Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

Scene Takes On: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Janice Chung | The Observer

Midnight gatherings, initiation rituals and a full-fledged pledge of allegiance make this fan base the ultimate cult following. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” — part musical, part horror film and entirely outrageous — is the bible for this mysterious group of fans who treat their beloved film as much more than your typical genre flick.

The way “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” plays out in theaters is unique compared to any other movie, and may be shocking to first-timers. While the film is shown on screen, a live cast dynamically acts out the scenes in front of the screen, but not without getting up close and personal.

This isn’t simply a live performance; “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is defined by audience interaction. Messy props and rude banter, shouting back and forth with character lines and dancing to the time warp make for a rowdy viewing experience. A few members of the audience even get a chance to do a performance of their own. I won’t give any spoilers for the “virgins” of the crowd (anyone who hasn’t seen “TRHPS”), only that they should be sure to grab a survival kit. On Halloween weekend, A Rocky Horror cast even performed at our own Legends Nightclub to an audience littered with virgins, many of whom will end up carrying on the tradition.

What’s remarkable about these traditions is that there are no instructions given at the show, yet much of the audience is acting in unison. It’s obvious that most of the audience is very familiar with the show, the mark of a cult following. Newbies pick up on the audience responses, and the tradition continues.

It might appear that only an extremely niche group would be fond of the aggressive, raunchy humor of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” but with shows that have been playing across the country for decades, the cult reaches father than you might think. This begs the question, what is it about this movie in particular that brings people together?

The movie seems nonsensical, but the way it has built a community makes the message clearer. The music, the costumes and the outrageous characters all lead toward attention-grabbing ridiculousness. Most notable is Doctor Frank-N-Furter, the sassy, extremely sexual transvestite from another planet, who builds his own sort of eye-candy monster, parodying the famous Mary Shelley story.

The movie is a statement against conventionalism that reaches into absurdity, but it reflects a desire for acceptance of our own unconventional qualities, which undeniably brings people together. For the cult followers of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” it’s not just fun Friday night entertainment; this performance is a way of life.