“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (1975) dir. Jim Sharman, scr. Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman

It’s Halloween time and I guess it’s now appropriate to talk about “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” the most famous “Midnight Movie” of all-time.  The term “Midnight Movie” will likely be alien to anyone born after 1975 or so, but in the days before cable TV, VCRs, DVD players, Blu-Ray, streaming, etc. … most people could only see movies in actual movie theaters.  And many theaters would host special midnight screenings of certain films that weren’t playing during the daylight or early evening hours because the special nature of such films would bring out a certain crowd of (mainly young) night owls looking for fun on a Friday and Saturday night.  These films were often ones that would not appeal to either older adults or young kids … they were aimed at teenagers and hip young adults.

“Rocky Horror” may not have been the first “Midnight Movie” blockbuster, but it was the most famous.  It was a film adaptation of a very popular British rock musical from the early 1970s called “The Rocky Horror Show.”  A Broadway adaptation in the mid-1970s flopped, but a version staged in Los Angeles at Lou Adler’s Roxy Theater was a big success.  Based on the popularity of the LA version, Adler convinced 20th Century Fox to pony up for a film adaptation.  With the exception of LA, the film flopped just as badly as the original Broadway version.  But … something curious started happening in New York City.  The film was booked into some midnight screenings in NYC after its main theatrical run and a small, but devoted group of fans started coming to screenings every week.  They became so familiar with the film that they started having fun with it … talking back to the screen, dancing in the aisles during the frequent musical numbers, and ultimately, dressing up like the characters.  Word started to spread about this phenomenon and more people started to attend screenings not just in NYC … but in every major city in North America.  Soon, 20th Century Fox had a major hit on their hands.  Over the past 40 years, the film has grossed … adjusted for inflation … the equivalent of $447 million, according to Box Office Mojo, making it the 73rd most popular film of all-time, behind “Lawrence of Arabia” and … ironically … before “Rocky.”

I finally saw “Rocky Horror” in the fall of 1985 at the Naro Expanded Cinema in Norfolk, Virginia, a terrific venue for seeing the film because unlike other theaters in the area, they let people throw rice, shoot water pistols, dance in the aisles, etc.  The only rule is that no one could throw anything at the screen, but otherwise … anything went.  The experience was a blast and I wound up going back at least 4 more times, including a very memorable Halloween screening in 1987 where … I kid you not … a black man wearing a full Ku Klux Klan outfit strutted to the front of the theater … which had everyone convulsing in hysterics.

As fun as those screenings were … it was a screening a few months later that ended the fun for me.  In retrospect, it was a stupid thing to get sour about, but it was an event that put a damper on my enjoyment for many years.  As I was shouting things at the screen with the rest of the audience, some “Rocky Horror” “fan” in the other aisle started loudly criticizing me for what I was shouting out.  I guess I was saying things that were no longer “cool” at a “Rocky Horror” screening because … well … my life didn’t revolve around the film as much as it did for this person.  And it was at this moment that I thought “I may not be cool … but I’m much cooler that this nerd” and that, my friends, was that.  I never attended another screening and it was years before I watched it again on video because I held the film and its “cult” audience in contempt for being as elitist as the people they escaped from every Friday and Saturday night to have some fun. I later realized that I was letting one fascist geek ruin a genuinely fun event and I warmed to the film again when I picked up a Special Edition DVD at Target for a ridiculously low $5.

My feelings about the film today?  It’s not a great film, by any means.  There’s many rock musicals that are much better, specifically the gender-bending rock art films “Velvet Goldmine” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”  Yet as much as “Goldmine” and “Hedwig” are better films than “Rocky Horror,” they aren’t nearly as much fun.   “Rocky Horror” is still playing midnight screenings in the US and while I don’t know what’s allowed and what’s not at such screenings these days (I can only imagine the screenings are much more conservative), I would love to take my kids to a screening because I’m sure it’ll be way more fun than any theater experience they’ve ever had.

If you’re a fan … or curious about the phenomenon … you are encouraged to check out the terrific, nearly 4-hour podcast about the film from The Projection Booth at the link below:

http://projection-booth.blogspot.com/2014/10/special-report-rocky-horror-picture-show.html

And here’s some links to some of the more memorable songs from the film:

“The Time Warp”

“Sweet Transvestite”

“Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul”

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“Rock of all Ages” – Badfinger

Badfinger unleashes a loud, nasty raver with shouted vocals and pumping piano.  From the “Magic Christian Music” album (and from the Peter Sellers-starring film), this virtually unknown song (at least these days) should be in heavy rotation on classic rock radio.

“John Cale” 1998 BBC Documentary

Here’s yet another terrific BBC documentary … this time about one of my favorite musical/cultural icons, John Cale.  People tend to think that Lou Reed was the dark lord of the Velvet Underground, but these same people often forget that once Cale left the group, the Velvets recorded the considerably more mellow self-titled 3rd album and “Loaded.”  On his own, Cale continued to record beautiful, but frequently disturbing music, as well as producing some of the most influential bands of all-time (Nico, The Stooges, Patti Smith, The Modern Lovers).  A fantastic overview of one of the most under-appreciated geniuses of modern music.

“Shock Value” dir. Dino Everett (2014)

Jason Zinoman’s 2011 book “Shock Value” was a fascinating look at the creation of several transgressive and classic horror films of the 1970s that not only redefined the genre, but Hollywood as a whole (“Night of the Living Dead,” “Last House on the Left,” “The Exorcist,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Halloween,” “Alien” to name a few). One of the best parts of Zinoman’s book was in exploring the roots of these films and filmmakers, specifically film students at the University of Southern California (USC) during the early 1970s. Many of these student films were horror-themed and many of these films either influenced these great films or whose filmmakers went on to play an integral part in Hollywood later.

USC Cinema Archivist Dino Everett has assembled many of these classic (but not seen for years) short films for his new feature-length anthology called “Shock Value.” Among the films featured are: two versions of Dan O’Bannon’s “Blood Bath” short and “Good Morning Dad,” John Carpenter’s “Captain Voyeur,” Charles Adair’s “The Demon,” and Terrence Winkless’s “Judson’s Release.”  While I’m excited to see all of these, I am most eager to see “Judson’s Release,” which was written by Alec Lorimore. I saw “Judson’s” many years ago on HBO and it scared me to death. The plot later formed the basis for the popular film “When a Stranger Calls” and while “Stranger” had its effective moments, “Judson’s” was much more terrifying.

The film just premiered at USC last week and should be hitting theaters and film festivals in the coming months. Dave says check it out!

For more information about “Shock Value,” there’s a great overview at the link below:

http://uschefnerarchive.com/project/shock-value-the-movie/

“Don’t Change” – Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen brilliantly covers my favorite INXS song.  If someone put a gun to my head, I’d still favor the INXS version, but this is a terrific cover … full of passion, power, and energy.  This was recorded live in Sydney from February 2014.   This performance also features Steve Van Zandt and Tom Morello on guitar.

“Bitch in the Pit” – Body Count

You’d think that after having a music career that’s spanned more than 30 years and an acting career that’s spanned over 20 years, Ice-T has mellowed with age.   Not only has he not mellowed, but he still is releasing brain-melting thrash metal albums with his band Body Count.  Here’s one that came out a few months ago … and it’s one for the ladies.   Some people may be offended by the word “bitch,” but this song is anything but an insult.  It’s a shout-out to the women who hang tough in the crowd and like to slam and mosh as much as the guys.  From their 2014 album “Manslaughter.”

Happy Birthday Dave’s Strange Radio!

candle-topped-birthday-cupcake1

Dave’s Strange Radio celebrates its 1st birthday today.  A very heartfelt thanks to everyone who has tuned in and supported us during the past year. The best is yet to come. Stay tuned…

What is Dave’s Strange Radio?  Why it’s the greatest radio station in the world.  It’s a mix of garage punk, hardcore, classic rock, alternative, prog rock, folk, outlaw country, soul, and all kinds of weirdness in between and outside the margins. From the Rolling Stones to Roxy Music, from Iggy to Ike & Tina, from Brian Eno to the Butthole Surfers, from the Doors to the Devil Dogs, from the New York Dolls to the New Bomb Turks, we’ve got you covered. Warning: some of the material is not work or family friendly.

You can enjoy Dave’s Strange Radio in many ways …

At our official homebase: http://www.davesstrangeradio.com

You can also find us in the following places:

iTunes Web: You can find us in iTunes as an official iTunes radio station. When you open iTunes, go to Music, then Internet. You can find us under the Eclectic subheading.

TuneIn Radio: You can find us at the following link through TuneIn Radio:

http://tunein.com/radio/Daves-Strange-Radio-s218280/

iPhone/iPad/Android phone/Kindle Fire: The best way to experience Dave’s Strange Radio on your mobile device is through the free TuneIn Radio app. Just type in “Dave’s Strange Radio” into the search engine and then select the heart to add us to your favorites. Here you can get album art, as well as links to purchase the song you’re listening to. You can also access us through the free SHOUTCast app (though not on the Kindle Fire).

Apple TV: We are an official station on iTunes radio that you can stream through your Apple TV box. Find us in the Eclectic section under “Dave’s Strange Radio”.

Roku: You can enjoy Dave’s Strange Radio either through the free TuneIn Radio app or through the free SHOUTCast app.

vTuner:  We are an official vTuner radio station.  If you have this app on your audio receiver, smart TV, car stereo, game console, or tablet, please tune us in and let us know how we’re sounding!

Be sure to follow us on Twitter: @DStrangeRadio

The “Free Bird” climax from “The Devil’s Rejects” (2005) dir. Rob Zombie

This is the climax from Rob Zombie’s best film, “The Devil’s Rejects.”  “Rejects” is a throwback to the nasty, gritty, and extremely political indie horror classics from the 1970s (“Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Dawn of the Dead”) and like its 70s horror film brethren, Zombie’s film directly comments on the political state of America and its foreign policy circa the mid-2000s.  The family of killers on display in “Rejects” may be vile, but the law enforcement sent to hunt them down are arguably equally as vile.  This is the film’s climax set to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” and it’s a brilliant use of this song as the gang  goes up against the equally morally compromised police.  I can’t imagine a more 70s ending for a film.  In other words, f–king great!

Roy Batty’s death scene from “Blade Runner” (1982) dir. Ridley Scott

One of the saddest and most beautiful moments in movie history.  This is the scene from “Blade Runner” where the film’s ostensible “villain” Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer) saves the life of the film’s hero Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) and delivers a brief, but moving monologue before dying:

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain. Time to die.”

The first 25 minutes of “When a Stranger Calls” (1980) dir. Fred Walton

Since I can’t find the legendary USC film school short from 1971 “Judson’s Release” by Terence H. Winkless (which is a much better representation of this infamous urban legend), I’ll have to provide this clip instead from the 1980 film “When a Stranger Calls.”  Granted, this is a VERY effective opening to a film.  It’s so good that the rest of the film doesn’t compare to the first 25 minutes.  But if you’ve ever been a babysitter … or hired one at some point … this is one of the scariest things you’ll ever see.