Sunday, October 16, 2016

Review: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Rated R

Score: N/A

There's really no way this review can possibly be objective. When you're watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show at a midnight showing at Fort Lauderdale's Classic Gateway Theatre -- as in, the way it's generally agreed that this film is meant to be seen -- the actual film is only one part of the experience. The audience participation is integral, an elaborate ritual that involves all manner of props and lines that go hand-in-hand with the events on screen. And the best part? I went in as a "virgin", somebody who's never seen Rocky Horror before (not even on video, i.e. a "masturbator"), which I had heard going in would see me subjected to hazing. For the record, I had a bright red "V" drawn on my forehead with lipstick before I even entered the theater, and from there, I, along with all the other virgins, was asked to request a fucking from a twenty-foot dildo, participate in a staged orgy, and act out having sex with my mother. Finally, I was selected to take part in the beginning of the stage production that went on underneath the screen and in the aisles of the theater, walking out in a white jacket as the male half of the newlywed couple in the opening scene.

I loved every second of it.

Seeing Rocky Horror live is a moviegoing experience like no other. It's not for kids -- don't let Glee or Fox's upcoming made-for-TV remake (due to air this Thursday) fool you into thinking otherwise. It's a film whose plot, themes, and imagery are built on transgression, especially of the sexual sort, and that's before you get into the fandom. It's about outrageous characters going wild in a sci-fi/horror/musical mashup that feels like it was written while on some sort of mind-altering substance. The arrival of aliens is the least bizarre thing that happens on screen -- not after you've seen Tim Curry's flamboyance as Dr. Frank-n-Furter, the mad scientist striving to create the "perfect man", Rocky, an object of pure sexual desire. Ever song is a blast to sing and dance to in the aisles, all while it's raining various items being thrown by the crowd. It is a beautiful ode to camp, individuality, and free spirits everywhere. I didn't know anybody in that theater when I walked in, but when I left, I felt like I had become a part of something. Stopping at 7-Eleven at two in the morning as I returned home, I didn't even think to wipe the red V off my forehead. Anybody who noticed it and cared about it would ought to know where it came from or at least be curious, at least in my book, and if anybody bothered me or gave me funny looks for it (nobody did), I'd just wave to the haters. (I did shower that night and wash it off, if only because I didn't want to wake up with my pillow smeared in red lipstick -- that, and because I wasn't a "virgin" anymore.)

The Bottom Line:

Again, there's no possible way to keep this review objective, especially when the audience experience is such a critical part of it. It's a movie you can't readily hand down a clear-cut score to. All I can really say about this affectionate ode to '50s B-movies is that you have to see and experience it for yourself. You will not regret it whatsoever. Trust me.

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