Rebecca May Ristow | A&E Editor
When a movie fails commercially, but audiences somehow still love it, you get something called a ‘cult classic’. When a film can outlast its commercial value, or spring back from the dead on a rerelease, it can sometimes develop a following that's even more culturally relevant and interesting than if it were to originally succeed. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one such film, and perhaps the most relevant cult classic of all time.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in 1975, based on a musical released in
1973. For those of you that don’t know the story, the movie-musical follows couple Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick) as they get stuck in the woods while driving. Forced to enter an old mansion and ask for assistance, the two straight-laced sweethearts are met with Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a promiscuous scientist, as he attempts to build his perfect man. This creation he later dubs as “Rocky”. The two characters, Janet and Brad, lose their innocence as they’re faced with a cast of eerie and wild characters like a rockstar biker, a creepy butler, a kooky maid, and many more people ranging from dancers to doctors.
Serving as both a parody and a tribute to the sci-fi and horror B-movies of the 30s-60s,
the show is bizarre. It's nonsensical in parts, crazy throughout, and filled with high-energy
musical numbers that are sure to send any unsuspecting viewer straight home. However, if you understand the culture behind the movie, and aren’t afraid of getting a little loud and dirty, seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show is sure to be a time you’ll never forget.
So, if it's this crazy, why is it still relevant? The film is still considered to be in limited
release, even in 2022, 47 years after its original showing. This makes it the longest-running
theatrical release in film history. Ever. The film can accredit most of its popularity to the culture that surrounds it. For one thing, those that see The Rocky Horror Picture Show are implored to ignore all theatre etiquette. People throw things at the screen, yell obscenities, and utilize props from their seats. This is so widely accepted that many showings of the film will even hand out prop-bags to their viewers! These bags usually contain rice to throw during the wedding scene, newspapers to protect you from the ‘rain’, toast, playing cards, noise-makers, or even toilet paper and gloves. This makes the film showings, which usually happen at midnight or around Halloween, much more unique to audiences.
Along with prop-bags, a unique aspect of Rocky Horror is how many cities and theatre
companies perform in something called a shadow-cast. A shadow-cast refers to a cast of people that will dress as the characters from the film and act it out on a stage, simultaneous to the movie playing behind or above them. They will mime all of the action, perform the dances, and interact with the viewers face to face. There’s no hiding from these characters. Especially now, as the show comes to Eastern Connecticut State University this Halloween season.
Eastern’s Drama Society, in collaboration with Pride Center, is producing their own
shadow-cast showing of Rocky Horror for anyone interested in experiencing something new.
Set to play in The Betty Tipton Room on November 4th and 5th, this show has everything that makes the original so special.
Drama Society will provide prop-bags, and instructions for use, to any audience members. There will be free food and drink as well. The club is even encouraging students to show up in their Halloween costumes, ready to see a full cast of dancers and actors! It is completely free to see the production, but both Pride Center and Drama Society will be
collecting donations for The Trevor Project at the door as an homage and tribute to the show’s large LGBTQ+ following.
This show is popular for many reasons. Some like it for the audience interaction, some for the theatrical showings. Many LGBTQ+ people love it for its message surrounding gender expression. The sentiment of the show is generally that anyone can express themselves however they see fit, regardless of sexuality or gender identity. That's why one of the main quotes taken from the film is,
| "Don't dream it, be it."
Instead of being consumed or smothered by what you're supposed to be, live your life as strangely or as wildly as you want to.
Of course, the only way to truly understand The Rocky Horror Picture Show is to experience it first hand, so make sure to grab your seat! As the movie claims so eloquently, it is time to be taken on a “strange journey”.