Happy Birthday ROCKY HORROR

On September 26, 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show had its North American debut. While no one would argue that it is a perfect movie, I don’t think that anyone would argue that it hasn’t earned itself a place in movie history, redefining the midnight movie experience. Over the weekend, we’ll be exploring not so much Rocky Horror itself, but what came afterwards in terms of fandom, sequels and attempted sequels. SO keep popping back to do the Time Warp with us. But first, here is some of our favorite or most impressionable Rocky-related memories.

I saw it when it opened and closed within a week or so in 1975. I didn’t think it bad, I just thought it dumb. Then, when I was in Austin, Texas in the Air Force in 1977, I went with some friends from the base to a “midnight screening” (that alone was an unusual concept) of Rocky Horror on the University of Texas campus and I could not figure out why Rocky Horror was the movie, but hey, it was a Friday night and we could go to the bars and catch a movie, it might be fun.

I remembered Rocky Horror as a mediocre film, nothing prepared me for the show I saw. People dressed as the characters, tossing rice, lighting lighters, squirting water guns, yelling back at the screen. It was a whole lot of fun. I’m not a Rocky Horror fanatic, I’ve only seen the film about a dozen times, but that was mostly for the show and it was a great way to find a date for the night. So, my motives were not that pure. – Michael McGonigle

My first time with Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn’t in any theater. It didn’t involve any costumes or any rice or toast being thrown. My first time with Rocky Horror courtesy of a VHS tape.

The first time I saw the film was shortly after it was released on video in time for its 15th anniversary in 1990. Now, I wasn’t a stranger to the Rocky Horror phenomenon. I knew all about it. But the closest thing I ever got to see it in the theater was seeing a midnight showing of the first Batman film in the same theater as a showing of Rocky Horror.

But I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, so as soon as the video hit my local video store, I rented the film. I wasn’t impressed.

The film itself, let’s be honest, isn’t Citizen Kane level good. Seen on its own, it is a mildly entertaining trifle. It’s hard to see what the excitement was all about.

I thought that until I actually saw it at a midnight showing in a local theater several years later. That is the only way to truly experience the film in all its campy goodness. But I wonder how many other people VHS vanguards didn’t give the film another chance. – William Gatevackes

It’s 1993. I’m in a favorite bar and my friend Frank waves me over to a table where he is chatting with a lovely young blond woman whom I hadn’t seen there before.

“We need your expertise,” he said, as I pulled up a chair. He proceeded to ask me to explain some aspect about David Lynch’s Twin Peaks to lovely young blonde, whom was introduced to me as Lara. It turns out she had recently seen Fire, Walk With Me but had never seen an episode of the television series and had a few questions. Intrigued by this, I asked her why she went to the film with no knowledge of the television series, which segued into a general chat about movies. When I learned that she had participated in the local cineplex’s Rocky Horror Picture Show shadow cast, I decided to drop a bomb in the form of a question – “What do you think of Shock Treatment?”

A digression. At this point in time, most Rocky Horror fans hated Shock Treatment, though I suspect mostly due to reputation rather than to actually having seen the film. I had gotten it on video in college a few years before and was instantly smitten with the film, watching it with a friend numerous times over the space of one semester, trying to decode its story, singing along with its songs and shouting back our own jokes, a la Rocky Horror‘s audience participation. End digression.

“I love it!” Lara squealed and then sang, “Ya need a bit of, ooohh Shock Treatment!”

“Yes, you’re jumping like a real live wire!” I sang back in a not very passable approximation of Richard O’Brien’s nasal twang. And we didn’t stop singing until we had gotten through all the songs from the movie. “Denton USA,” “Little Black Drees,” “Look What I Did To My Id,” all of them. And then I think we did it again. All the while, I marveled that there was someone who seemed to love the music of Shock Treatment as much as I did. And that someone had great legs too!

A first date with the promise to watch my tape copies of Twin Peaks was planned, secured, no doubt in my mind, in part due to knowing all of those deliriously off-kilter lyrics O’Brien wrote. Although it was at times a, no pun intended, rocky relationship (my fault there), we are still friends today, even though she now lives two time zones away in Texas. Oddly enough, not too far away from a town named Denton. – Rich Drees

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