The Rocky Horror Picture Show is pretty much the Granddaddy of all cult films: when it was released, it was ignored by the public, and the Chicago Sun Times resident film critic, Roger Ebert, saw it to be mediocre.
However, in one cinema in Germany, they showed constant midnight screenings of this new, ground-breaking film, filled with sex gay, straight, and between humans alien transvesties and alien transvestites from the planet ‘Transsexual’ in the universe of ‘Transyllvania’.
Rocky Horror was more than just a farcical comedy, it was a celebration of sexuality, which dared to involve the controversial issue of anything ‘un-heterosexual’.
The cult grew, and cinemas across the globe began to show midnight screenings of this new cinematic phenomena. Cult fans went to screenings dressed as the characters, would sing and dance to the songs (‘Time Warp’; ‘Sweet Transvestite’), shout out famous lines of dialogue (“Antici…………………………………………………………..pation”), and even turned the event into a 4D experience (water and confetti were thrown around the cinema).
However, has the cult died?
On Halloween night this year, I went to a re-release screening of Rocky Horror. I dressed up as the narrator. The narrator wears a suit, white shirt with a red tie. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these, so I wore a blue shirt, white tie, jeans and converses. (I like to think of myself being dressed up as a ‘contemporary’ version of the narrator, however, my friend, Adam just said ‘You failed’).
Anyway, we walked in to the screening room, there were a few people dressed up: the odd Capricorn, one Rocky Horror, a few Magentas, some Frank N Furters, and me dressed up as a ‘contemporary adaptation’ of the narrating criminologist. The rest? Jeans and a T-Shirt. Perhaps, nobody had high-heels and fishnet stockings…or maybe they just had no sense of fun. The bastards.
Either way, I felt like part of the cult, and I waited in antici……pation (yes, I really had to do that) for the film to start. Along came the title song, nobody sang to it, then ‘Damnit Janet’ song, nobody sang…then Time Warp was coming up; I remember thinking that if nobody sang to this, god help me and my criminologist uniform. It started, I stood up, I was going to dance along with it; I turn round, and around 10 other people were standing up in the cinema with around 50 people in its vacinity. What an utter disgrace to human kind these so called ‘cultist-fans’ were.
Either way, I proceeded to sing along to the songs; even if I didn’t know them, I sang nonetheless. I perhaps took it a tad too far (there is a section in the film where Frank N Furter chases Janet after the meal: me and my friend, re-enacted this in the cinema, I was Janet (obviously), he was Frank N Furter, we ran around the front two rows on bent knees. What can I say? It was a 4D cinematic masterpiece we produced…baring in mind, around 50 strangers (maybe even 100) were watching us).
Now, rambling aside, I must address my original question: has the cult audience of Rocky Horror faded away? Yes. Why? Well, because some old fans might not have the ‘back strength’ to do the innunendo-seeping ‘pelvic thrust’, or maybe because they’ve all grown up and won’t join in with the audience participation. Either way, it is a dreadful shame that this 25-year long-running cultist audience has lost its energy (well, in Milton Keynes X-Scape Cineworld anyway).
So, what to do? How can we bring back the cult? Well, below, I have suggested a few ideas:
1) Media Campaign
There needs to be a fully fledged media campaign across all styles of media. Newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian and The Sun (their page 3 section could consist of Frank N Furter giving a rather ‘naughty pose’).
Television, we need advertising galore, we need trailers of Rocky Horror on WWE and Antiques Roadshow DVD boxsets, and of course, we need Gordon Ramsey to mention it in a cooking commercial.
We’ll also need a great big documentary as well, preferably on BBC1, BBC2 and for reasurance: BBC World. This documentary should be like a lightshow which manipulates viewers minds in such a way that for every second they don’t buy a DVD copy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, their brain slowly melts.
(You can pretend I never said any of the above).
2) Blackmail Debenhams
Debenhams will need to up its supply of make-up, high heels, fishnet stockings, wigs, innuendo-gag-filled-joke-books, Rocky Horror Picture Show posters, Rocky Horror Picture Show DVDs, Rocky Horror Picture Show Blue-Rays, Rocky Horror Picture Show HD-Compatible CDs, and Rocky Horror Picture Show bric-a-brac (including: mugs, T-Shirts, glasses, novelty ironing boards, golden underpants, hoodies with famous quotes such as “I didn’t make him for you”, “A mental mind-fuck can be nice’ and ‘antici…..pation’). Oh, and all staff members must be dressed up as one of the characters otherwise they’ll be threatened with loosing their jobs.
3) Blackmail Rymans
The exact same thing but in a stationary store.
That should do it.
Next week: How to turn Blue Velvet and The Exorcist into a 4D experience.