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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rocky Horror: At the Not-So-Late-Night Single-Feature Picture Show

The '70s lurked back into our lives this weekend prior to Halloween, with a screening of the original The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

We attended the 8:00 pm show (there was also an 11:00 pm) with friends in Norwalk, Connecticut, viewed on an IMAX screen amongst a crowd eager to interact, many dressed as characters in the film as has become commonplace. The theater offered "party packs" so you could throw rice and toast into the air; snap surgical gloves; and cover your head with newspaper as schpritzers eagerly came by to simulate rain, all during appropriately timed moments of the movie. And the print that unreeled was pristine.

To the single individual seated behind us, shouting studied responses to the film, I want to say: this may have been cute and trending in the '80s, but you're doing the time warp again.  Your incessant shout-outs came off as juvenile, age inappropriate (as in grow up, bitch!), unfunny, uncool, not in the least bit amusing, sexist, homophobic and sad.

In 2005, the 1975 film was selected for preservation in the United States, by Library of Congress, as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." I first saw Rocky Horror when it began its original run, as a midnight movie at New York City's Waverly Theater in Greenwich Village, in '77. The film was not successful when originally released in '75, but the '77 midnight gig (inspired by the midnight cult success of Pink Flamingos) turned it into an international phenomenon.

Dj Buddy B & Friends @ Rocky Horror in CT
The first thing we noticed was how thin and gorgeous its cast was back then; especially Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. Curry would certainly burst his bustiers today, and I doubt even Susan and Barry could fit into their famous Rocky Horror underwear.

Curry plays sweet transvestite Dr Frank-n-furter as if he was Joan Crawford, the Acid Queen. He was part of the original King's Road staging of the play in the UK that went on to the West End. The film version made him a world-wide star, though nothing he did afterwards eclipsed his part in this movie, with which he'll always be identified.

I love the songs, the choreography, the dismembered lips that open the title credits with teeth out of a dental hygienist's wet dreams, the pansexual naughtiness, the game performances, Curry's chewing up the scenery like a real star (with his goofy teeth), and Barry Bostwick's basket. How I love a tall, strapping, hung nerd!

Rocky Horror is a broad, British music hall-based parody of horror and science-fiction films of the '50s and '60s for the glam-rock generation. The film, more particularly, sends up the look, color saturation, and set design of England's Hammer horror flicks.

It still amazes me that this rock'n'roll musical confection has the "legs" to entice generations of hard-core fans. This was the first time I experienced live interactivity with the flick. But it's a beautiful thing when the audience sings "There's a Light," and other numbers. Vaudeville lives! On screen!

It's alive! It's alive!! Still.