Creatures of the night
Midnight movies symbols of Halloween enthusiasm
By Nick Christian
There is something about the time around Halloween that makes late night movies like (A), (B) and (C) all the more interesting. Is it the obtuse plots, inexplicable
twists, or the darkness of night that adds to the allure of watching the cinema
often referred to as “Cult Classics” or “B-Movies?”
Regardless of what it is or what it isn’t, a crowd of more than 50 sweet transvestites
made way to the Guild Cinema located on Nob Hill for the Friday showing of “The
Rocky Horror Picture Show,” a movie credited as being the first movie to give
the midnight movie phenomenon traction in the mid-seventies.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is an odd movie to describe for those who haven’t seen
it. The movie stars Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Tim Curry in what is one
of the earliest roles in each of their careers.
A common answer from many of the people, young and old, waiting in line prior to
the opening of the cinema was they were here to “see the best movie ever.”
Delaina Colton, one of the many dressed up people in line, said she liked the movie
because it “is entertaining and it’s weird.”
“I don’t think it’s necessarily a Halloween tradition, but it is a tradition,”
Roughly 60-70 percent of the crowd dressed up in some way. Some wore simple lighted
glasses while others came dressed in identical costumes or elaborate corsets.
Sarandon and Bostwick play Janet and Brad, a young couple we are introduced to after the
marriage of their friends. They quickly make plans to marry and then they drive
But in the middle of their excursion they have car trouble and have to backtrack,
in the rain, to a castle they passed on the road. Looking for a phone, they are
encountered by a hunchback handyman named Rif Raff (played by Richard O’Brien,
who also wrote the film), the domestic, Magenta (played by Patricia Quinn), and
the groupie Columbia (played by Nell Campbell) getting ready for their bosses’
party when they enter into the castle.
After a classic song, with a dance sequence by tuxedoed transvestites who served as
the master’s guests, the reveal of Dr. Frank-N-Fueter (Tim Curry) occurs. Frank
shows the crowd of his latest creation, a man named Rocky Horror (Peter
Hinwood) and kills the Ex Delivery boy Eddie (Meatloaf) after a lovely musical
The movie has a dream-like quality with touches of early punk bravado. There are
messages that can be divulged from the film, but the true essence in enjoying
or understanding the film is indulging into the dialog and musical numbers.
The midnight movies are often the place for the interaction with movies like Rocky
Horror. In fact, there is a long standing tradition about interacting with the
The Rocky Horror Picture Show’s official fan website has a full history of the
film/play, etiquette while attending the movie, a list of props you will need,
and directions on how to use them.
For instance; in the beginning of the movie, as the wedding party exits the chapel,
it is common for the audience to throw rice at the screen. Or, when Janet and
Barry venture out into the rainstorm, it’s common for the audience to squirt
water at the screen and wear newspapers on their heads. The audience even throws
toast at the screen when Frank proposes a toast. In fact, there are 13 different
listings of props to be used by the audience during a midnight movie. That doesn’t
even include all the dirty stuff the audience gets to shout.
A quick note on the shouting; The DVD of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” has an
audience participation track that can be turned on so it can give potential
midnight movie goers a sense of what they may be getting into. It also can
serve as a good practice opportunity so you are not pointed out as a first
timer when you show up to the theater.
The etiquette portion of the movie’s fan site recommends that you don’t call Brad
and Janet an asshole or slut every time. The DVD is cool with whatever you want
to call them.
Seriously, listen to the track once you buy the DVD. It’s raunchy – in the best possible