You might have noticed a few white cards with luscious, red lips placed around downtown Lancaster the past few weeks.
Some have been slid into statues, others placed gently on a bush.
Inside, they contain an access code for a website that leads to more details about the midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at the Elks Lodge at 12 a.m. Saturday. Doors open at 11:30 p.m. Friday.
The screening is part of the Lancaster International Short Film Festival, which runs Thursday through Saturday, and is presented in conjunction with Lancaster Transplant, the Historic Downtown Lancaster Coloring Book, and BUZZ King Street.
Michael Hoober, founder of the Lancaster International Short Film Festival, says he wanted to screen the film as part of the festival last year. Barry Bostwick, who plays the bespectacled, tight-laced Brad in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” appeared in a film screened at last year’s festival. He’s also in one showing this year, “The Death of Rasputin.”
Plans never came together for a “Rocky Horror” screening last year. Separately, David Ramsay, creator of the Historic Downtown Lancaster Coloring Book, also wanted to screen the film in Lancaster.
“It’s something that I thought our weird little community would enjoy,” Ramsay says.
Lancaster Transplant founder Jocelyn Park connected the two, helping to make the screening a reality.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be screened after the festival’s horror selections and a medley of comedy, drama and animation. Entrance to the screening is included with any Lancaster International Short Film Festival ticket. Tickets for just the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” also are available. The event is 18 and over, and there will be a cash bar on-site for those 21 and over.
The film version of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” was released in 1975, based on the 1973 musical stage production. The film stars Tim Curry as a gender-fluid mad scientist who takes in a young couple, Brad (Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) when they come seeking a telephone when their car breaks down in the rain. Among the film’s themes are sexual liberation and the acceptance of alternative lifestyles.
A re-make of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will air on FOX at 8 p.m. Thursday. Laverne Cox, known for her work on “Orange is the New Black,” stars as Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Traditionally, midnight screenings of the film include “callbacks,” or certain phrases that are shouted at particular points in the movie. Attendees also throw props at certain times in the movie — like toilet paper every time “Great Scott!” is exclaimed, or a piece of toast when Dr. Frank-N-Furter raises his glass to his guests. Each screening tends to have its own callback script, making each showing a unique event.
“It’s interesting to see how ours will develop,” Ramsay says.
Some callbacks and props are prohibited for this screening. No glitter will be permitted inside the Elks Lodge, and attendees should use their cellphone’s flashlight or a lighter app instead of a real lighter, Hoober and Ramsay say.
They also are discouraging use of particularly offensive callbacks, especially slurs, in order to provide a safe space for all attendees.
Dressing as one of the film’s characters is also a common feature of midnight showings. For the screening at the Elks Lodge, costumes are encouraged but not required.
While he’s never been to a midnight showing himself, Ramsay says, he watches the film every year.
“It’s one of those movies that you can watch over and over again,” Ramsay says. “It doesn’t lose anything. It’s one of those things where you notice another thing every time.”
Hoober remembers going to a few showings in the ‘80s. He says the film’s modern message of accepting alternative lifestyles has kept it relevant.
“Around that same time, punk rock was coming out, and dress and gender started to blur,” Hoober says. “It just caught on because it was speaking the culture at the time.”
The film also lets people be themselves, even if that means embracing themselves as outsiders.
“Rocky Horror lets people see it as normal,” Hoober says of alternative lifestyles. “It gets up on the screen … and (people think), ‘I can be who I feel I want to be instead of what they tell me I’m supposed to be.’ ”