Mar 302011
Authors: Allison Sylte

At the end of a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” screening, the movie theater looks like a warzone.

A thin layer of rice coats the floor, punctuated by countless pieces of toast and forgotten playing cards thrown haphazardly in every direction. Toilet paper is wound up and down the rows of seats, with noisemakers and party hats occasionally sitting forgotten, along with miscellaneous pieces of lingerie and lanyards with nametags categorizing audience members as either ‘sluts’ or ‘assholes.’

“It’s different than an average day at work, that’s for sure,” said Danae Walk, a theater employee at the Fort Collins Cinema Saver 6, which has monthly midnight Rocky Horror screenings. “Sometimes I’ll see people wearing the costumes and have no idea what’s going on.”

Outside of the theater, moviegoers clad in revealing lingerie, maid outfits, tight bright gold shorts and sweater-vests and nerdy glasses linger outside, creating a stark contrast to the blandly dressed moviegoers filing out of other theaters, attracting both confused stares and looks of utter awe.

“You get to show some skin, and along the way maybe change some minds and shed some inhibitions,” said Sarah Johnson, a Rocky Horror fan who attended the Feb. 26 showing in Fort Collins.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a 1975 science fiction musical starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry that over the years has gained a substantial cult following, with moviegoers of all generations flocking to theaters nationwide to enjoy the participatory nature of the film.

The plot is convoluted and bizarre, with the basic gist being that Brad and Janet, a small-town couple, find themselves trapped in the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a Transylvanian transvestite who is having a party with his fellow Transylvanians to unveil his latest creation: “Rocky Horror,” a sexy, blonde and buff spin-off of the Frankenstein monster with a penchant for tight, shiny gold boxer shorts.

The real draw is the campy, 70s rock-opera musical numbers, which range from serious power ballads to more traditional musical fare.

“I absolutely love any sort of musical, and the music in Rocky Horror definitely does not disappoint,” said Ben Hilzer, a sophomore business major.

Audience participation began in the late 70s, after Rocky Horror was rendered a box office failure during its original theatrical release and was therefore only released in Los Angeles theaters for midnight showings. It was then that the film found new life, as over time, attendees began shouting lines and bringing props, later dancing along to the musical numbers and shouting responses to some of the dumber lines by the film’s characters.

Kassie Oswalt, a box office attendant at the Cinema Saver 6, coordinates the Fort Collins screenings, which she says attracts both older Rocky Horror fans and CSU students who come to have a night far from the traditional college Saturday evening.

“It’s just an absolute blast getting to see all the smiling faces and getting to see the moviegoers leave as converts,” Oswalt, who for the screening wore an elaborate maids outfit, said. “People come back again and again, and they tend to bring their friends. Rocky Horror is finding new life in the college crowd.”

Zack Minner, a freshman CSU communication studies major, attended the film after his roommate went to a showing the night before.

“He said dress up, bring a deck of cards and get your ass down to the theater,” Minner said before the screening. “Obviously, I was pretty excited. It sounds like the most awesome thing that I’ve ever heard of!”

First-time Rocky Horror viewers are put through a “virgin” ritual that usually involves being verbally assaulted by the rest of the audience. After this is over, the film begins, and moviegoers settle into the very beginning of the film, which depicts a pair of disembodied lips singing “Science Fiction/Double Feature.”

And then the chaos begins.

Rice rains down at the beginning of the wedding scene, and audience members start to scream “Asshole!” whenever Brad Majors (played by Barry Bostwick) graces the screen and “Slut!” for Janet Weiss, Brad’s onscreen love (played by Susan Sarandon).
During the ballad “There’s a Light (Over at the Frankenstein Place),” moviegoers shield their heads with newspapers and wave their cellphones along with the music, taking a brief rest before shaking their hips to “The Time Warp.”

Along the way, they chastise the criminologist for having no neck, complete Frank-N-Furter’s lines to make him seem more like a pervert and throw toilet paper when Brad yells “Great Scott!”

“My favorite part of the movie is when Meatloaf randomly drives in on his motorcycle and sings a quick doo-wop song,” Oswalt said. “It’s just so random and hard to describe.”

By the end of the film, the plot drifts into the even more bizarre as Brad, Janet, Rocky Horror and Frank-N-Furter dance along to a number telling them, “Don’t dream it, be it,” while clad in elaborate drag as they are whisked back to Transexual Transylvania by Frank-N-Furter’s maid and butler.

“The movie is perhaps the oddest ever made, and the production value is far from being particularly good,” said Jennifer Kropog, who attended the Feb. 26 screening. “But more than anything, it’s about dressing up and being with good friends and having a good time.”

Rocky Horror has recently seen popular culture resurgence after it was featured in an October episode of Glee where the cast decides to perform a production of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (despite the blatantly sexual nature of the film), ultimately deciding that Rocky Horror embodies the Glee Club because it highlights society’s oddballs and rejects.

“I decided to come after the Rocky Horror episode of Glee,” said Stephanie Visscher, a senior journalism major. “I knew right away that I just had to come to the theater and see it. And it didn’t disappoint.”

The Cinema Saver 6, which is located at 2525 Worthington Circle in Fort Collins, has Rocky Horror screenings at the end of every month with the next screening at the end of April, in which an entire cast of audience members will act out various parts of the film.

“It’s all about being goofy, having fun and embracing your inner weirdo,” Johnson said. “It may not seem like it is particularly profound, but it truly is when you think about it.”

News Editor Allison Sylte can be reached at

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