Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Another film we're going to mention briefly is the cult-classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

When first released, The Rocky Horror Picture Show seemed doomed to failure, playing to nearly empty theaters across the country. But when midnight movie screenings became popular, this film found its niche, and moviegoers began flocking to see it, drawn not only by its “campiness” but also by the opportunity to “participate” in the show. Patrons began to dress up like the characters, to dance along with the music, to shout out lines to the screen (“How strange was it? So strange they made a movie out of it!”), and to bring along their own props (e.g., rice to toss at the wedding, flashlights to shine during “There’s a Light,” noisemakers to blow when Rocky is born, toasted bread to offer in response to Frank’s dinnertime toast, confetti, toilet paper, playing cards, rubber gloves, newspapers, water pistols, and so forth). Still screened at midnight, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has had the longest theatrical run in history, with no end in sight, as new generations of patrons learn the lines, dress in fishnet stockings and bustiers, and “toast” the movie screen.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show also has a quite memorable dinner scene. Beginning to lose control of his guests, both those invited and those unexpected, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) invites everyone to join him for dinner. Not knowing the local customs (they are aliens from the planet of Transsexual, after all), Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) have set an eclectic table (with beer steins or coffee mugs serving as wine glasses and at least six spoons per place setting) and proceed to toss, throw, spill, and dribble the meat and drink to the guests. After singing “Happy Birthday” to Rocky (Peter Hinwood), Frank carves the “tender” roast, but when he offers a toast to Eddie (Meat Loaf), everyone finally understands the source of the meal and flees the table, screaming.

Fun Facts:
The original musical play did not feature a dinner, so when Jim Sharman filmed this new scene, the movie actors (especially Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Jonathan Adams, and Peter Hinwood) were completely unprepared for the revelation of the prop corpse of Eddie when Frank (Curry) yanked the tablecloth off the dining table. Their reactions of horror, remorse, outrage, and disgust are quite genuine.

Just before the dinner scene, the Criminologist (Charles Gray) opens his book to a view of Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper, a sarcastic tribute to biker Eddie’s sorry life.

Released September 26, 1975
Starring Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss, Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors, Richard O’Brien as Riff Raff, Patricia Quinn as Magenta, Little Nell (Nell Campbell) as Columbia, Jonathan Adams as Dr. Everett Von Scott, Peter Hinwood as Rocky Horror, Meat Loaf as Eddie, Charles Gray as the Criminologist
Directed by Jim Sharman
Based on the musical by Richard O’Brien
Written by Richard O’Brien (play) and Jim Sharman (writer)
Awards: 1980 Hall of Fame Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, USA

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