Monday, August 31, 2015

rocky horror as my pick for film class

My son and I take a science fiction/horror film history class. It's taught by local film historian, Keith Crocker. Keith has directed a couple of features (The Bloody Ape and Blitzkrieg: Escape from Stalag 69). He also teaches cinema history classes at one of the local community colleges, lectures at libraries, runs programs in schools, etc.

At any rate, the class generally runs in groups of four sessions -- each with a theme. Such themes have been foreign-made films, drive-in trash, and 1950's sci-fi. The class format is simple. Keith talks about the week's movie -- the context, the people involved, other interesting facts, then we watch the movie and discuss.

This summer we experimented. For a special five-week session, each of us in the class picked a movie to show, and introduced it. Five weeks because there are five of us in the class. I went first, and chose The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I wanted to go with something that spoke to me, a movie that matters to me. And within the constraints of the class, TRHPS seemed like my best bet.

I am under no illusions that TRHPS is a great movie. Or even a good one. But I love it anyway. The two primary reasons for that are (1) I saw it at just the right point in my life for it to work its way into my head; and (2) The music.

There are, what, a dozen songs in the soundtrack? And not a bad one in the bunch. Sarandon's lustful "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me," And Tim Curry's equally lustful "I Can Make You a Man." And, during the floor show, there's the longing when Tim sings:

What ever happened to Fay Wray?
That delicate satin-draped frame?
As it clung to her thigh
How I started to cry.
'Cos I wanted to be dressed just the same.

And, while he's singing that, I'm tempted to call out comments about Ms. Wray being buried in ape shit.

I love the clever wordplay so evident in "Dammit Janet" and "Sweet Transvestite," and the energy of "The Time Warp" and "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul."

Keith noted that the movie musical had, as a form, reached a dead end, and TRHPS, love it or hate it, guided the form into a whole new direction.

I can't say that the others in the class loved the movie, but they were glad to have seen it. The consensus was that the music was great, but the plot was lacking and it was hard for the guys to identify with the characters.

I can't really argue with that.

Next year I'll show Shock Treatment, the non-sequel.

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