The Set List
By Brain Wasburn
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
It’s that time of year again. Time for young and old alike to put on their face and mingle with friends until the drinks are all gone. No it’s not Christmas. Unfortunately that so-over-the-top-it’s-annoying holiday is on its way, too. But now, it’s Halloween time.
Halloween usually means horror movies, candy and good and bad costumes, but it also has a unique history with music, and no, I will not mention Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” … except for that reference.
Halloween music ranges from the creepy, satanic-esque death metal that our mothers always warned us about to the always fun (if you hear it only once every three years) “Ghostbuster’s” theme song. But Halloween needs a soundtrack and it just so happens the Halloween soundtrack comes from a movie, probably the greatest non-horror Halloween movie of all time: “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
While the movie is creepy, bizarre and an iconic cult classic, it’s the music that really makes any Halloween experience a fun one. The musical numbers begin with “Science Fiction/Double Feature” then on to “Dammit Janet” before moving on to “Over at the Frankenstein Place,” where the movie’s protagonists finally reach the castle where the entire movie will take place. This is where the musical numbers kick it up a notch and it begins with the most popular song of the entire movie: “The Time Warp.”
It’s a fun little dance number enjoyed by those who know the dance moves, which is not hard because they are cemented into the song’s lyrics. “The Time Warp” should be up there with the “Monster Mash” and “Ghostbusters” on the perfect Halloween soundtrack. Hell, the premise is people at a costume ball dancing in a creepy castle while awaiting a doctor in drag and his monster creation, who may or may not be Hulk Hogan with hair and no mustache.
Although “The Time Warp” is one of the high points of Rocky Horror’s musical numbers, “Sweet Transvestite” has Tim Curry in drag like he is the star of his own burlesque show in Vegas. It’s the most bizarre song on the soundtrack. It’s really genius when you think of the creativity writer/lyricist/star Richard O’Brien put into the music. The way the musical numbers tell backstories and move the plot forward is a classic musical element and trick, but O’Brien wrote it so you think you’re listening to a pop song and not reliving past events and foreshadowing these character’s lives.
Other songs in the movie can be hit or miss, but they do work well with the tone and mood of the movie, as well as the movies theatrical timing in the mid ’70s.
And just when you think the drag, the creation and party guests are going to live it up all night, without a clue as to what their plans might be, Meat Loaf shows up. Yes, that Meat Loaf, but in a good way, like a Bat Out Of Hell and not the thousands of sequels he tried to release afterward.
Meat Loaf’s rendition of “Hot Patootie Bless My Soul” is another high point in this group of songs, with a jazzy rock ‘n’ roll melody and a pretty bitchin’ saxophone solo. Of course the solo does come right before he is brutally mur … oh sorry, never mind.
The rest of the film is laden with up-tempo numbers with pop songs reminiscent of Britain in the ’70s (“Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch me”), and tunes you would likely find on a Vegas stage (“I Can Make You A Man”) and a few confounding melodies (“Eddie”).
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” might not be the perfect Halloween movie because of its lack of excessive gore and little-to-no frightening moments. But for music lovers on this most joyous of holidays, it offers a good time for partygoers who want to get down and have a good time in a gigantic, creepy castle with monsters, aliens and transgender. After all, it is just a jump to the left.