The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Not many movies have had such an impact on culture as The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Written by Richard O’Brien and released in 1975 after the London musical production of the same name, the film completely bombed at the box office and was even pulled from several theaters upon release. Sure, it didn’t please the mainstream audiences at the time, but it did captivate a more underground audience that quickly became one of the most dedicated fan bases in movie history. With iconic characters, catchy songs and a long history of interactive showings with audience callouts (here’s a handy guide if you’re a Rocky Horror virgin), it’s no wonder the movie snatched first place on Rolling Stone’s 2014 Readers’ Poll as the best cult movie of all time. Now, let’s take a look at why it’s so influential; and, more importantly, why it’s a must-watch this Halloween!).
- The Humor
One of the reasons why The Rocky Horror Picture Show is so appealing is, put simply, its distinctive campiness. Contrary to what one might assume based on the name alone, this musical is not intrinsically horrifying. The movie flawlessly parodies 50’s and 60’s sci-fi movies while paying homage to them, and indulges in classic horror movie tropes like the mad scientist and the mysterious haunted mansion in the middle of the woods. As an added bonus, the dialogue is full of tongue-in-cheek humor, gags, wordplay, and clever puns, making this a “so cheesy it’s good” experience every time you watch it.
- The Characters
What makes the humor and plot so effective, aka the heart and soul of the entire musical, is the character of Dr. Frank ‘N Furter. Originally played by the legendary Tim Curry, this villainous hero plays along with the audience in an absurdly entertaining way. The dynamic between the main characters allows this humor to take off. Frank N’ Furter’s lustful spontaneity and extravagant persona contrast conservative newlyweds Brad and Janet’s inexperience and naiveté. The rest of the cast, including the characters of Eddy, Columbia, Magenta, Riff-Raff, and Rocky himself, bring their own fun twists to the mix.
- The Epic Soundtrack
The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s soundtrack is engaging, colorful and catchy right from the beginning, with “Science Fiction Double Feature” as the perfect prelude for this wild roller coaster of a movie. Rock n’ roll is the gist of it all, with show-stopping anthems like “Rose Tint My World”, “Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch-Me” and the most memorable of them all, “Sweet Transvestite”. Whether you’re listening to the original London stage play recording, the 1976 movie, the 2016 reimagining movie with Laverne Cox’s Frank N’ Furter, or even the Glee cast renditions, you’ll be doing the “Time Warp” all night (red lipstick and fishnets strongly recommended).
- Its Message Was Way Ahead of Its Time
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a movie way ahead of its time. The movie was released in theaters in 1975, just six years after the historic Stonewall Riots. As the fight for LGBTQ rights grew steadier throughout the 70’s, the movie became an icon within the queer community. The movie portrayed gender expression and queer sexuality at a time where LGBTQ representation in the mainstream media was practically unheard of. Additionally, the midnight movie showings became safe spaces where audiences could build a sense of community and belonging, regardless of their background. Frank N’ Furter, a pansexual gender nonconforming alien who is quite literally the epitome of queer expression, dares us to embrace our true selves with the classic line: “don’t dream it, be it”. Besides its themes of sex positivity and the reversal of heternormative gender roles, the movie’s clear message of acceptance is still very relevant today, presenting past and present audiences an opportunity to feel less alone in the world. Now that’s powerful.