The Uptown Theater, whether its programmers know it or not, will be giving viewers a direct opportunity this month to explore what midnight movies used to mean and what they have come to signify.
Regarding the former, they will be ending the month with midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the 1975 classic which is also currently knocking ’em dead in its stage version over at the Lab Theater (starring the stentorian Don Shelby).
The hyper-sexualized antics of Rocky Horror have helped it remain a pillar of the midnight flick community, but … well, when a movie has become fodder for the likes of Fox’s Glee, you know something in society has shifted. What was once underground has moved above and is now firmly mainstream.
What does that mean? Has movie society been subject to erosion? Does it take more to shock away the blue-haired brigade the same way Rocky Horror used to? Maybe not. Thanks to Tim Curry’s titanic central performance as the irrepressible Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Rocky Horror is less a monument to disobeying authority as it is a love letter to living your life the way you see fit. Strip away the fishnet stockings, and you’re looking at the central theme of almost every single episode of Oprah’s defunct talk show.
Then again, maybe the ethics of midnight movies have eroded, if the movie Uptown is presenting as its midnight selection over the next two weekends is any indication.
The Human Centipede II, the sequel to the, um, “charming” The Human Centipede I, goes out of its way to make the screen bleed and its audience feel as though they’ve just finished taking a month-long dip in the cesspool. And that’s a month if you’re already somewhat desensitized by the movie’s various -sploitation peers.
In making the first film, director Tom Six (read: “sicks”) rolled the dice on his concept’s ability to mainly repulse but also fascinate just a little. The first movie did, to the extent that it too has made some inroads into mainstream consciousness.
But with the second one, Six tips that balance and winds up making a movie that merely aims to promulgate illness. If this counts as a midnight movie, rest assured it will remain underground. Preferably six feet. Encased within a toxin-proof shroud.