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Dave Thompson Talks Rocky Horror with Wicked Horror

Dave Thompson, author of The Rocky Horror Picture Show FAQ, sat down with Wicked Horror to discuss the book just in time for the Fox production, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, airing October 20th. The interview covered the history of Rocky Horror and the show continuing its notoriety in the future.


00139671You’ve written over 100 books at this point in your career, many about pop culture, so this is probably old hat for you, but what was your process like writing and researching for RHPS: FAQ?

 I’ll be dating myself, but I first saw Rocky when I was 13 in the 1970s. I passed the signs for this spectacular looking thing and was curious. I remember going to school after seeing it and telling my friends how I had just seen the most amazing thing. I’ve always wanted to write a Rocky book. Since then I’ve been squirreling away information.

What was the most challenging aspect?

 The chronology. I spent weeks trying to find dates and to compare them with dates in other databases. Finding details for the early stuff–and the discography! That was difficult. I’d find out something like Reg Livermore, who was Frank in the earliest Australian production of Rocky, released an album. Then I’d dedicate time to finding that record. Sometimes I would finally find something like that and it would be like “…Oh.”

I’m sure you’ve come across some amazing renditions of Rocky in your research. Fan-created works, especially.

Oh yes. One of the best versions I’ve seen was a small production in my college town. They did a brilliant job with it.

Given the extensive history and numerous versions of Rocky, what are your thoughts on the upcoming Rocky Horror Picture Show TV re-imagining?

I like that. You chose your wording very carefully. You likely think the same thing I do about the new version. It could be good. I’ve seen versions where there is too much focus on certain parts. I remember seeing the scene on stage the first time where Frank goes to Brad and Janet in their boudoir and it being shocking–everyone in the audience being shocked by that scene. Now some performances will deliver an iconic line, mumble mumble to the next shocking line, mumble mumble mumble through the next scene.


Read the rest of the interview here.

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Rocky Horror Excerpt – Happy Birthday, Joan Jett!

Joan Jett, who played Columbia in the 2000 Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, turns 54 today.

The following is an excerpt of The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music on Film by Dave Thompson (Limelight Editions) as posted on the author’s website.

It’s a scene that plays out every night across America, and across a large chunk of the rest of the world too.  A tiny and probably downtrodden movie theater parked away in a back street somewhere, clinging on to life with a handful of screens where others might boast dozens; and luring in the locals not with the glitz and blitz of the modern movie-going experience (hard seats, handkerchief screens, overpriced popcorn and so on and so forth) but with a chance to remember when going to the movies was fun.

The days when the décor was flash and the usherettes smiled, and the ice-cream lady had a tray around her neck.

The days when you went to the movies because you wanted to, not because you’d been bludgeoned into submission by wall-to-wall advertising.

The days when you took a chance on an unknown, and it changed your life, rather than sitting through the blockbusters because nothing changed at all.

And the days when you didn’t just shrug and say you’d wait for something to come out on DVD, because there were no DVDs in those days, or home video rentals either.  You saw a movie when the movie house screened it, then you waited for them to screen it again.  And if sufficient people demanded it, it might come around again next year.  Or next month.  Or next week.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show comes around every week.

Keep reading this excerpt on Dave Thompson’s website

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is simultaneously one of the iconographic touchstones of 1970s cinema, and a timeless romp that appeals equally to every fresh generation. Created with a sharp eye for cult and context alike, Rocky Horror leaped effortlessly from stage to celluloid, losing none of its immediacy and spontaneity in the process – and maybe gathering more. Dave Thompson goes deep inside the phenomenon to trace the story and the strangeness that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Music on Film: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Dave Thompson is the author of The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music on Film. Below is an excerpt from his book as posted on bookgasm.com.

THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW was the brainchild of an actor who was essentially forced out of the London production of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR when he suggested that King Herod (for whom he was understudy) be played as Elvis Presley. The producers, whose hands were on both the tiller and the purse strings, preferred him to tap dance. Neither party would budge, and Richard O’Brien quit the religious rock biz on the spot.

He filled his suddenly vacant time by writing a rock ’n’ roll musical that would allow Elvis full rein, penning songs around a plotline lifted straight from the 1950s B movies that he loved so much. Born in Cheltenham, England, in 1942, O’Brien was a teen throughout that era, growing up with the infant yowlings of the newborn rock’n’roll and the Cold War paranoia of period Hollywood schlock.

But he was also separated from those influences, not only by the customary dislocation that exists between audience and artist but also by distance. In 1952, when O’Brien was ten, his family relocated to a farm in Taraunga, New Zealand—the other side of the world in terms of geography; the other side of the universe in the realm of culture.

“New Zealand reminds me very much of the American mid-west,” an older O’Brien told journalist Patricia Morrisroe. “There were two movie houses where I grew up. One showed all the latest releases and the other showed all the B-movies. I went to the movies a lot. What else can you do in a small-town parochial society? You see films, you play sports. If you were a bit of a punk like me you hung out in street corners and tried to pick up girls, not very success- fully. The girls wanted to flirt but didn’t want to be picked up. This was the fifties, remember.”

Keep reading on bookgasm

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is simultaneously one of the iconographic touchstones of 1970s cinema, and a timeless romp that appeals equally to every fresh generation. Created with a sharp eye for cult and context alike, Rocky Horror leaped effortlessly from stage to celluloid, losing none of its immediacy and spontaneity in the process – and maybe gathering more. Dave Thompson goes deep inside the phenomenon to trace the story and the strangeness that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.