Late one November evening, two newly-engaged conventional types, Janet and Brad, are stopped due to car trouble. As it begins to rain they hurriedly run to the nearest shelter—the foreboding Frankenstein Mansion—and into cult movie history.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” debuted in 1975 as a strange concoction of film elements gathered from musicals, science fiction, horror and comedy. It completely tanked at the box-office, only making $450,000 in the first six months, not even half of its $1.2 million budget. Criticized for an outrageous campy-ness and a seeming lack of plot, 20th Century Fox was ready to write it off as a bust.
As a last ditch effort at salvation, the movie was given a midnight showing at Greenwich Village's Waverly Theater in April of 1976. By summer the midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” had begun in other cities and was gaining steam.
Now, it is one of the most successful and well known cult movies of all time, and is the longest running of any movie. It still plays weekly at some theaters. It has become a staple of disaffected youth, popularized by such works as “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” and described by some fans as a place where “we can all be weird together.” But it is also a place where any and all audience members can dress up and have a good time.
The film follows the strange adventures of Janet and Brad as they stumble across Frank-N-Furter's home which is hosting the Annual Transylvanian Convention. A ridiculous cast of characters is introduced, including a zombie biker named Eddie, played by a still yet-unknown Meat Loaf. The tale follows the loss of innocence of Janet and Brad as they are overcome by the scantily clad and overly-sexual Frank.
The reason for the popularity and longevity of movie is probably due to the elaborate interaction fans have created with the film. The original Rocky-ites turned the movie into a sing-along which then developed into an extensive system of audience responses. Fans yell “Let there be lips,” as the movie begins and the large red lips appear on screen to introduce the film. “Slut” is chanted every time virginal Janet appears. On-screen slaps are met with audience hand-claps and “what's your favorite color?” is said as the character Magenta is introduced onscreen.
Often, participants bring props and toss them about the theater at certain cues. They throw rice while Janet and Brad attend a wedding. As the same pair are stranded in the rain squirt bottles go off. When the mansion owner—extraterrestrial transvestite Frank—proposes a toast, the audience throws toast around the room.
And let's not forget the costumes. Viewers come dressed as their favorite character or in the Rocky Horror uniform of fishnets, corset, and feather boa. “Virgins” or first time viewers are brought to the front to engage in an initiation skit and repeat viewers are asked to take part in the acting and songs. Some theaters have their own cast that acts out the film in sync with the movie.
Western's AS Productions Films will be hosting a viewing of the movie at 10:30 p.m. on Oct. 31 at Artzen 100. Paul Whelan ASP films coordinator said that the event is a tradition at Western and it usually sells out so be sure to come early. It is $1 for costumed students and $3 without. Some props won't be allowed because of the cleanup, and the production won't include a cast of characters acting along in the front, Whelan said. However viewers are encouraged dress in drag, sing along, dance to “The Time Warp” and enjoy in the counterculture party that has been a Halloween tradition for more than 30 years.