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The Halloween Tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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With spooky season lurking around the corner, there is no better way to enjoy Halloween than with a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Read on to take a dive into the Halloween tradition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The Plot

In this musical film, a newly engaged couple, Janet and Brad, (portrayed by Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) are stranded on a stormy night after their car breaks down. They seek out shelter at the nearby dwelling of the mad scientist, Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) and meet a cast of characters in elaborate costumes attending a convention. They are also introduced to the Frankenstein-like creation, Rocky, a tall, blond, muscleman. The adventure that follows is best described as campy horror with catchy musical numbers.  

Birth Of A Cult Classic 

A cult classic can be simply defined as a film that has gained a cult following. These films are typically characterized by elements like an initial box office failure, a cult following by a community, and being transcendent of social norms. The Rocky Horror Picture Show meets all these qualifications and more. 

The original stage production of The Rocky Horror Show premiered in London at the Royal Court Theatre on June 19, 1973. The musical was produced and directed by Jim Sharman and ran for nearly 3,000 performances. It would go on to open on Broadway on March 10, 1975, starring Tim Curry, at the Belasco Theatre.

With its raving success on the stage, O’Brien and Sharman collaborated to create the screenplay for the film adaptation of The Rocky Horror Show. The film first premiered in the UK at the Rialto Theatre on August 14, 1975, before making its way to the United States. Despite its poor performance at the box office in September 1975, TRHPS was soon revived through a series of midnight movie theater showings. The first midnight movie took place in New York at the former Waverley Theater, now the IFC Center, on April 1, 1976, and later shows sprung up all across the country. 

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Over time, traditions of throwing out responses to the characters on screen evolved into a staple part of the Rocky Horror experience. Water pistols, rice, and toast are all props that are used enthusiastically by the audience throughout the film. Many patrons dress up as their favorite characters too, donning fishnets, sequins and feathers like Columbia, or a leather biker jacket like Meatloaf’s Eddie.

Fans of the film were thrilled to revel in a storyline where the typical white, straight couple was subverted as the freaks while gender fluidity and sexual freedom are celebrated and seen as the norm for the Transylvanian visitors. With more fans joining in the tradition of dressing up in costumes, singing along and calling out the characters on the screen, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has cemented itself as a paragon of the cult classic. 

Where to See It 

If you want to check out this infamous cult classic production during the Halloween season at a nearby theater, you can find The Rocky Horror Picture Show tickets through TicketSmarter.