They Came From Denton High

 
 

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical comedy horror film directed by Jim Sharman. The screenplay was written by Sharman and Richard O’Brien based on the 1973 eponymous musical stage production, also written by O’Brien. The production is a humorous tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1930s through early 1970s. It stars Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre and Belasco Theatre productions. The film production retains many aspects from the stage version such as production design and music, but features new scenes added not in the stage play. The originally proposed opening sequence was to contain clips of various films mentioned in the lyrics, as well as the first few sequences shot in black and white, but this was deemed too expensive, and scrapped.

Although largely ignored upon release, it soon gained notoriety as a midnight movie when audiences began participating with the film at the Waverly Theater in New York City in 1976. Audience members returned to the cinemas frequently and talked back to the screen and began dressing as the characters, spawning similar performance groups across the United States. Still in limited release nearly four decades after its premiere, it has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. Today, the film has a large international cult following and is one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time.

Richard O’Brien, a Briton raised in New Zealand, was living in London as an unemployed actor in the early 1970s. He wrote most of The Rocky Horror Show during one winter just to occupy himself. Since his youth, O’Brien had loved science fiction and B horror movies. He wanted to combine elements of the unintentional humour of B horror movies, portentous dialogue of schlock-horror, Steve Reeves muscle flicks and fifties rock and roll into his musical.

 
 

Dr. Frank N Furter (Tim Curry) displays Rocky (Peter Hinwood), his Adonis-like humanoid creation, to visitors Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick)

 
 

O’Brien showed a portion of the unfinished script to Australian director Jim Sharman, who decided to direct it at the small experimental space Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, Chelsea, which was used as a project space for new work. O’Brien had appeared briefly in Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s Jesus Christ Superstar, directed by Sharman and the two also worked together in Sam Shepard‘s The Unseen Hand. Sharman would bring in production designer Brian Thomson. The original creative team was then rounded out by costume designer Sue Blane and musical director Richard Hartley, and stage producer Michael White was also brought in to produce. As the musical went into rehearsal, the working title, They Came from Denton High, was changed just before previews at the suggestion of Sharman to The Rocky Horror Show.

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Hungry for Music

 
 

The Hunger (Tony Scott, 1983), starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, and Susan Sarandon, is the story of a love triangle between a doctor who specializes in sleep and ageing research and a vampire couple. The film is a loose adaptation of the 1981 novel of the same name by Whitley Strieber, with a screenplay by Ivan Davis and Michael Thomas.

Howard Blake was musical director on The Hunger. Although a soundtrack has been available since the film’s release this issue omits much of the music used in the film. Blake also composed the orchestral score for Flash Gordon (Mike Hodges, 1980) alongside rock band Queen, and the Oscar winning animated short film of Raymond Briggs‘, The Snowman (1982).

Bowie was excited to work on the film, but was concerned about the final product. He said “I must say, there’s nothing that looks like it on the market. But I’m a bit worried that it’s just perversely bloody at some points.”

The Hunger was not particularly well-received upon its initial release, and was attacked by many critics for being heavy on atmosphere and visuals but slow on pace and plot. Roger Ebert, of the Chicago Sun-Times, described the film as “an agonizingly bad vampire movie”. Camille Paglia writes that The Hunger comes close to being a masterpiece of a “classy genre of vampire film”, but that it is “ruined by horrendous errors, as when the regal Catherine Deneuve is made to crawl around on all fours, slavering over cut throats.”

However, the film has found a cult following that responded to its dark, glamorous atmosphere. The Bauhaus song Bela Lugosi’s Dead plays over the introductory credits and beginning. The film is popular with some segments of the goth subculture and inspired a short-lived TV series of the same name. On 23 September 2009, Warner Bros. announced it planned a remake of the film with the screenplay written by Whitley Strieber.

 
 

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