Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to Watch a B Movie

Two disclaimers: I read my brainmate's post before watching the movie and I wasn't in the best mood while watching (although I've seen this one a million times before).

But, even though I've seen this a million times before and got a quick refresher from the recent Glee episode, I'd forgotten most of the movie. When I watched the Rocky Horror Glee my one complaint was that the episode wasn't just all Rocky Horror--that they didn't just recreate the movie within the episode. I retract that complaint. What Glee did was effectively pull the interesting and memorable portions of the film and create a shorter narrative that works, and, possibly, works better than the film itself.

My brainmate admitted to liking the first 40-50 minutes. I think I'd cut it off at 30. As soon as the elevator opened on the super "futuristic" laboratory, I was less than enthralled. But, that also makes a certain amount of sense given the sorts of movies I gravitate toward. I don't do cult sci-fi movies. Creature from the Black Lagoon? Nope. Godzilla? Tolerable but, eh. Metropolis? Shoot me now. So creating a "man" (who randomly comes out with some WAY low-waisted gold shorts and matching gold shoes)? Not that interesting to me. And the resulting alien situation wasn't super interesting either. I'd much rather watch a shiny song and dance movie. "Time Warp"? Totally my cup of tea.

Back around to my partner-in-crime's post and her comment about the film being about watching movies. I think that's right on target. The opening song is all about cult sci-fi movies: The Day the Earth Stood Still, King Kong, The Invisible Man, Flash Gordon, It Came from Outer Space, Tarantula, The Day of the Triffids, Curse of the Demon, When Worlds Collide, and The Time Machine are all referenced either outright or via actors. Wikipedia actually has an article about it--although it seems less than complete--that shows how parts of these films are then used in Rocky Horror. I'd like to read the article referenced, though (from Vera Dika's Recycled Culture in Contemporary Art and Film). So, Rocky Horror shows the viewer how these "transgressions" and sexualities have appeared on film before--in B movies--and is both a tribute and a send-up of those B movies.

The Criminologist/Narrator strikes me as a familiar sort of archetype but I can't place it. Regardless, he adds a sort of "normalcy" to the film and a figurative and literal instruction manual for Rocky Horror as well as B movies in general. He tells us what a B movie should have and how Rocky Horror is like those movies and making fun of those movies simultaneously AND, in essence, how we should view these movies. It's as if the viewer is being told, "This is a B movie. Watch the B movie and only expect a B movie" (something a LOT of movie critics need to be told about various genres--just substitute whatever genre you'd like for "B" but it's most often "action" and "rom com"). And, he literally gives us instruction on how to dance the "Time Warp."

So, what says 1001Movies? Well, for starters it says that Dr. Everett Scott narrates the film. Um, no--that would be our beloved Criminologist. But, why should we watch this one before we die? More or less, because everyone else has. The basic reasoning is that we should watch because Rocky Horror is the longest running film; it's been in theaters since it's release. At least the book is honest.


  1. Ooh, I like your point about the criminologist being an instructor/film professor. I do think there's something to the dryness with which he explains the Time Warp and the balls-to-the-wall delight with which the participants experience it. However, maybe he's not the Foucauldian superego that I first pegged him to be. Though I always sort of assumed the "crime" being investigated was the transgressive sex that took place that night, it's far more likely that it's Frank's murder, which makes him sort of a good guy. Is that how you read it?

  2. I don't think I was thinking of him as good or bad--more impartial and almost completely sans emotion. Oh, right, Frank's murder makes more sense. I didn't think of that either--oops!