Our editor-in-chief Nate Yapp is proud to have contributed to the new book Hidden Horror: A Celebration of 101 Underrated and Overlooked Fright Flicks, edited by Aaron Christensen. Another contributors include Anthony Timpone, B.J. Colangelo, Dave Alexander, Classic-Horror.com's own Robert C. Ring and John W. Bowen. Pick up a copy today from Amazon.com!
Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Yay, further indignities! This movie is the cult movie to end all cult movies. What makes this film so special that it is the longest running movie ever? Why all the mass hysteria at midnight every weekend night? And why the hell am I covered with all this fricking rice??
This film is the first and last of its breed. You know the story. Dr. Frank N. Furter, an alien from Transsexual, Transylvania, comes to earth to create the perfect man (hence, Rocky Horror). In the meantime, he takes away a virgin couple’s “innocence,” engages in cannibalism, and enters a 5-way around-the-world orgy in a Michelangelesque swimming pool.
And you thought Blood Freak was weird.
It’s hard to pick one reason for this film’s success. Perhaps it’s because this mayhem is done to the tune of a catchy rock and roll soundtrack. Or perhaps, Tim Curry is simply the baddest transvestite ever to grace the screen. Maybe, just maybe, it’s because the film is ahead of its time, even today.
If I had a gun pointing to my head and was FORCED to give one reason the film is such a hit, I would say “Tim Curry.“ Upon looking through my pocket thesaurus, I could not find one word that was suitable to encapsulate all areas of his performance. He is the one man who does not lose even a slightest bit of his masculinity by putting on women’s clothes. If anything, his masculinity is amplified. His singing voice is wretchedly erotic and his strut is more manly than John Wayne’s… despite wearing fishnets and high heels. He played Frank N. Furter with a subtle dominance and confident vulnerability. It’s absolutely mind blowing. Tim Curry is the Frank N Furter that all Frank N Furters are measured by. From my days of being a "Rocky Horror" cast member, I have never once seen a Frank come even close to him.
I must also give snaps to Patricia Quinn (Magenta) and Little Nell (Columbia). Though their characters weren’t nearly as prominent as Frank N. Furter, they made them into cult icons. Every female member of a "Rocky Horror" cast has nearly clawed another cast member’s eyes out over dibs to play Magenta. By far the second most popular character, Patricia Quinn had it all. She was dominant yet subservient, and mysterious yet blunt. Every woman wants to grow up to be Magenta. Columbia, though not quite as beloved as Magenta, was a delightful little character played to perfection by Little Nell. Cheery, squeaky, and vulnerable, she tapped her way into our dark, perverted hearts.
Then, there is the movie’s look. The movie is timeless. Watching it today, I can’t believe that this film was made 30 years ago as it looks just as fresh now as ever. The sets were remarkably impressive for the budget. It has more than its share of continuity errors, but this adds to the film. After all, this is suppose to be the ultimate spoof of monster/alien movies. God knows that they weren’t exactly masterpieces of editing, either. The first time I saw Rocky Horror at the impressionable age of 11 (this explains a lot, doesn‘t it?), I was immediately attracted to the vividly colorful backgrounds. After being through film school, I‘m still impressed with the color scheme. The movie is so colorful that I dare say it is the best use of color EVER in a film’s background scenery. Color me impressed.
When all is said and done, this film didn’t get to where it is just on its cinematic merit. There was something a little extra with Rocky Horror. The film preached acceptance, regardless of personal differences, and put it all under the banner, “Don’t dream it, be it”. With this being said, it shouldn’t be surprising that the majority of people attracted to Rocky Horror in a cultish way are people who are “misfits” in society. Rocky Horror has always been a weekly party where you’re accepted no matter if your sexual preference is men, women, or sheep. And you even get to throw food, shout expletives at the screen, and wear fishnets. Fun for the whole dysfunctional family.
It’s pretty easy to see that Rocky Horror is here to stay. There will always be midnight shows. There will always be sold-out Halloween shows. And, there will always be the mayhem, the cross dressing, and the “warm, fuzzy” feeling you get surrounded by people who are as perverted as you (of course, the warm, fuzzy feeling could be someone‘s sheep. You never know.). If you are not yet in the know, I can only give the following advice: don’t rent this movie. Don’t even buy this movie. Go see it in your local theater. Pop that Rocky Horror virginity, and give yourself over to absolute pleasure, damnit! (Janet!)