Rocky Horror Picture Show turns 40

The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 40: Let's do the Time Warp again

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Sep 26, 2015, 9:05 AM EDT

40 years ago, 1975 brought the arrival of a number of sci-fi, horror and fantasy films that made an impact on their genres -- some good, some not so good, but all interesting and all remembered even to this day. We continue our look back at each of those films on the anniversary of its release and where it stands four decades later with the granddaddy of the modern cult film.

Title: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Release date: September 26, 1975 (US)

Cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien

Director: Jim Sharman

Plot: Newly engaged, wholesome and virginal couple Brad (Bostwick) and Janet (Sarandon) are on the way to visit a former professor one dark and stormy night when their car gets a flat tire. Heading to a castle they spotted along the road, they fall into the clutches of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Curry), a transvestite mad scientist from another planet who is creating the perfect man but finds time to introduce Brad and Janet to the "sins of the flesh."


Why it's significant: A flop when it first came out, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (based on a popular British stage musical) found its niche when a couple of theaters in Pittsburgh and New York began playing the movie at midnight. It soon became a late night sensation, running for years on end (it still plays at midnight every weekend around the country to this day and is the longest running theatrical release in film history) and attracting a loyal following who soon began dressing as their favorite characters, acting out the movie's catchy rock numbers, talking back to the screen and throwing props such as rice during a wedding scene. Rocky Horror became not just the first and still the most successful midnight movie ever, but in its primitive way was the first example of interactive cinema, as well.

Aside from that, Rocky Horror is also a loving spoof of old horror and sci-fi movies, only seen through a hedonistic '70s filter of sexual freedom and abandon. The movie's central theme, "don't dream it, be it," is a call for everyone of every sexual proclivity to be comfortable with themselves and their desires, and it was those endless midnight showings that provided not just a community but a safe haven for young people who sensed they were different. Rocky Horror was about letting your freak flag proudly fly, a message that still rings true. Let's do the Time Warp again!


Other entries in this series:

The Stepford Wives
Deep Red
Terror of Mechagodzilla
Escape to Witch Mountain
Death Race 2000
Race with the Devil