By Brianne Johnson, Daily Film Columnist
Published October 30, 2012
Why rot like a kernel of candy corn between couch cushions, waiting weeks for that “Halloweentown” marathon to end? Why waste $30.95 on glares from “sexy” service workers (God forbid they don’t mistake your Alex DeLarge costume for a chick in a bowler hat, cheap falsies and the quality lash glue of a ’95 stick-on earring)? Why hobble down Hill Street to a-friend-of-a-friend’s house party if a maid in a smirk (and little else) waits at the doors of the State Theater to brand your fresh forehead with a cherry-red ‘V’? Before these sentences stretch into November, let’s be clear: It’s too late to explore racks of cat ears, the bottoms of your classmates’ punch bowls or any other option tonight.
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Why not? Because you’re already seated between two men in silver lamé hot pants, a balloon in your lap and fishnet tights on your legs. Cheering for the sacrifice of your maidenhood, your neighbors usher you to the head of the theater, where the Master of Ceremonies calls the virgins forth to prick their balloons and “pop your cherries!”
Scared? Don’t be. This isn’t a collegiate cult, nor a shady fraternity basement bash — as any one of the costumed Columbias will tell you, it’s just another Halloween at the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
“Sorry, we just have to be really thorough.” A bin of confiscated rice packages and toast crusts sits at the side of a theater employee. She shines a flashlight through the purse pockets of cross-dressed men, women bedazzled in tuxedo jackets and a priest sporting the scarlet ‘V’ between his brows. All are in attendance — “Janet!” “Dr. Scott!” “Janet!” “Brad!” “Rocky!” (Audience: “Bullwinkle!”) — for the midnight showing of the 1975 cult classic.
And then there’s you, a “Rocky” virgin for her twentieth Halloween, turning to her neighbor to ask, “Who are Janet and Brad?”
One needs only to wait for the heckles and chants of the audience to make sense of the senseless story and glory of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Newly engaged Janet the Slut (Susan Sarandon) and Brad the Asshole (Barry Bostwick), stranded by a flat tire, ring the doorbell of a sweet transvestite, Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). They ask only to use his telephone, but Frank offers much more: sex, a Meatloaf dinner (literally a meal of musician Meat Loaf’s butchered remains), sex, tap-dancing and sex. Pool sex, too. But the one thing Frank will not share is his golden, hunky creation, boy toy Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood).
But, then again, no one can be sure.
Dialogue — if you can’t hear it over the hoots of a rambunctious crowd, it probably doesn’t matter. At least, the dialogue only matters in the context of a joke from the man in the third row, from the flock of lingerie-clad females down in front or from the early-’40s couple who have doubtless paraded the “Rocky Horror” scene since its inception. Comments bellow from the audience, punctuating every minute — and every line, gesture and pelvic thrust — of the film. A fan with so-accurate-its-horror-ific comedic timing devotes his night to asking, “Brad, are you gay?” After which Bostwick gazes at his co-stars and murmurs, “Yes,” every time.
It’s often the fans and box office numbers that elevate a film to blockbuster-hit status — look at the Twi-hards. Through blood, sweat, tears and more blood, they’ve managed to mold a mess of lip-bites and lust-laden stares into a vampiric juggernaut. But how often — with the exception of “Rocky” ’s campy, indulgent October nights — does the audience ever make the movie experience?
You rise from your seat to jump to the left and step to the right for the “Time Warp;” you cackle at the incestuous “elbow sex” (Here at “Rocky,” anything goes.) between Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and slip Romney campaign jokes in between scenes.