I’ll admit, I am the worst when it comes to watching films or television shows that are popular or critically acclaimed. I have never seen Game of Thrones, I was late to the Breaking Bad party, and movies like Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, and even The Lord of the Rings series are still on my to-watch list.
So when I heard that The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cult classic to end all cult classics, was being screened by Just So at the Byre Theatre, I bought a ticket in hopes of scratching it off my list. I knew nothing about it other than that weird ‘anticipation’ thing and that Tim Curry (the world’s most underrated treasure) was the main star.
When I arrived in a black t-shirt and jeans, I immediately felt out of place: Why were so many attendees wearing sexy maid outfits? Was that guy really wearing teal lipstick and a corset? Sure, he was totally rocking it, but I could not help but question if I arrived at a convention and not a movie showing. There were instructions being broadcasted on side screens for us to follow while watching, but why? After a ‘make your loudest sex noise’ introduction, I turned to my friend, and he just told me to ‘embrace the weird.’ His advice was worrying, but now that I have been converted to the Rocky Horror cult, it all clicks. I am only ashamed it took so long.
For the first few minutes, I merely observed, aghast, as other viewers shouted at the screen, cheering and hissing when certain characters walked on. I couldn’t see the appeal at first: Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Botswick) hilariously overact, and the dialogue starts off annoyingly slow. It was not until ‘Over At The Frankenstein Place,’ where the film got more interactive, that I felt a change. At some point, in between the audience singing along to Brad and Janet’s duet, holding newspapers over their heads, and waving glow sticks, my heart melted. From that moment on, I understood. Rocky Horror is a weird movie, but it’s spectacular and loveable and timeless. When Tim Curry said the ‘antici-pation’ line, I did not roll my eyes like I expected. Instead, I was giddy, elbowing my neighbor, as if they might have missed it. Curry as Dr Frank-N-Furter is absolutely maniacal as the musical’s leader, but I was completely taken by his charm. When he struck a pose, waiting for his sidekick Magenta to remove his bloody gloves after brutally murdering Eddie (Who knew Meatloaf was in this movie?), I found his craziness endearing.
I danced along to the ridiculously amusing “Time Warp” (which is still stuck in my head), clapped when Dr Scott burst through the laboratory wall after coming in too hot on his wheelchair, and gaped at Rocky’s impressive physique. ‘Unconventional’ is an understatement for Rocky Horror, and it is the over-the-top treatment of the plot that makes it so tremendous. There is not an ounce of subtlety throughout the film, and it only provides more for viewers to sink their teeth into.
Would I have valued this movie as much watching it solo? Probably not. As I laughed out loud at the more obscene moments, I felt embarassed, at first, as if I was ruining the experience for the more devoted fans, but I found that the people who were decked out in fan gear laughed louder than any-one else. There certainly is a ‘cult’ that spawned from this show, and maybe the organised rituals and gatherings that it is known for are what solidifies the obsession for devotees.
It is disheartening to know that St Andreans have to wait another year for another live performance. Netflix does not currently list it, and I find it amusing that no other films are recommended when you search for it. That’s because there is nothing that comes even remotely close to its absurdity, no musical that offers catchier sing-alongs (it has taken over my Spotify playlist).
For now, all I can do is ponder why people do not fawn over Curry as much as he deserves. Give the man an Oscar.