“I, Robert Sabetto,
To the lips
Of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
And to the decadence
For which it stands
One movie, under Richard O’Brien
With sensuous daydreams, erotic nightmares, and sins of the flesh for all.”
—The Rocky Pledge of Allegiance
Through high school and into college, a sure bet on a Saturday night was that two films would be playing at midnight: Pink Floyd’s The Wall and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Every. Damned. Weekend. In the case of Rocky Horror, it’s no wonder: dressing up, shouting at the screen, throwing shit around the theater, and acting and singing along to the movie is more fun than a burlesque science fiction gothic drag hoedown—essentially what it was. At some point during the ’90s, it stopped. I couldn’t resist catching Rocky Horror again with a group of friends when it played at a theater near me.
A movie version of Riff-Raff/Richard O’Brien’s stage musical, the story is silly—stupid, even: a newlywed couple, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), are forced off the road during a rainstorm. I love that Janet reads The Plain Dealer in the car. Anyway, they end up at the castle of mad scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry)—he’s just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania—who’s about to unveil his newest creation that took him just seven days to make: Rocky (Peter Hinwood), a gorgeous tan man with muscles and tight gold shorts. A strange journey of an evening tinged with sexual tension, motorcycles, and music and dance ensues.
The characters and costumes are iconic, and the songs are a campy blast. Watching it this time, I picked up on a sexy overtone that I was kind of surprised to see it retains. Bostwick exudes an adorably dorky charm that I’ve always liked. It’s impossible to picture anyone but Curry as Frank-N-Furter, but Mick Jagger was after the role (http://www.broadway.com/buzz/171159/happy-birthday-dear-rocky-38-freaky-facts-about-the-rocky-horror-picture-show/). Meat Loaf makes for an interesting cast member. And who doesn’t love Magenta (Patricia Quinn)?
The Rocky Horror Picture Show bombed when it was originally released, but an astute marketing person recognized its potential in a different format—the rest is history. It’s an okay movie, but what goes along with it makes it a truly unique experience. Audience participation is a concept created here, and nothing else ever will be—or can be—quite the same.
In 2005, the United States Library of Congress deemed The Rocky Horror Picture Show “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry (https://www.loc.gov/programs/national-film-preservation-board/film-registry/complete-national-film-registry-listing/).
(Music Box) C+