I never “got” “Rocky Horror,” though I suppose I put in the effort. Growing up in the north burbs, my high school friends and I made frequent weekend trips to the Randhurst Theater for the midnight show. They were trips that were taken more out of the need to find a place to be drunk and obnoxious after 12 a.m., and less of the need to “Time Warp” again. Worse, the experience was usually littered with scads of local acting failures who used the midnight cult cinema experience as a way to vindicate themselves for a lifetime of roles along the lines of “Tree #2.”
I have two lasting memories of the movie: First, Susan Sarandon looked fabulous when she was younger. Second, the film’s opening song raised the bar far too high for everything else that unspooled over the following 100 minutes. Sung by “Rocky” creator Richard O’Brien, “Science Fiction/Double Feature” is a moody trip through the glory days of B-movies, name-checking the key players of the era, from Fay Wray (“King Kong”) to Michael Rennie (“The Day the Earth Stood Still.” The original). The arrangement is stripped down and haunted, its lyrics reading like the “We Didn’t Start the Fire” of ’50s horror and sci-fi.
Sliced off of the celluloid cheese it’s forever linked with, “Science Fiction/Double Feature” can be heard as an acoustic goth love song to a simpler time when the A-bomb loomed on the horizon and a movie theater could provide ridiculous and fantastic diversion. More simply put, it’s worth reevaluating. If you’re looking for it on the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” soundtrack, it’s just a jump to the left of that other song.