Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Hello, boils and ghouls! October is upon us and that means one thing: HALLOWEEN! While most holidays get a measly day or two of formal recognition, orthodox Monster Kids prefer to celebrate it in the tradition of our people: By watching tons of horror movies. This month at THE COLLINSPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY, we're going to be discussing some of our favorites every day until Halloween. So, put on your 3-D spex, pop some popcorn and turn out the lights .... because we're going to the movies!


It’s 1993, and I’m standing outside a nightclub talking to Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult.

My own band had just broken up, which essentially decimated my social circle. I was depressed, but not so much that I was going to miss one of BOC’s rare visits to town. The last time I’d seen the band, though, two cars were needed to carry us all to the venue. This time, I drove alone. My hair was down past my shoulders, and I wore a black leather motorcycle jacket and matching boots. God only knows what Buck Dharma thought as I sprinted toward him in the darkness as he walked to his car after the show.

The club’s name at the time was Rocky’s, and was located on Independence Boulevard. The establishment had changed hands and names so often that I've long since lost track of its spiraling personality disorder.  I think Public Enemy was on the bill the week before BOC played the club, which should give you an example of how effed up this place was. It’s since been torn down.

At this point you’re probably asking yourself, “What does Blue Oyster Cult have to do with Rocky Horror?” The answer? Not a goddamn thing.

EXCEPT: Next door to Rocky’s was an old theater called the Silver Screen Café, which was once Charlotte’s hot spot for midnight movies. Frozen on its roadside sign were the names of the final films it showed before going out of business. One of them was HEAVY METAL, for which BOC coincidentally contributed a song. The other was THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. It felt like a convergence of my two favorite obsessions, only a little too late.

By this point, I loved ROCKY HORROR as much as a person could without having actually seen it in a theater, which is an essential component of the film’s function. With ROCKY HORROR, audience participation represents about 70 percent of the experience, and I was acutely aware that I was missing out. So much so that, 20 years later, the memory of Silver Screen Café’s derelict sign still sorta haunts me. “THE MOVIE WAS HERE, BUT YOU MISSED IT.”

I wouldn’t get to see ROCKY HORROR in a theater until much, much later. It's not that I've never been in the same town as a ROCKY HORROR screening. There just always seemed to be social barriers between me and the film, which is understandable when you're an underage military brat. Asking an adult (especially one in that kind of culture) to take me to something like ROCKY HORROR would have been like asking them to sit with me on a float at a Gay Pride Parade. I’ve since come to value my status as Honorary Homosexual, but teenage me felt a great deal of anxiety about such things.

I'd first seen ads for ROCKY HORROR in newspapers in the late 1970s in Virginia, but the imagery was confusing. The logo looked like that of a horror movie (it even had the word “horror” in the title) but what was the story with those lips? On the off chance that I’d accidentally initiate a conversation with an adult about a porno film, I kept my curiosity to myself.  A few years later, I came across an article about the ROCKY HORROR phenomenon in an issue of STARBURST, published near the release of quasi-sequel SHOCK TREATMENT. The image of Tim Curry in drag, with his finger stuck in Peter Hinwood’s navel, didn’t exactly dispel my confusion. Where was the “horror” in ROCKY HORROR? What was I looking at?

So, flash forward to the night of my 15th birthday. I was at a mall, and a pocket full of cash was burning a hole in my pocket. There must have been some kind of “thing” happening that night, because the place was full of fly-by-night vendors selling all kinds of weird crap. When I went home that night, tucked under my arm were one-sheets of BACK TO THE FUTURE and INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM.

Also in my clutches was a copy of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION ALBUM. I had no idea what I was getting myself in for.

The album was recorded with a live audience during a screening of the film, and was the most vulgar thing I’d ever experienced (at the time.) There was a feeling of chaos on the album that was a little terrifying.  It sounded like outright anarchy, only it wasn't. While everyone was screaming their lungs out, they seemed to be doing so in chorus with each other.

And it was hilarious.

For parental security reasons I had to listen to this album with headphones on. I was also left wondering about some of the gags that obviously involved on-screen queues. But I was intrigued, and have loved the movie ever since ... even if I didn't actually watch the movie until the inevitable home video release around 1990.

It wasn’t until 2010 that I got to see the film in a real theater, with a real live audience. I caught THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW at the Terrace Theater in Charleston, S.C., in August that year. Despite the punishing thunderstorm that hit that night, it was a record turn-out for the monthly screening. I had a blast, and spent the next six months making monthly treks to the coast for later screenings. (The group that stages these “shadowcasts” is called Back Row Productions, and you can find them on Facebook.)

But, things had changed since ROCKY HORROR’s glory days in the early ’80s. There were all new “lines,” squirt guns had morphed into Super Soakers, and the “props” prone to attracting roaches (hot dogs, bread, rice, etc.) were no longer a part of proceedings. It was like I was seeing the film for the first time, and I felt at home in that theater in a way I can’t completely explain.

Even better, the “shadowcast” that hosted the monthly screening used an actual print of the movie, not just a DVD. As a reward for my decades of patience, that print was the uncut UK edition of the film, complete with the song “Superheroes.” If I felt a moment of isolation during the event, it was in my surprise that nobody else seemed to think that was a big deal.

I mean, that was a big deal, right?

WALLACE McBRIDE is editor of the Collinsport Historical Society.

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