One of the most popular musicals of all time, The Rocky Horror Picture Show continues to mesmerize audiences and get your middle-aged parents dancing in the aisles to this day.
Based on a 1973 stage production called The Rocky Horror Show, Australian director Jim Sharman took his considerable stage production experience and brought us the beloved story of Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his mysterious castle full of enthusiastic guests of the Annual Translyvanian Convention.
When an innocent couple are left stranded in the rain, the duo arrive at the doorstep of the wonky castle in hopes of using a phone. Instead, they are treated to the first of many wonderfully macabre musical numbers – the ‘Time Warp’.
Brad Majors and Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, respectively) realize quickly that they aren’t mingling with the most well-centered folks on the planet but things really spin out of control when they meet everyone’s favorite ‘Sweet Transvestite’, Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The role is and will forever be owned by the one and only Tim Curry.
But it’s not just weird songs and stiletto heels at the castle. There’s also a nefarious plan to rule the world, cannibalism, a reanimated corpse and a few sexual activities that would make any squeaky clean young man like Brad Majors blush.
Visually, the film is enthralling. Musically, you can’t help but tap your foot and throw your hands in the air. The acting is deliciously cheesy, which isn’t a knock at all – the film is made to be an interactive shout-along with the audience. Curry, Bostwick, Sarandon, Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta) crush their roles. And who could forget about Meat Loaf as the rock ‘n roller Eddie?! Fun fact- O’Brien, as the butler Riff Raff, is the writer of the original stage play.
I went to a local theater last year and saw an adaptation of the film on stage and absolutely loved it. Any self-respecting Transylvanian Convention attendee will tell you that it’s a must to obtain a proper gag bag for the show, complete with toilet paper to throw up in the air and bubbles to blow during the wedding scene. This is what truly has made the film such a cherished cultural artifact after all these years.
My mother guessed she had seen the film some fifty times on the big screen during midnight showings in the early-to-mid eighties, dressed as Magenta and shouting at the screen as the projector wheel spun. When I saw the stage production last year, almost 3/4 of the audience were old enough to be my parent and they were as overly playful and loud as the younger ones in the audience that night. This film became such an important part to so many people’s formative years that it’s no wonder stage groups and random theaters across the country still see such great turnouts when the marquee announces the arrival of the production.
On it’s 44th birthday, we celebrate The Rocky Horror Picture Show!