The Rocky Horror Picture Show: A cross-cultural classic

By in Culture

As Halloween approaches, the cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show brings audiences back into its spooky, campy and sometimes downright bizarre spirit.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been delighting and confusing audiences for 44 years — after all, who can’t hum along to a few bars of “The Time Warp”? It can be a perplexing experience on the first viewing — or even on the second or third — but Rocky Horror seems to bring people together for this very reason.

Starting as a British play staged in 1973 — starring the infamous Dr. Frank N. Furter and company — it was quickly brought to the silver screen in 1975. The script has since been regarded as a love letter in bright red lipstick to the science-fiction and horror B-movies that came before it. For instance, director Jim Sharman nods to movies such as King Kong and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in the Rocky Horror film.

After mixed reviews from critics, theatres began to host midnight showings of the film. It was in the dead of night when moviegoers started to feel the effects of Dr. Frank N. Furter and up rose the cult phenomenon that continues to this day.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has enjoyed worldwide success throughout the decades. In 2016, there was even a modern-day reimagining of the original film, titled The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank N. Furter.

Rocky Horror is known worldwide for its audience participation. Viewers often dress up like the characters and bring props to mirror what is happening on the screen — rice is thrown during the wedding scene, water guns are squirted, umbrellas are opened when it starts raining and more.

There is even heckling at the actors — though if mistimed, the out-of-line audience member will be shushed, just like at a normal movie. Frequently, audience members become a shadow cast, acting out the roles and mouthing the lines through the entirety of the film.

Each community creates their own traditions and rituals during the movie. Lines, props and experiences may change from city to city, but the community and love that accompany the film stay the same.

Even Saskatoon has its own little community of Transylvanians. As in previous years, the Broadway Theatre will be showing the film on Halloween night. Unfortunately, rice, water guns and hot dogs are not allowed in the theatre. Tickets for the show are $14.

It’s important to be prepared if you’re going to a screening of Rocky Horror. First off, research the props that you need to bring, and you’ll be at home with the veterans. Also, remember to watch the movie a few times. Perhaps most importantly, be ready to get weird. Or else, what’s the point?

The Persephone Theatre also has a live production of Rocky Horror, directed by Saskatonian Ricardo Alvarado. The show runs from Oct. 23-28, with a special midnight show on Oct. 27. Though now sold out, Saskatoon could see future productions of this in the future.

From its humble beginnings as a British stage play to its modern-day adaptations, it’s safe to say that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is still just as mystifying and wonderfully weird to this day.

Isabelle Cook

Graphic: Tufts Film Series / Flickr