This seminal, gaudy glitter ball-of-a-movie written by Richard O'Brian receives a deserved Halloween re-release.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the film adaptation of a popular stage production written by Richard O’Brien. It was originally released in 1975 and it more-or-less tanked. But soon, word of this tale – centred on a singing transvestite alien – spread, and midnight showings began to pop up throughout the States. Many of these midnight screenings run to this day, fuelled by the utter reverence that a select clique have for this (still) beautiful, weird and dark film.
Over on our side of the pond, we’re being treated with a re-release to coincide with Halloween and, well, just because everybody absolutely loves it. Whether you’ve seen the musical before or not, you’re bound to know that this gaudy pastiche of B-movie science fiction and horror is a musical like no other and its iconic status is totally deserved.
The story sees recently engaged Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) stranded on a rainy night in the middle of nowhere. In search of refuge, they rock up to a creepy looking castle and find a strange group – led by drag scientist Frank-N-Furter – in full party mode. Brad and Janet soon become ensconced within the goings-on around the castle, and when Furter’s Prometheus Rocky Horror is brought to life, all campy hell breaks loose.
At least a paragraph of props must be served to Tim Curry whose turn as Frank-N-Furter is pure, unadulterated brilliance. Curry manages to present the character in a way that is both feminine, masculine and incredibly sexy. In fact, Curry’s representation of Furter epitomises the subversive nature of the film. Curry makes Furter macho and a stud, yet he prances around his castle in an embroidered bodice and killer heels which, while fabulous, is also imbued with a revolutionary zeal.
And yet as events around the castle begin to unfold, there’s no denying that movie's various themes remain pertinent. More than that, by re-releasing The Rocky Horror Picture Show in a time where marriage is predominantly claimed by a heteronormative agenda, the journeys of Brad and Janet as they explore their sexaulity in accordance with a gay agenda is seriously refreshing. With this in mind, while it’s easy to paint Rocky Horror as a slice of unadulterated fun – which of course it is – it’s also a groundbreaking and important film.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is about two completely normal and rather boring people who are crowbarred out of normality, soaked in queerness, and they end up relishing it. With gender roles spun on their killer heels, high kick-ass songs and more kitsch horror than you can shimmy your shoulders at, this is one hundred minutes of pure queer celebration that manages to concoct a bizarre cocktail of sincerity and reckless abandon.
Let’s do the Timewarp again.
Dammit (Janet) I love you.