Morning Music: Science Fiction Double Feature

Rocky Horror Picture Show - Science Fiction Double FeatureWhen I was a teenager, my girlfriend forced me to go to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at least a dozen times. I hated it. I still think it is a film that could have been great, but is just silly in the most adolescent way imaginable. I read an interview with Richard O’Brien many years ago. In it, he said he wrote it in response to Jesus Christ Superstar. He said that a rock opera should not be about religion but about sex. Fair enough. But did it have to be a 14 year old boy’s idea of sex as he flips the pages of Playboy? But I always loved the opening, “Science Fiction Double Feature.”

What I like in the film is what most people miss: the parody of low budget science fiction and horror films of the 1940s and 1950s. Brad and Janet get stuck in the middle of nowhere when their car breaks down. So they go to the mansion nearby. And they find — Surprise! — a mad scientist. But not just any mad scientist, a “sweet transvestite.” It’s hysterical, but only in the context of oh so many films I’ve seen where this happened but the mad scientist wasn’t a transvestite.

Why “Science Fiction Double Feature” Is the Best Song

Given it is the old movie angle of the film that I like, it should come as no surprise, that my favorite song in the film is “Science Fiction Double Feature.” I still use the song to remember that Michael Rennie (a thoroughly forgettable actor) played Klaatu in The Day the Earth Stood Still. I had thought about writing an article going over all the movie references, but Wikipedia has done a splendid job of it.

For the uninitiated, that was Richard O’Brien singing and Patricia Quinn’s lips. Quinn played Magenta in the film. But she also played the schoolmaster’s wife in the hilarious sex education skit in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

11 thoughts on “Morning Music: Science Fiction Double Feature

  1. Finally, something we agree on. I liked the first part of Rocky Horror enough to watch it twice but generally never liked it enough to watch the midnight showings repeatedly even with friends.

    • I didn’t mean for the post to be a review. It clearly works as the film it is trying to be. It is self-conscious about its silliness. The academic explaining the steps to “Time Warp” in the middle of it is simply brilliant filmmaking. But it isn’t really my kind of thing. Maybe if I were more into stockings…

      • Or stockings on Tim Curry. As I said, I like the first part but once they went into the Meatloaf section I was like “meh.”

        • Yeah, Tim Curry kills it. And he did the role on stage, too. I watched the movie last year for the first time in ages and it does start to drag around that Meat Loaf point. Curry is so swank we looked up Wiki so see if he initiated the role, and he did. Also; a young theater kid got experience in rigging lighting during the original LA run — that was Al Franken!

          There’s a pretty dumb Jack Black rock-parody movie, but in the opening Meat Loaf does a nice little but (after he spanks the kid): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3diOABYLigE

            • I haven’t seen him since his stroke. I hope he can still sing. He’s amazing. I’ve got him singing tomorrow and then I think I’m going to do him the day after that.

  2. So, in the remake they are doing, Curry -who still suffers from partial paralysis via stroke- will be playing the criminologist.
    My brother took me to see RHPS in Petaluma when I was 14. It was like I had never seen breasts. We met associates of my brothers ahead of us in line and the lady of the couple was clad in something similar to Magenta. I was amazed.
    I attended midnight showings over 15 more times, 12 in drag with dog-chain choker. I can’t really say why, but I think it felt like I’d have a chance at getting lucky……perhaps that was for the best.
    My three kids (10, 12, 14) want to see it….. I feel mixed about that. Clearly, it really goes no further than Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother.
    I can’t say I agree its the best song, I think they mostly blend together as well as most musicals. I think without being pumped full of curiosity and angst, the movie offers the viewer nothing.

    • I think you are being harsh. It is a silly romp, but that’s all it intends to be. There are a couple of songs that I think are real dogs: “Dammit Janet” and “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.” I will have to revisit it.

    • I saw it at 16 with a school friend who was also raised in a religious household, and we were blown away. Curiosity and angst — you nailed it. Of course the movie seems tame today, but at 16 I had no concept that there was anything like a transvestite transsexual, much less one from Transylvania.

      I didn’t go again, because of a misunderstanding. Me and my friend were not in costume and brought no stuff to throw at the screen, so we were obvious noobs. The regulars pointed at us and chanted “virgin, virgin.” What that meant was “hello, noobs, welcome to the party!” What I and my friend (both sexual virgins) assumed was the sophisticated hedonists around us could tell, on sight, we were virgins. It was horribly embarrassing. We didn’t realize they were fellow geeks just being goofy and friendly.

      14 is easily old enough. 10 is probably too young. 12, that’s a judgement call. It’s a harmless film, but you don’t want them to be introduced to offbeat adult kinks until they’re aware of the common ones. If I’d seen the movie at 10, it would have scared the hell out of me!

      • Oh, and this just came to mind . . .

        When I was 25, I moved back in with my mom to save money on rent so I could leave Portland. I had two younger brothers living in the house. One, a freshman in college, was already perverted beyond repair. We would rent every disgusting 1980’s splatter flick we could find at the video store and we’d watch them after everyone else went to bed (true low-budget, gory delights like “Basket Case” and early Peter Jackson.)

        The other brother was 12, and really wanted to see the “South Park” movie. My mom kiboshed this; she’d read the content was too adult. So she OK’ed seeing “Scary Movie” (a parody of horror films) instead. And that movie was really adult! It had a bit where a penis is poking a guy’s ear. I slunk in my seat with guilt. Naturally, my kid brother had a great time.

        Then some years later I finally saw “South Park” and it’s so inoffensive. Just a bunch of funny cuss words in songs, like this:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48XreePDi8k

        I felt like a very bad older brother that I took him to see the rotten movie instead of the good one! (We hung out for the first time in 15 years last summer, and we watched, of all things, “Rocky Horror.” It was fun.

        (Incidentally, the other brother who was into splatter flicks? He ran the Guvernator’s California budget team for a few years. So anything that went wrong in your state during those years, you can probably blame on me enabling an otherwise intelligent young man to watch “Silent Night, Deadly Night 3” and the like.)

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