There’s something to say about an event that can take place year after year and still continue to draw hundreds of guests for numerous showings. This not only reflects the quality of the show, but the enthusiasm of Montreal locals as well, and as a first time attendee, I was about to witness both. For those of you who have never been before, here’s an inside look.
Halloween was in the air on Thursday night outside Cinéma Impérial while guests of the Rocky Horror Picture Show arrived and waited in anticipation to be welcomed inside for this year’s first showing. Keeping warm under the red pot lights and smoking cigarettes, spectators, new and old, donned fishnets and corsets under their fall coats. The real sight to see however, were the diehard fans who dressed up to the max in either their finest lingerie and elaborate makeup and hairstyles or in costumes of the film’s main characters.
The positive atmosphere was completely intoxicating. Upon entering the venue, dolled up guests gathered in the foyer to reunite with friends, check out each others’ costumes and purchase Rocky Horror memorabilia or snacks for the show.
Guests could be seen socializing in their seats before the show, dancing to some Cyndi Lauper, and bonding over the film. This sense of community continued throughout the entire night when spectators yelled at the screen in unison and at one point on screen was a sign that read “Denton, the home of happiness” and on stage the cast presented a sign that read “Montreal, the home of Rocky”.
Michael, a 4th time attendee, explained to me why Rocky Horror is so central to Montreal’s Halloween scene: “Montreal is already so accepting but Rocky Horror is ‘be who you are to the next level’ […] it’s really a Montreal Halloween rite of passage.” First timer Stevie watches the movie every year with her family and after hearing about how wild the live show is, she felt that “it was finally time” to attend.
Plastik Patrik presented the night’s costume contest and the cast who proceeded to ask all the Rocky virgins to stand up so they could yell back at them “F*#K YOU!”. This was my primary introduction to what this night would really be about: vulgarity and comedy in its highest form.
A live acrobat commenced the show while the opening credits rolled onto the screen and presented the iconic Rocky Horror red lips. The voice over made the show, provided the crudest yet wittiest remarks on the film, and even some Montreal-specific jokes, acting as comic relief for an otherwise cheesy film. The onstage cast enhanced the film on the screen with impeccable synchronization and vulgar interpretations of the original film that you wouldn’t get watching at home.
The use of props by the crowd throughout the performance kind of make you question where exactly you are. Inside the historical Cinéma Impérial’s vaudeville style theatre, you would expect a classy performance. Once the spectators start throwing toast during the performance, it really starts to feel like the high school rebellious food fight you always dreamed of but never realized.
There’s a reason why the Rocky Horror Picture Show is a Halloween must year after year and it is truly something that one must experience for themselves. Whether you’re a diehard fan or a Rocky virgin like myself, it’s a guaranteed wild night.