The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

A mental mindf*** can be nice.
--Dr. Frank-N-Furter

I love October. I don't know what it is about it, but it has come to be one of my favorite months of the year. Maybe because you know it's officially fall, but it isn't too cold outside to actually enjoy it. Maybe because by the time it rolls around, football season is in full swing, and basketball season's not too far away.

But I think that a lot of it has to do with that most wonderful time of the year which we lovingly refer to as HALLOWEEN. I love Halloween. As a kid you go door-to-door every year for free candy, but for adults there's scary movies on TV, the occasional costume party, and the perennial excuse to eat as much candy as you please.

Plus it's the only holiday stopping all the big box stores from putting up their Christmas decorations in September.

And as a special Halloween treat, we're going to look at a movie you probably dressed up to see last night. And I ain't talking formal wear.

Known as The Rocky Horror Show when the original musical debuted in London's Theater Upstairs in 1973, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was conceived by its author Richard O'Brien and director Jim Sharman, who also served as screenwriters. It initially came out to empty movie theaters during afternoon and early evening screenings, but eventually found an audience via midnight showtimes and word of mouth. The film boasts the longest theatrical run in motion picture history and has gained a tremendous cult following to the point that midnight moviegoers dress as characters from it and bring special props. Fox STILL hasn't pulled the film since it first went to theaters. It is that huge.

After the pair of lips from the movie poster sings about old sci-fi movies during the opening credits, we cut to a chapel where we find our hero and heroine, a pair of dullards by the names of Brad and Janet (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick, not respectively) who no sooner come out of a friend's wedding than Brad musically confesses that dammit, Janet, he loves her. Then we see an expert criminologist (two-time James Bond actor and one-time Blofeld Charles Gray) who would like, if he may, to take us on a strange journey...

Cut to the dead of night, where the pair, now engaged, are driving through some deep dark woods in the middle of a rainstorm, with President Nixon's resignation speech playing over the radio. When their car has a blowout and with an unusable spare tire, they hike through the downpour to the gates of a castle and find a light over at the Frankenstein place. At the door, they are greeted by the castle handyman Riff Raff (played by O'Brien) and domestic Magenta (Patricia Quinn) who invites them inside, and they're in luck: the Master is throwing a party tonight...which takes us face-first into the film's signature tune, "The Time Warp", as performed by a menagerie of fancy-dressed but otherwise freaky people.

Janet considers leaving when our master of ceremonies finally arrives - Dr. Frank-N-Furter (played by a quite flamboyant Tim Curry in his film debut), a Frankensteinesque mad scientist but otherwise just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania (wait, so is there a section of Transylvania where the drag queens hang out?) The good doctor invites them upstairs to his laboratory, where he shows everybody his latest creation: claiming to have discovered the "secret to life", he giddily presents a mummified body floating in an aquarium which he brings to life right in front of his audience. His creation, Rocky Horror as he is christened (Peter Hinwood) runs around the lab singing, and despite an interruption by Meatloaf riding around on a motorcycle wondering whatever happened to Saturday night which is swiftly quelled with a pickax, Frank is quite, erm...excited, to say the least.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate rooms for the night, where Frank pays them both a...very special visit. Then Janet wanders up to the laboratory and finds Rocky, whom she proceeds to pay...a very special visit. All of this does not go unseen by Riff Raff, Magenta and groupie/tap dancer Columbia (a squeaky-voiced "Little Nell" Campbell). A third visitor comes to the castle, rival scientist Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams), Brad and Janet's old science teacher. He's looking for his nephew, ex-delivery boy and Rocky's partial brain benefactor Eddie (Meatloaf, his bloody corpse lying in a deep-freeze chamber with pickax holes in him). Then Janet and Rocky are found naked in his birth tank.

This makes for a very awkward dinner...especially when they find out they've been eating over Eddie's decorated corpse.

She would do anything for love...yes, even that.

After a chase scene and some petrification, we come to the floor show, where everyone is dressed in French undergarments and forced to perform cabaret with Frank. Riff Raff and Magenta interrupt the proceeding dressed in flashy comic book supervillain costumes and announce their return to their home planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania (oh, so THAT'S what he meant, I didn't think this film took place anywhere NEAR Transylvania)...THEIR return, not Frank's, who ironically has just sang about going back home. They then shoot Columbia, Frank and Rocky with a trident anti-matter laser gun before making the entire castle lift off the ground and into space. Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott are left crawling on the ground to sing one last song, the last verse of which is provided by the criminologist as he turns the lights out and exits.

Good grief, these fans are hardcore.

Rocky Horror Picture Show is an eccentric and highly sexualized salute to 1950s sci-fi and horror films with catchy songs and crazy characters. Fueling this energy are the maddening performances of the effeminate Tim Curry as well as Richard O'Brien, whose sly alternating between sounding like a deranged Igor and screaming at the top of his lungs makes Riff Raff my favorite character in the entire movie.

It is all these things and more which has given it the cult status it so deserves, why movie theaters still play it thirty-five years after it came out, why the fans dress up in the Frank and Rocky get-ups, bring props to throw at each other during certain scenes, dance the Time Warp, sing the songs and reenact scenes from it in Fox sitcoms.

Just one of those things that you could only see happening in the month of October.

Err, you got some broccoli between your teeth there...

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