So for my most recent show, I simply chose a list of “happy” songs. They are all songs that make me smile or laugh or feel all warm and fuzzy. One of the songs you’ll hear is the Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Thinking back as far as I can remember, The Rocky Horror Picture Show always seemed to be on our television. It’s mum’s favourite movie and she introduced me to the film when I was really little. Of course at the time, I had no idea what the movie was really about. There was just lots of singing and dancing and cool costumes and weird stuff, so from the very beginning, I became addicted. I began watching it more often and as I got a little older, I slowly started to realise that this movie wasn’t just about a whole heap of nerdy-looking people dressing up and dancing and having a good time. And that’s when I really started to appreciate everything about this incredible movie released 40 years ago.
So let’s go back for a little bit of history…
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman. The screenplay was written by Sharman and Richard O’Brien based on the 1973 musical stage production, The Rocky Horror Show, music, book and lyrics by O’Brien. The show is a satirical tribute to science fiction/horror movies of the 1930s through early 1970’s, most obviously those created by Hammer Film Productions – a company who specialised in creating awesome horror movies during these decades. A number of props and set pieces were used from the Hammer horror films in the production of the RHPS, which just makes it all even more awesome!
Anyway, the story is about a young couple, newly engaged and quite innocent and conservative, and what happens after their car breaks down in the rain in the middle of nowhere. They have to visit a nearby castle to ask for help and everything that happens from that point on is just insane and fabulous and wicked and ridiculous and everything else you can think of. It involves a mad alien transvestite scientist, a Frankenstein-ish perfect man-toy creation, out-of-control servants, a murdered ex-lover, a very informative criminologist, the mass loss of virtue, lots of corsetry and of course – a massive amount of brilliant music and dancing and seriously, it’s a 100-minute explosion of pure awesomeness!
Ok. So at the time of the film’s release, it wasn’t considered to be anything special and it actually received some pretty ordinary reviews – however soon after, the film was given the midnight run in theatres and that’s when it’s popularity grew. It developed an enormous cult following and this still exists today – 40 years on. The film is famous for its audience participation with people attending in costume, re-enacting the scenes, throwing things up in the air and calling out responses to the characters throughout the movie. Four decades after its release, the RHPS has the longest-running theatrical release in film history.
Now I’m not going to talk anymore about what happens in the movie because dammit – you should already know and if you don’t, you should sort that out pretty quick. What I am going to do is tell you a couple of reasons why I love it so much.
As I said, I’ve known this movie as long as I can remember. I know every line, every lyric and every moment like the back of my hand. And in all honesty, this movie has some pretty awesome childhood memories attached to it. I love the fact that whenever mum watches it, she sings and carries on at the top of her lungs. It’s so bad but so completely cool at the same time. She loves when all of us kids sing along with her and she gets this absolute look of pride and satisfaction when we sing or quote lines from the movie out of nowhere.
I remember one night in particular. My dad had taken a few of my siblings up to the river for the night and it was only me, mum and my youngest sister left at home. I think Mabel was about five years old and mum and I had planned to watch the RHPS after she went to bed. She just wouldn’t go to sleep so mum decided that it was time for her to see the movie for the first time. She stayed awake for the entire movie and was so fascinated and into it, sitting bolt-upright and constantly asking us questions like “is that a boy or a girl?” and “why are the boys wearing girl’s undies?” Of course, she was already well and truly familiar with the music, so it was just a matter of her learning that there was a story and characters attached to that music. She still has no idea what the movie is really about, but she loves watching it as often as possible – just like I did at that age. It’s pretty cute.
Another reason I love this movie is because it’s brilliant. Not brilliant because I love it – brilliant because it’s clever, funny, bizarre and just managed to create this amazing cultural phenomenon that could live forever. I believe film to be a little bit different to music in that respect. If you don’t get to see a musician or band perform live before they retire or die, you’ve missed out on that experience altogether. You can watch live footage and listen to the songs and still love every minute of it, but you can’t see them in their essence, doing what they did best. Movies like the RHPS don’t have this problem. You can still see it at a theatre and I’m going to make the call right now that I don’t think that will ever change. I believe there will always be a theatre somewhere in the world that will screen the Rocky Horror Picture Show until the end of time!
For me, I also love the sense of community this movie creates. It’s a little bit like the Comic Con thing. You know you can dress up and geek out over all sorts of insanely cool stuff and nobody is there to judge you – in fact, they’re there for the exact same reason. It’s the same with the RHPS. Everyone is there for the same experience and to appreciate the same things. Upon it’s release, this movie appealed to the outcasts, the nerds, the film and music enthusiasts and the weirdos and it still does, although it has become a little more mainstream. You know you’re a genuine RHPS freak when you dress up as Columbia whenever you can and you sit there watching and studying the movie, learning all the spots to call out inappropriate comments, just so when the day finally comes when you’re able to attend the real thing – you’re ready. It’s a serious thing.
So The Rocky Horror Picture Show makes me happy. It always has and it always will. That’s why the Time Warp featured on this show.
Go and have a listen x