In honor of Tim Curry receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award during last night’s Tony Awards, today’s Midnight Movie is The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 cult classic based on the 1973 stage musical that originated in London and was written by Richard O’Brien, who plays Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter’s (Curry) handyman Riff Raff in the film. Since its creation in the mid-70s Rocky Horror has maintained a massive following of fans who still flock to midnight viewings forty years later for communal sing-a-longs to hit songs like “Time Warp“, “Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul“, and “Sweet Transvestite.”
The film itself is devoid of any coherent plot, but to try to sum it up, two wholesome young lovers, Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick), get a flat tire while going to meet Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams) and walk to the castle of mad scientist Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter (Curry) who is playing God by trying to give life to his creature, a muscle-toned male specimen called Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). Along with Riff Raff (O’Brien), his sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn), a groupie named Columbia (Nell Campbell), and a delivery man used for experiments named Eddie (Meatloaf), they all proceed to break into random rock ‘n’ roll songs and dances that are largely non-sequiturs.
Rocky Horror is an exuberant parody of old horror movies, most notably Frankenstein, and B-movies from the old Hollywood studio system. It is over-the-top, eccentrically theatrical, and bursting with joy and life. But what makes it most enjoyable is that the music is actually really great — rock ‘n’ roll jams a la Buddy Holly or Little Richard, which were all written and arranged by O’Brien himself.
Another reason Rocky Horror has captivated audiences for so long is the iconic and incredibly charismatic performance by Curry as Frank ‘n’ Furter. It is a role Curry played for over two years, originating the role on the London stage before bringing it to Broadway, and ultimately onto the big screen. He fully embodies Dr. Frank ‘n’ Furter and fills the screen with his gifted physical comedy — his eyebrows are on their own planet! Having suffered a stroke a couple of years ago, we wish him the best of health; he is a true legend in the theatre community.
If there is a midnight showing near you be sure to see Rocky Horror the way it was meant to be seen, it is great fun and will have you shouting by the end “you’re lucky, he’s lucky, I’m lucky, we’re all lucky“!