The live Rocky Horror Picture Show isn’t happening this year. Here are some alternatives


The Kentucky Theater on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Kaleb Littleton

COVID-19 has taken many yearly traditions from us, and with the closing of the Kentucky Theatre, live showings of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” are one of them.

While you could just watch the “Rocky Horror” movie at home, there’s something missing without the audience participation and the live performers, particularly around Halloween. Here are some alternative movies to try and satisfy that creepy craving.

First off, Rocky Horror isn’t the only horror musical in existence. One of the best examples is 2008’s “Repo! The Genetic Opera.” 

In a world ravaged by a pandemic causing organ failures — which is somewhat relevant nowadays — the company GeneCo becomes a monopoly by selling a combination of their highly addictive anesthetic Zydrate and synthetic organs at a reasonable price. However, if customers miss a payment, the company sends a Repo Man to take back its property and any other viable organs.

While Rocky Horror is a throwback to 1950s science fiction and rock, “Repo” is directed by an alumnus from “Saw” with a cyberpunk comic-book aesthetic and structured as a heavy metal opera. Combine this with an all-star cast, and viewers are in for a bloody ride.

For fans of Tim Curry, there’s the 1990 version of Stephen King’s “It.”

King and his killer clown spider need no introduction. A strange being has terrorized the town of Derry for years, and a team of childhood friends try to deal with it across several points in time. A new adaptation was released in 2017, set in the 1980s, but the original version has Curry as the clown and keeps the 1950s setting. 

For a family-friendly option, there’s “Hocus Pocus” directed by Kenny Ortega. Set in the town of Salem, a teenager accidentally unleashes three witches, who set out to kill the children of Salem so they can attain eternal youth. This film has a large queer following, helped a lot by the gay fan bases of its leads Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker. Add this to being a movie with a sensitive male lead and Bette Midler casting a spell halfway through the movie by singing and you have the recipe for a movie with a lot of LGBTQ+ fans. “Hocus Pocus” is a fun Halloween movie that’s very light on the fright factor.

For a bit of comedy this Halloween, watch the original “Ghostbusters.” Don’t let the PG rating mislead; this movie wasn’t meant for kids. Based on Dan Akroyd’s love of supernatural movies growing up, “Ghostbusters” was a labor of love for him and other Saturday Night Live cast members. The scares are great, the ideas are clever, and the jokes still hold up today. And with “Ghostbusters Afterlife” coming out soon, why not revisit the 1984 original?

The original “Alien” brings a taste of the extraterrestrial. It’s one of the defining horror movies of the 1980s, launching the careers of Sigourney Weaver and Ridley Scott into the stratosphere and starting an empire of sequels and video games. For those looking for a movie with powerful practical effects, “Alien” has them covered for that, too.

Zombies are a great idea that have been overdone recently by creative works like “The Walking Dead.” It’s enough to make one bored of the entire trope. That said, there are a few shining lights in the genre, like “Evil Dead 2.” The Evil Dead movies as a whole are solid, but “Evil Dead 2” is the best of the three in my opinion. It has the right balance of scares and drama, with some humor to cut the tension. Bruce Campbell is as good as ever, and for those looking for a different sort of zombie movie this year, I highly recommend it.

As with the previous suggestion, “The Crow” is a wild card pick. Set in Detroit, Eric Draven and his fiancé are killed by criminals on Devil’s Night. One year later, a crow brings Draven back so that he can get his revenge on the men that killed them. On paper, it looks like another action movie, but “The Crow” is different. It’s written and filmed in such a way to make viewers doubt whether or not what Draven is doing is right. Combine that with the lead’s death during filming, and “The Crow” is a movie that makes one think about the nature of death and revenge.

Next up is “An American Werewolf In London.” This was going to be on my Halloween watchlist even if the Rocky Horror Picture Show wasn’t cancelled. What made me curious was a piece on Incluvie written by Matt Geiger called “The Secret Queer Subtext of ‘An American Werewolf in London.’”The article suggested that the protagonist’s lycanthropy was a metaphor for being in the closet in a very homophobic time period. 

While I don’t think this was director John Landis’s intention, when I watched the movie myself, I could see where the article was coming from. The main character David Kessler spends a significant part of the movie with beings that only he can see telling him to kill himself because he’s a monster. This could be seen as a representation of internalized homophobia. As it becomes more clear that Kessler is going to turn into a werewolf, the sexual content in the movie skyrockets to the point where a climactic scene happens in a theater showing an adult film. You could easily argue that as him trying to pretend he’s straight. 

“Nightmare on Elm Street 2” has long been suggested to have similar coding, the X-Men film series used mutants explicitly as a stand-in for LGBTQ+ individuals across several movies, and JK Rowling confirmed that she used lycanthropy as a stand-in for AIDS stigma. Whether viewers choose to believe the theory or not, “An American Werewolf in London” is still a great film.

Last is one of the most famous gay horror movies of all time, “Interview with a Vampire.” An adaptation of Anne Rice’s book series, it has a vampire tell a reporter his life story, how he became a vampire and what he has done with his un-life. These included a relationship with another male vampire, which had many viewers question whether they were a couple. The books do indeed confirm the romantic nature of their relationship. For those interested in seeing an all-star cast of actors debate the nature of immortality, or just watching Antonio Banderas be a vampire, this has what they’re looking for.

Any of these films should be a fine watch this Halloween, and there are many more to be considered. In the midst of celebrating, watch the moon, don’t light strange candles, and most importantly, beware of clowns.