Over the years, there have been newer traditions for Halloween emerged. While trick-or-treating is an integral part of the spooky season, Haunted houses became a fad. However, the most profitable and commercially viable business that surfaced was Halloween-themed movies and shows like ‘Halloween’ and ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’. As per estimation, in 2021, citizens in the USA reportedly spent $10.1 billion.
So, it is not a surprise that many Halloween franchises, be it the ‘Halloween’ series, made $700 million over the years. The four films in the ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘ franchise were released during the Halloween season and made $186,016,171 worldwide. Then there comes ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’, which was a theatrical failure, but to date, why does the audience revisit the film’s stage adaptation the most during Halloween?
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The Origin Of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
When experiments were at their zenith on stage, during winter in 1973, the Royal Court Theatre staged a musical under comedy horror ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ in London. A satirical, horror gender-bending theme received applause from the audience in Britain. The Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman written screenplay sent waves in Hollywood too. Lou Adler, the owner of Ode Records got the adaptation rights for a theatrical release.
The 20th Century Fox bankrolled the project with a $1.6 million budget. They retained the original cast with Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick joining as Janet and Brad. Unfortunately, when the film was released, it became a box-office debacle. After its release, in 1976, the Waverly Theatre in New York for its midnight shows. Bill Quigley, a young advertising executive, suggested the idea to run the film at midnight.
So, when the film was released for midnight showings, people gave an overwhelming response to the film. The audience started ad-libbing the dialogues and started their traditions during the shows. They started their traditions. In 1976, during the Labor Day show, when Susan Sarandon held the newspaper during a scene in rain, a member of the audience yelled “Buy an umbrella you cheap bitch.” This started the tradition of bringing papers and putting the paper on the head.
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Why Did It Gain A ‘Cult’ Status?
The film, despite its box office failure, became the longest-running film in the history of films. The story is an ode to the Rock ‘N’ Roll era and the goodness of a B-grade movie. The movie is about Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Susan Sarandon. During a rainy day, the newly in love couple, take shelter in a castle that belongs to the transvestite and a scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry).
When the couple arrives, the Annual Transylvanian Convention is happening. Shortly after Dr.’s arrival, they take the party to a lab to show their latest discovery: a man named ‘Rocky Horror’. The story follows many murders, orgies, and cannibalism. It reveals that Frank-N-Furter and other attendees are aliens.
‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ revolutionized the portrayal of LGBTQIA+ characters in films. The over-the-top nature of the film, the pomp, and the camp that started emerging the parallel ballroom cultures in New York City and other places is credited to the film. The film brought the audience irrespective of their gender together and the brethren of this cult classic had the cinema halls as their safe space to express their gender identity without being judged. This communal and out-of-the-body experience that people had is what makes it a cult film. And yes, the costumes still inspire the Halloween season.