When 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.