It’s spooky movie season but for some of us, though, scary movies are just too much. I, for one, am still not over a particularly harrowing screening of a made-for-TV horror called Beneath back in 2009. So, for the faint-hearted out there, know that you are not alone, and there are plenty of films suitable for viewing if you choose to do a Hallowe’en movie night. For me, however, there is only one film worth viewing next Friday evening, surrounded by popcorn, toffee apples and overly sugared Hallowe’en sweets. The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
My love for “Rocky Horror” started several years ago, when I learned “The Time Warp” dance at summer camp. On a whim that summer, I bought a DVD copy of the 1970’s cult classic, and a mild obsession was born. It has all the elements of what I love in a film: it’s comedic in a sarcastic sort of way, it holds just enough tension in its plot to keep you hooked, it’s got songs, and it’s stark raving mad. My sixteen year old self was utterly captivated by the sordid household of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. Having grown up on a diet of Disney films and rom-coms, this was an eye-opener for me. When the stage version came to the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in 2010, I missed my opportunity to go, and I’ve been kicking myself since. Last year I attended a group screening of the film in college, complete with props to throw at the screen and sing-alongs. This year, I may well organise my own late screening and slices of toast to throw around.
What makes Rocky Horror so unique? Made in the late 1970’s, the film stars Tim Curry in women’s clothing, for a start. It’s a loving, ridiculous ode to the B-movie classics of the decades before it, revelling in silly plot twists, over-theatrical dialogue and casual corruption of its innocent protagonists. It’s a melting pot of every clichéd horror film you’ve ever seen: mad scientists, aliens and monsters abound. It makes no apologies for this; the opening theme literally references a dozen schlocky horrors from the 1950’s “at the late night/double feature/picture show”. Take all this and add to it a singing British transvestite, Meatloaf, more than a little sexual tension and some of the finest songs ever written for a musical, and you’ve got what should be a mess.
What makes “the strangest film phenomenon in history” work is its sense of inclusion – it’s no coincidence that the film is revered among the LGBTQ+ community. It’s a film about social exclusion; a seemingly normal couple are dropped into the crazy world of the Transylvanians, where, it seems, anything goes. It’s a film, ultimately, about liberation from a repressive society. It’s a film that encourages you to “don’t dream it, be it”. An awesome message and a deadly soundtrack? Sure what else would you be watching this Hallowe’en night?