, Tim Curry has better legs then aloooottt of people.

Anonymous said...,18137/

Bryce Wilson said...

I got a chuckle out of that.

But I prefer this one:,7717/