Rob Weiner discusses the film’s impact 40 years after it was released.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” first premiered in 1975 and has become a staple in popular culture. This weekend the film celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Rob Weiner, a humanities and popular culture librarian at Texas Tech University, still remembers the first time he saw the film, even though he was 15 years old, calling it a rite of passage.
“I remember the first time, I went when I shouldn't have, I was like 15,” the pop culture guru said. “I still remember it. I hated it because I didn't get it. My mind was not mature enough to understand what was going on, but I remember it to this day. It's kind of a rite of passage and it's something a lot of people still are expected to know and experience.”
Though the film was first released in theaters in 1975, Weiner said it is still being played in theaters. The film had a regular release, but Weiner called it a sleeper movie, explaining it caught on as a midnight movie, which then caused it to become a cult classic where the audience brought props, talked back to the screen and started to cosplay.
“Some have argued that ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show' is one of the longest movies in continuous release in history, that somewhere on the planet even today, since it was released in 1975, it's being shown in a theater,” Weiner said. “Whether that's true or not, I don't know, but it certainly says something about the power of community in some sense.
“‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show' was a film that united people in the same way a Comic-Con unites people, or a ‘Star Trek' convention or a gaming convention or ‘Star Wars.' You think about it, it is very odd because it is a film people cosplay for when the term cosplay didn't exist. In terms of its cultural impact, there you have it. It's a cult film, but it's really not. It's a musical and it's a really bizarre movie.”
Weiner said there's nothing like watching the film at a midnight showing, which is why “Rocky Horror” continues to be part of popular culture. The film has attempted sequels and has influenced other audience participation movies, including “The Room,” but has not been surpassed by anything similar.
“There have been attempts at rekindling the success,” Weiner said. “‘Rocky Horror' was kind of a fluke and has not been surpassed by anything really in the same way. In that regard it's an anomaly in terms of its impact on the history of popular culture and the history of cinema. You could look to other benchmarks and say ‘Yes, these are important' but there are other films that people say, ‘Well, this happened here, but ‘Rocky Horror' has never really been surpassed in that way. And the fact that it's still being shown continually somewhere in the world speaks to its relevance and influence 40 years later.”