The theatre began to fill up and people in fishnets and gold shorts were walking up and down the aisle. One came up to me and asked if I had seen the movie before; I said yes. What I didn’t realize then was that she was really asking if I’d seen it live before, which I hadn’t. It was a few days before Halloween and I was at the annual screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and I had only a very small idea of what I was getting into.
Many consider The Rocky Horror Picture Show to be the original cult film. It stars Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as Brad and Janet, a newly engaged couple who, after a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, wander to the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). Originally released in 1975, the film did not do very well commercially, except in a few theatres, where the same people came back night after night to see the film. It was re-released in 1976 in New York on the midnight movie circuit and quickly spread to theatres all over the world, developing an ardent fan base. The film has been shown at various venues on a regular basis since then.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show event at the Vogue this weekend was a continuation of traditions that were established around thirty years ago, and have been consolidated every year since. People arrived in costume, dressed in anything from fishnet stockings to what looked like rolls of toilet paper. Those who admitted that they had never seen the movie before, live or otherwise, had bright red “V”s drawn on their foreheads. The crowd was told, “No water and no throwing things at the screen,” and the lights dimmed. As the movie began, everyone sang along to the opening credits, adding words when it made sense.
The film opened at a wedding, and as the married couple exited the chapel, I felt a sprinkling on my head. I looked up and, suddenly, there was rice, uncooked, all over me and everyone around me. Looking around I saw the audience flinging rice all over the room and I began to realize just what this event is all about. The dialogue started and the audience erupted. It took me a few times to make out what people were screaming, but eventually I made out and even took part in the cries “Asshole” or “Slut” whenever someone onscreen says “Brad” or “Janet.”
The Criminologist comes on screen and someone yells, “That man has no neck,” and the crowd boos and heckles until he goes off screen, with the audience having no idea what he said. People don party hats for the birthday scene; they wear newspaper on their heads during a rainy scene; when “The Time Warp” begins, half the audience gets out of their seats and heads to the front of the theatre to dance and sing along.
Going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a blast. Amidst the torrent of toilet paper, toast, and rice, there I was, grinning like an idiot the whole time. The event is especially fun if you’ve already seen the film before, but if you haven’t, and I knew a few people there who hadn’t, you’re still in for one of the most profound, bewildering, and exciting movie-going experiences anywhere—just don’t expect to hear a lot of the dialogue. This traditional Halloween event is something that everyone at Mt. A should attend at least once.