The Rocky Horror Picture Show
|Name:||Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rocky Horror|
|Creator:||Richard O'Brien, 20th Century Fox|
|Date(s):||Original release: 1975|
|Country of Origin:||US, UK|
|External Links:||IMDB profile|
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The Rocky Horror Picture show is a 1975 film adaptation of a stage play (The Rocky Horror Show) by Richard O'Brien. Upon its initial release, the film performed poorly with critics and at the box office, with most of its supporters being preexisting fans of the stage show. After being shown as a Midnight Movie, it became a cult classic, and fan traditions formed around it. Fans shouted lines at the screen, apparently interacting with the characters, and dressed up as those characters. In many theaters, the entire movie is acted out in front of the screen simultaneously.
Rocky Horror is a musical that parodies classic science fiction and horror B-movies as well as the (than current) "glam rock" fad of the early 1970s. Narrated by The Criminologist (Charles Grey), the story follows Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged couple who on their way to see their old college professor and friend, Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams). They get a flat tire in a rainstorm and are forced to seek shelter in a nearby castle; one owned by the cross-dressing alien mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) from the planet Transsexual in the Transylvanian galaxy. That night, Frank is revealing his latest creation: a Frankenstein-like "ideal man" he calls Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). Brad and Janet, and eventually Dr. Scott, are all caught up in the madness of it all, while servants Riff-Raff (Richard O'Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) are working on a plot of their own.
Performance and Participation
The major fan activity associated with Rocky Horror is the shadowcast: a screening of the film accompanied by a live stage performance. The film is projected onto a screen; in front of the screen, actors in costume lip-sync and shadow the characters behind them. Some college campuses put on annual shadowcasts as a Halloween tradition.
Audience participation is also a significant part of the experience. Fans not participating in the shadowcast directly will deploy props (cards, rice, newspaper) and shout memorized MST3K-style call-out lines at various points during the film. Fan groups will sometimes add, remove, or alter the standard call-out script, meaning that the lines said can vary depending on time, location, and current events (e.g. referring to the skeleton at the beginning of 'Time Warp' as a recently deceased celebrity). Many people wear costumes, including those who don't usually engage in cosplay.
Start of Fandom
One of the most famous members of the fandom that began with the midnight showings was Sal Piro, who was also the president of The Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club from 1977 until his death in January of 2023. An official newsletter called "The Transylvanian" was also published.
Response to Fandom
Due to the film's cult following, a number of attempts were made to cash in on it, the most notable being a quasi-sequel from 1981 called Shock Treatment. This film involves the now-married Brad (Cliff DeYoung) and Janet (Jessica Harper) being trapped in a TV studio that has taken over their hometown of Denton and forces them to take part in a bizarre reality show. The film was hated by fans and panned by critics upon release, but like it's predecessor it has slowly gained a cult following of its own. Richard O'Brien himself has attempted to write a sequel to the original called Revenge of The Old Queen and several songs and the script have been leaked online.
A moderate amount of fanfiction has been written, mainly archived at fanfiction.net, which has nearly a thousand stories. It's a Yuletide staple. Rocky Horror-themed fanfiction sometimes gets written in other fandoms, often fusion AUs or fics in which the characters take part in a shadowcast.
- Rocky and Bullwinkle Horror Picture Show by Joe Blevins- a parody/crossover script featuring the characters from the classic 1960s animated show starring in their own take on the story.
- why did you drink pepsi - an imagined extension of the scene wherein Frank seduces Brad. Orphaned.
- Wiles by Rosedark -- AU that foregrounds the sf aspect of the show. (AO3 link)
- 2nd Annual Rocky Horror Convention (Calderone Concert Hall, Hempstead, L.I. on October 8th , 1978 at 7:30 pm.)
- The Denton Convention
- The Official Rocky Horror Fan Site
- IMDB profile
- stories @ AO3
- Wikipedia:The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- "USA Film Fest brings off MST3K reunion (of sorts) www.pegasusnews.c…". 2008-04-26. Archived from the original on 2013-10-16.
- An announcement post for a shadowcast at Yale University.
- An article about the annual Rocky Horror production at Lawrence University.
- An article about the Rocky Horror shadowcast at Augustana College.
- Moon-Drenched Shores of Transylvania, a leaked demo from Revenge of the Old Queen.