After requests for over a decade, one of the most popular Halloween cult classics of all time is coming to the Carolina Theatre this Halloween. The Retro Film Series will host "The Rocky Horror Picture Show Halloween Ball" for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Carolina's 1000-seat Fletcher Hall. As the second longest-running genre film series in the United States, focusing on films created between 1920 and 1998, the Retro Film Series has conspicuously and specifically refrained from screening "Rocky Horror" for twenty years.
"The Rocky Horror Picture Show," released in 1975, is a musical science-fiction-horror-comedy that audiences have enjoyed at midnight showings for nearly a half-century. In traditional screenings, a “shadow cast” will mime the actions and lip-synch the lines of the characters on screen. Viewers will wear costumes and yell call-back lines to events in the film, and stand up to do the "Time Warp" dance when the song plays. In the some showings, audiences can throw toilet-paper rolls and popcorn at the screen. The staff at the Carolina Theatre originally did not want to show the film alongside their other Retro films due to this unruliness that is so strongly associated with "Rocky Horror."
“I didn’t want the series to become like Rocky Horror Picture Show, with people yelling at the screen and getting rowdy,” said Jim Carl, senior director of film programming at the Carolina for our 2015 article on the film series. “I want people to have a good time, but respect the material on screen.”
Three years later, Carl came to terms with bringing "Rocky Horror" to Retro by giving the event a distinctly Carolina Theatre flavor. In addition to the leading cast and costumed viewers of traditional midnight showings, the Halloween Ball will feature door prizes, grab bags, concession specials, fog, lights and a variety of other special effects. The Theatre's tech crew and lighting capabilities allow for a more theatrical production of "Rocky Horror" than is possible in traditional movie theaters.
"We don't want to replicate what already happens in theaters across the Triangle," said Carl.
Founded in 1998, the Retro Film Series is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. To celebrate the occasion, the July- December season is a "Greatest Hits" version of the last twenty years. Retro hosts the "Splatterflix" series every October, showing some of the scariest and campy-est films of the '70s and '80s. Adding to the Halloween vibe, Carl decided to create a unique "Rocky Horror" event that would distinguish this year of Retro from all others.
"The vision is for it to become a Halloween tradition at the Carolina Theatre," said Carl. "We've already turned Hocus Pocus into an October tradition, and this is the next step."
With nearly 5000 people interested in the event on Facebook, the event looks to become a popular Halloween celebration in Durham for years to come. The audience is encouraged to wear costumes for a fully-interactive experience, which is sure to "thrill you, chill you and fulfill you!"