The Rocky Horror Picture Show is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year as the #1 cult movie in not only America, but also worldwide. Richard O’ Brien’s campy musical homage to retro sci-fi and horror mixed with a healthy dose of sexual freedom was a huge hit on the stage, but studio Twentieth Century Fox had no idea how to market the film version to a mainstream audience once they made it.
Remember, this was 1975, and the basis of their movie was a transvestite mad scientist who creates a hunky man to be his personal plaything, and also manages to seduce an innocent all-American couple into his lascivious ways. You can hardly blame Fox for marketing the film as a midnight movie. Luckily, it turned out to be the right thing to do; in just about every major city in America, Rocky is still playing at midnight on Saturday, some forty years after the fact.
Now BBC America is helping celebrate Rocky’s big Four-Oh, not only of the film but of the international tour of the original stage play, The Rocky Horror Show. A brand new two-hour gala performance from the stage of London’s Playhouse Theatre premieres Saturday, October 18, starring original show creator, Richard O’Brien as The Narrator, and guest Narrators Stephen Fry, Anthony Head, Adrian Edmondson, Emma Bunton and Mel Giedroyc. Yes, you read right: Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a former Spice Girl doing Rocky. How can you miss that? An encore Halloween midnight airing follows a full day of Doctor Who-lloween, on October 31.
This isn’t the only Rocky Horror Show revival planned for television, though. Back in April, Fox announced they were attempting to re-do the show for network TV, which seems absurd given the subject matter. We haven’t heard a peep about it since the announcement, so maybe the negative backlash from fans caused the project to get scrapped. Certainly, BBC America seems a much better fit overall.
Show creator (and original Riff Raff) Richard O’ Brien said of his long-running show, “I’m still in awe at the popularity of the show. I wrote something I thought I might like to go see and it’s now lived successfully for more than 40 years in theaters around the world. Jumping on stage to bring the original show back to life has been an amazing experience. I hope audiences continue to have as much fun with it as I am.”
The Rocky Horror Show premieres at midnight on Sunday October 18 (so you might also consider it Saturday night) on BBC America.
IMAGE: Twentieth Century Fox