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  • Writer's pictureStephen Yanni

Title: The Rocky Horror Picture Show - A Tale of Two Experiences

Rating as a standalone movie: ★☆☆☆☆

Rating as a midnight movie with fan participation: ★★★★☆

Soundtrack rating: ★★★★★

Released 09-26-1975

Watched 06-25-2023

Reviewed 06-28-2023

Watched at Landmark Inwood Theatre

"So come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab. I see you shiver with antici… pation.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, released in 1975, is a film that is iconic for both its outrageousness and its dedicated cult following. It’s a musical comedy horror that melds together a dizzying array of themes and genres. The plot revolves around a young couple whose car breaks down in a storm, and they find themselves at a bizarre castle owned by the enigmatic Dr. Frank-N-Furter. The ensuing adventure is a wild ride of music, dancing, and over-the-top characters.

As a standalone movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a tough watch for the uninitiated. The plot is disjointed, the characters are exaggerated to the point of caricature, and the production is a mix of camp and kitsch that doesn’t quite come together cohesively. The film attempts to parody the B-movies of the 1950s, but for someone unfamiliar with the genre or not attuned to this particular style of parody, it can be confusing and off-putting. Hence, a rating of 1 star is warranted.

However, The Rocky Horror Picture Show takes on an entirely different life when experienced as a midnight movie with fan participation. The first screenings that encouraged audience participation began in the late '70s, and the tradition has only grown since. Audiences come dressed as their favorite characters, armed with props, and ready to sing along, dance, and shout back at the screen. This experience is transformative – what was once a chaotic and nonsensical film becomes an electrifying and communal celebration of eccentricity and self-expression. The film's inherent absurdity is embraced and amplified by the audience, and it's this interaction that makes it a 4-star experience.

As for the soundtrack, it's the crowning jewel of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Composed by Richard O'Brien, who also stars in the film as Riff Raff, the songs are catchy, memorable, and capture the campy essence of the movie. With stand-out tracks like “The Time Warp,” “Sweet Transvestite,” and “Science Fiction/Double Feature,” the soundtrack is energetic, engaging, and can easily be enjoyed separately from the film. It’s no wonder that the music has endured and even overshadowed the film in some respects.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a film leaves much to be desired in terms of plot and production. However, as a social experience during midnight screenings, it evolves into something magical and enthralling. The soundtrack stands out as the beating heart of the film, with timeless tracks that continue to be beloved by many.


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