The Maltese gets wild for ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’


Patricia Quinn (Magenta) lips grace the screen at the beginning of the movie during the Rocky Horror Picture Show viewing at the Maltese on Halloween. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

The cash register clanged as people crowded the bar, bought drinks and cheered for the start of the show. The small bar was so packed that it looked like a fire hazard. With only a few booths and two rows of plastic chairs, most people were standing.

The large mob, featuring many people dressed in racy leather costumes, mingled loudly and moved through the dark-red lights shooting off the ceiling. The Maltese, a local bar in Chico, hosted a free Halloween showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” Wednesday.

The film possesses a rare breed of cult fame. Known all over as a traditionally interactive experience, its charm comes from its absurdity, but the entertainment it provides comes from the crowd watching it.

I was a virgin to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” before Wednesday, and after watching the entire movie, I still barely understand the plot.

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Herminio Olvera dressed up as Dr. Frank-N-Furter during the Rocky Horror Picture Show on Halloween. Photo credit: Dominique Wood

The film, while certainly innovative and shocking for its time, is rather corny and laughable. But its bizarre plot and robust display of pride towards the LGBTQ+ community definitely radiates style and charm.

Overall, it was one of the most eccentric movie-watching experiences I’ve ever had.

The venue was loud and people, as well as synthetic fog, continuously danced across the screen. Viewers yelled out random nonsense, covered their heads with newspapers and squirted water guns.

The primary purpose of the experience seemed to be to come up with new ways to make fun of the movie while taking part in well-known dances and traditions associated with certain scenes.

Attendees of the event needed to be 21 or older and people who weren’t feeling creative or outgoing enough drank until the profane nonsense began to flow.

There were a few people spread throughout the crowd who had clearly seen the movie countless times. They led the dances, threw out props and yelled at the screen nearly every other scene.

As a virgin of the show, I was told it’s proper RHPS edict to draw a large V somewhere visible on my body. It definitely felt like the kind of film where viewings become more fun with each subsequent experience.

It’s not the kind of movie I would recommend watching on a quiet night in, but I definitely respect its unconventional cult following. The entertainment comes from the environment and it’s all about what people make of the experience.

With a rowdy crowd and a good supply of alcohol, dance moves, newspapers, rice, toilet paper, water guns and witty comments, this film has an endless formula for success.

Grant Schmieding can be reached at [email protected] or @G_Schmieding on Twitter.