The weird and wonderful musical-comedy-horror film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in the UK forty years ago today, on 14th August 1975.
Initially met with disdain by critics, The Rocky Horror Picture Show became one of the first films to adopt a ‘cult’ status within audiences – largely through it’s midnight showings, which subsequently turned the musical adaptation into a worldwide phenomenon.
The film is an experience in itself, following college sweethearts, Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) as they head to a nearby castle after their car breaks down. Hoping to call for help, they eventually discover that the castle is occupied by a strange group of people, headed by a mad scientist called Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) who turns out to be an alien transvestite attempting to create ‘the perfect man’ in his laboratory.
For a film that was originally based on the 1973 musical stage production of the same name, it has since become the
longest limited release in cinematic history. Upon release, it took in a domestic total gross of $112,892,319 at the box office.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show soon became a film that you had to live, rather than just sit and watch. A year after it was released, audiences began to participate at visceral screenings of the film in New York’s Waverly Theatre, where they would dress up in elaborate costumes and makeup, talking and singing along to the film as their favourite characters.
Even though the film (and musical production) is a satirical tribute to the science fiction and horror B-movies of the late 40’s and early 70’s, costume designer Sue Blane didn’t do any research for designs portrayed in the film. This defiance to so closely adhere to past fashion styles, subsequently helped to shape the development of classic punk music trends, such as ripped fishnet tights, dyed hair and pronounced make up.
Directed by Jim Sharman, and co-written by original creator Richard O’Brien, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is as enjoyable today as it was 40 years ago – only getting more and more iconic with age.
Take a look at Tim Curry’s unforgettable rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ below.