due Spring 2012
Hal Leonard Books
It’s a scene that plays out every night across America, and across a large chunk of the rest of the world too. A tiny and probably downtrodden movie theater parked away in a back street somewhere, clinging on to life with a handful of screens where others might boast dozens; and luring in the locals not with the glitz and blitz of the modern movie-going experience (hard seats, handkerchief screens, overpriced popcorn and so on and so forth) but with a chance to remember when going to the movies was fun.
The days when the décor was flash and the usherettes smiled, and the ice-cream lady had a tray around her neck.
The days when you went to the movies because you wanted to, not because you’d been bludgeoned into submission by wall-to-wall advertising.
The days when you took a chance on an unknown, and it changed your life, rather than sitting through the blockbusters because nothing changed at all.
And the days when you didn’t just shrug and say you’d wait for something to come out on DVD, because there were no DVDs in those days, or home video rentals either. You saw a movie when the movie house screened it, then you waited for them to screen it again. And if sufficient people demanded it, it might come around again next year. Or next month. Or next week.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes around every week.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a phenomenon like no other movie before or since. We all, perhaps, can name a film that ranks among our personal favorites; a cinematic touchstone that affects us on every level that celluloid is capable of reaching, be it emotional, physical, psychological, sexual or spiritual.
It might be a weepie, from the days before Titanic so devalued that concept that now everyone expects a film to make them tear up. It might be a western, redolent with symbolism, gunsmoke and horseflesh. An action pic, a sci-fi epic (entire universes of imagination have sprung up around the Star Wars franchise – and doesn’t that indicate just how our perception of the medium has changed, the fact that we could even dream of describing a series of inter-connected movies as a “franchise,” as though they were simply another arm of some high street mega-chain, each branch rented out to the highest bidder to run more or less as they choose).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not a franchise.
Or maybe it is. There are certainly enough manifestations of it out there for you to hoard, from the original London stage show cast album through to the latest almost-forty-years-on revival download; from the movie soundtrack to the karaoke instrumental set; from the book of the film to the book you now hold; and onto all the officially licensed geegaws and baubles that allow the most mediocre mortal to walk the walk and talk the talk of the world’s most eligible Transylvanian bachelor without leaving his own pad.
Except it isn’t the passing fast-buck entrepreneur who operates the offshoots from the parent company. It is everybody who queues outside the movie house on that aforementioned Saturday night, their costumes clean and pristine-perfect, their lines well-rehearsed and spot on cue, their props in hand and their moves in place. The Rocky Horror Picture Show may not have been shot with anything more hi-tech than the industry standard cameras and mikes of the day. But it remains the world’s first and finest inter-active multi-media experience, a Virtual World before VW was dreamed of, lived out on a worldwide web that predated the Internet by almost two decades. (And no, you cannot even escape from it in the Second Life Virtual World… the costumes are available there as well.)
Rocky Horror is all of these things, and everything else you could want it to be. And to think, it all came from Denton High.