Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show

Many people say to me in my imagination, “Hey Evil One. How come you’re so serious and cranky and only talk about things you hate which is every thing?”

Well, I respond imaginationarily, “Because I am evil. And also a bit crotchety. But I like things! And stuff! Especially weird stuff.”

It is true. I have a soft spot for films that attempt something heretofore unseen. I can and will harsh on the latest Spiderman blockbuster, because it does exactly what everyone expects it to do. Which is boring. I will be equally forgiving, however, of films that streak naked through your mental streets, yelling, “Look at me! I am so weird you could NEVER HAVE THOUGHT ME UP!”

And then, in this metaphor, that film shakes its cinematic junk in your face and runs off with a handful of your popcorn. So get ready for that.

That’s right. Stop your clucking. It’s…

The Rocky Horror Picture Show*

This is the first film you must watch as part of this week’s Mind Control Double Feature. It is required viewing as of right now.

This film is much more than something your weird uncle used to go see while wearing women’s underpants. It is, really, a very good movie. How good? Well, I’ll tell you: really good. And seriously weird. It’s the seriously weird kind of really good, like eating your first kumquat or attending the Air Guitar National Championships.

That’s what this Mind Control Double Feature is all about: really good and seriously weird genre-blending films.

Eddie's Teddy

If you’re not familiar with Rocky Horror, and never got to see it at a midnight screening full of freaks, you should get on that. The lawyers have cracked down on people throwing things at the screen (spoilsports) but it’s still a sight to behold. Watching Rocky Horror is not the same at home, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it with all of your eyes.

Rocky Horror is some sort of combination science fiction, horror, musical, comedy, romance, thing. It’s like a concoction a third-grader makes out of condiments and dares his school chums to eat, if that third-grader is a serious theater geek with ambiguous sexual preferences.

It also does not make a whole lot of sense, but neither do I, and you’re reading this. So snap!

Here’s what it comes down to:

Exuberance is worth watching. Exuberance is its own reward. Rocky Horror is exuberant. Ergo: you will watch it.

Also, just read the lyrics to the opening song, (while playing the video above):

Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still
But he told us where we stand
And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear
Claude Raines was the invisible man
Then something went wrong for Fay Wray and King Kong
They got caught in a celluloid jam
Then at a deadly pace it came from outer space
And this is how the message ran:

Science Fiction – Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.

I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel
When Tarantula took to the hills
And I really got hot when I saw Janet Scott
Fight a Triffid that spits poison and kills
Dana Andrews said prunes gave him the runes
And passing them used lots of skills
But when worlds collide, said George Pal to his bride
I’m gonna give you some terrible thrills, like a:

Science Fiction – Double Feature
Dr. X will build a creature
See androids fighting Brad and Janet
Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet
Oh-oh at the late night, double feature, picture show.
I wanna go, oh-oh, to the late night double feature picture show.
By RKO, oh-oh, at the late night double feature picture show.
In the back row at the late night double feature picture show.

Do you hear the love for cinema these people are throwing down? Any movie that starts off with call-outs to King Kong, the Invisible Man, the Day the Earth Stood Still, Forbidden Planet, and a dozen more films on our “must see list” deserves your full attention. And while you’re watching those lips pucker at you and feeling a little tingly in your naughty bits, I would like to explain:

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Thats Little Nell (as Columbia), Patricia Quinn (as Magenta), Tim Curry (as Dr. Frank-N-Furter), and yes, Richard O’Brien (as Riff Raff)

Those lips? They belong to Patricia Quinn, who plays Magenta. The voice though? That’s Richard O’Brien. Yeah. They guy who plays Riff Raff. That’s the stringy-haired dude on the right (<–)

O’Brien not only sings this track but he also wrote all the music for the show as well as half the screenplay.

Is it a perfect movie? Oh hells no. Does it have a young Susan Sarandon running about in her near all-together? Oh hells yes. Can you enjoy it warts and all? I suppose we’ll see. Will Tim Curry make you very uncomfortable in the most delicious way? Most likely. Especially now that you cannot stop picturing him in Home Alone 2.

So stop being such a pill. I don’t care what you’ve heard or about your preconceived notions or even what you thought of it when you saw it in high school. This is the longest running theatrical feature OF ALL TIME. Pour yourself a nice tall glass of Chartreuse and watch the damn thing. Boggle at it. Do the Time Warp as instructed. If you can, go see it in a theater with a live cast and a non-jaded audience. Then, when you’re done with that, you’ll need something a lot more sensible.

That would be our second feature…

The American Astronaut

In much the same vein as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the American Astronaut isn’t one thing. It’s a whole mess of things. It’s a western, sci-fi, comedy, musical, romance, buddy picture.

This guy, Cory McAlbee, got it in his head that he wanted to make a movie. He had, it seems, about $35.00, a bunch of time, and some healthy disregard for focus groups. He also had a band, The Billy Nayer Show (get it? Billy-nayer, Billionaire?).

Billy Nayer Show

Anyway, McAlbee made the American Astronaut and he made the fuck out of it. He wrote it. He directed it. He stars in it. He wrote and played the music.

It is oh-so-very-not-perfect. For one thing, I’ll tell you right now, it doesn’t really end so much as it runs full speed into a wall covered in pointy bits. On the other hand, it has the best musical number you will ever see performed in a men’s restroom.

American Astronaut is a black & white paean to old school science fiction movies, with square-jawed heroes and damsels in distress. In that, it’s like Rocky Horror. It’s also like Rocky Horror in that it takes those familiar tropes, dips them in silly sauce, and fries ’em up for lunch.

The American AstronautI tell you, McAlbee is some sort of creative genius. Why? Because he uses all of his ideas even though few of them are traditional. He makes a lot of mistakes, but they’re his and they’re new.

And The American Astronaut is exuberant. It is funny, and shocking, and puzzling, and mandatory.

So. Pour yourself another tall glass of Chartreuse and watch the American Astronaut after you get done watching Rocky Horror. I guaran-damn-tee you that you will not watch either film and then turn to your husband, your Eraserhead baby, or your imaginary iguana and say:

“I saw that coming.”

Because you didn’t.




*Full disclosure: This film has Meat Loaf in it. There is nothing I can do about it. He’s actually, good, though. Or at least well cast.

8 responses on “Late Night, Double Feature, Picture Show

  1. Pingback: Mind Control Double Feature #3: This Time With Feeling | Stand By For Mind Control·

  2. For some reason my mom took me to see Rocky Horror when I was ten. I don’t think she knew what she was doing, but I loved all the audience participation. Going home with rice in my hair was like a badge of honor. I went to numerous screenings in my teens and early twenties, but saw no point in watching it at home as a normal movie. I tried once, and it was boring. Until my thirties. Now I love it as a movie, pure and simple. I’ve watched it three times in the last two years: once in the classroom, to introduce it to a couple of my high school students; once at home, to introduce it to my wife; and, most recently, in my living room, to ground my own sense of sanity upon waking on the morning of the first day of this year. These days I have no desire for the full audience experience. (I haven’t seen The American Astronaut.)

  3. The plugin definitely works; this popped up for me too. I’ve been going to see ‘Rocky Horror’ since I was 16 (a neat trick, since it was a 1h drive to the midnight show and my hometown had a 12am curfew for minors ), and there was a regular cast and people who threw toast and rice at the screen.

    This movie isn’t just one of my completely-not-guilty pleasures; over the years people’s responses to it have become a fair barometer of whether or not I can have an enjoyable conversation with them. (Distaste/outrage merits a mental ‘white-bread-and-Velveeta’ beside the name, and a polite departure.)

    Flashy, oversexed, original, tasteful in terms of the movies referenced, exuberantly tasteless everywhere else–what’s not to love?

Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

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