For a movie that came out during the Gerald Ford
administration, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" has been getting a
lot of press lately. There was the much ballyhooed "Rocky Horror"
episode of "Glee" this week.
There was a star-studded tribute to the camp rock opera in Los Angeles on Thursday that featured the
likes of Jack Nicholson, Jorge Garcia, Evan Rachel Wood, and George Lopez along
with Matthew Morrison and Lea Michele of "Glee" fame. And most
surprisingly, someone posted some footage of a young, svelte Russell Crowe
hamming it up in a Melbourne
stage production of "Rocky Horror" from the 1980s.
Of course, "Rocky Horror" has never really been
out of the press. The flick is the longest-running theatrical release ever.
That's right; it's been playing continuously since 1975. And chances are it's
playing in a theater near you, especially if you live near a college with a
strong theater department.
So why has this movie proved to be so successful while
other arguably better movies from that era, say "The Godfather" or
"Jaws," have faded gracefully to the realm of DVD and cable TV?
Simply put, "Rocky Horror" isn't like your normal trip to the
megaplex. Instead, it's a party.
For those who haven't seen the movie --
"virgins" in the parlance of the film's freakishly devoted fans -- a
screening of "Rocky Horror" might include getting pelted by hurled
pieces of toast, shouting (frequently unprintable) quips back at the screen,
dancing the Time Warp, and a great deal of cross-dressing.
When the movie debuted in September of 1975 in Los Angeles, there was
little or no indication that it would turn into a phenomenon. Its initial run
was modest and relatively free of thrown foodstuffs. It looked like it was
destined to be a half-forgotten example of '70s camp until it debuted at a
midnight screening at the Waverly Theatre in New York City the following year. The Waverly had already managed to turn such
cinematic oddities as "Pink Flamingoes" and "El Topo" into
bona fide cult hits and it was there that "Rocky Horror" came into
its own. People soon got hooked on the flick, seeing it 20, 30, 40 times.
According to the official "Rocky Horror" fan
site, one Louis Farese, a Staten Island kindergarten teacher, was the first person
ever to shout back at the screen. "Buy an umbrella, you cheap
[expletive]" he bellowed at Janet, the heroine, as she ran through the
rain with a newspaper covering her head. The audience reportedly erupted with
laughter and soon the restraints of normal movie-watching etiquette simply fell
Other fans began yelling out their own lines. People started dressing
like the film's characters. And they started bringing props. A lot of props.
During the above-mentioned rain scene, a regular some time around '77 pulled
out a squirt gun and began showering the audience. Now squirt guns are de
rigueur for any serious "Rocky Horror" maven, along with rice, toilet paper, a
deck of cards, party hats, and even rubber gloves.
For those newbies who want to catch "The Rocky
Horror Picture Show" this Halloween weekend, there are a couple things to
keep in mind, according to the fan site. Don't make fun of others costumes, no
matter how disconcerting it might be. Don't be jealous if someone else is dressed
in the same costume as you. And don't throw toast, toilet paper, etc. in a
manner that might cause injury.
If there aren't any midnight showings in your area,
there's a new 35th anniversary Blu-ray in stores now. The movie is also available for streaming on Netflix.
Watch the trailer for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" on Blu-ray.