This slim volume (156 pages) is devoted to one of cinema’s great cult classics – one of the stage’s great cult classics first. The Rocky Horror Picture Show spoke to people who hated musicals. It had people who had never even thought there was a counterculture nodding along because of the music, the straightest, squarest mingled with the daring and queerest – this word-of-mouth curio had people dressing up weekly to attend screenings, to sing along and over the music, throwing rice as if they were part of the party that sent Brad and Janet off on their strange journey.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was everything to people raised on musicals and ghastly b-movies. But – just as often – it was everything to people who were not raised on musicals and sci-fi and horror and trash TV.
Dave Thompson, writer of over 100 books, is a perfect choice for churning this out. It might just be a lot of Wikipedia-ing and microfiche-ing but he does it well – and provides just enough analysis to keep fans satiated.
An easy read, sure, but it got me thinking about this film and stage musical – I fell in love with it at an early age. As a kid I’d never heard anything like it – never seen anything like it. Thinking about it now, and it’s something Thompson’s book suggests too, you wonder how it ever made it across the line, how it endured, how that word-of-mouth continued to spread. And continues, arguably, to spread. Anniversary editions, associated product like this book, special screenings, new productions of the stage show – there are always entry points for new fans.
And that’s probably what I love most about Rocky Horror – it welcomes you with open arms. It makes you feel comfortable. There are schlocky bits, there are hokey bits, there’s some hammy acting, some tedious scenes even – but it works. Somehow it works. And so if you’re a fan of Rocky Horror you’re going to want to read some of the behind-the-scenes stories. You might know some of this background already but this is light and breezy and Thompson is an engaging enough writer for this to work.