Lyric by Richard O'Brien, Copyright © 1974, Druidcrest Music
Notes by James M. Curran, Copyright © 1995
Some links by Arthur Levesque
[^] carets pop-up commentary. Underlined Words jump to pages elsewhere on the Web.
Michael Rennie was ill
And Flash Gordon was there
Then something went wrong...
They got caught in a celluloid jam.
Science Fiction - Double Feature
At the late-night double-feature picture show .
I know Leo G. Carroll
Was over a barrel
And I really got hot
When I saw Janette Scott
Gave him the runes
Science Fiction - Double Feature (etc..)
(I wanna go - o -o)
To the late-night double-feature picture show.
(By R.K.O) [^]
Oh - o - o
To the late-night double-feature picture show.
Oh - o - o
To the late-night double-feature picture show.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951, 92m,20th Cent. Fox), starring Michael Rennie as "Klaatu", with Patricia Neal. An alien comes to Earth, shows us his power about shutting down all of our power for a day, and then said for us to shape up, or his large robot Gort will destroy the world. We promise to fly right, and he leaves. (I guess we fooled him). Gave us the classic phrase "Klaatu Barado Nicto" which means basically, "Klaatu says 'Don't destroy the planet'" Also, Klaatu wasn't ill that day, but actually stuck in an elevator. Directed by Robert Wise, who would later direct West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and then become president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscar people). The movie was inspired by a short story called "Farewell to the Master" by Harry Bates (1940) which has little in common with the movie, other than having a flying saucer piloted by aliens named Klaatu & Gort land in Washington DC, but is just as a thought provoking story as the film is.
Several movie serials starring Buster Crabbe in the late 1930s, some of which were reedited into features, notably: The Deadly Ray From Mars(1938, 99m) and Purple Death from Outer Space (1940, 87m)
The Invisible Man(1933, 71m, Universal), starring Claude Rains & Gloria Stuart. Directed by James Whale (who also directed Frankenstein ) Based on the novel by H.G. Wells (first published in 1897, the same year as Bram Stoker published Dracula.)
King Kong(1933, 103m, RKO) Starring Fay Wray, Bruce Cabot and the Empire State Building. Produced & Directed by Merian C. Cooper, and Ernest B. Schoedsack. (It was, of course, remade in 1976, with a model named Jessica Lange debuting in the Fay Wray role. Two Oscars and six nominations later, its nice to reflect on that....)
Two years later, Cooper and Schoedsack would try again with another big-budget epic: The Last Days of Pompeii (1935, 95m, RKO). This film would have absolutely no significance here except that it too was remade, (1960, 105m, Italy), this time featuring that big time American Body-builder-turned-actor star of Italian "Cloak-and-sandal" action-fantasy flicks: Steve Reeves (He had already starred in Hercules, Hercules Unchained, and Goliath and the Barbarians in just 1959 & 1960). (Just so you know these thing are circular, Goliath... also starred Bruce Cabot). Although Reeves would only make those two, the Italian "Hercules" movie series would continue for at least 26 years and 11 movies; some starring other body-builders-turned-actors Lou Ferrigno and Arnold Schwarzenegger. (Yes, I know that this is an incredible contrived segue from King Kong to Steve Reeves, but Steve is just about the only film reference mention in RHPS that I don't mention somewhere here, and I'll be damned if I going to leave him out)
It sounds like O'Brien is referring to a movie called At a Deadly Pace here, except I can't find any indication such a movie exists. Any help here would be appreciated.
It Came From Outer Space(1953, 81m, Universal) Based on a Ray Bradbury short story, starring Richard Carlson & Barbara Rush. An alien ship crashes in the desert, and its passengers assume the identities of some of the locals to attempt to repair their ship unnoticed. Directed by Jack Arnold. In 3-D.
Doctor X (1932, 80m, Warner Bros.) Starring Lionel Atwill, Preston Foster, and Fay Wray (and you thought her only movie was King Kong, right? Actually, she made 76 -- and all but 10 between the years 1923-1942). Atwill is Doctor Xavier, and the creature turns out to become "The Full Moon Strangler." Fay's there just to scream a lot. Directed by Michael Curtiz, who would later go on to direct Captain Blood, The Charge of the Little Brigade, We're No Angels, Angels with Dirty Faces, Life With Father and a whole bunch of other significant films, including Casablanca, which won him the Oscar for Best Director---but not before Curtiz, Atwill and Wray teamed up again for The Mystery of the Wax Museum, (1933, 77m) which would later be remade with Vincent Price (and Charles Bronson ) as the 3-D classic House of Wax.
This line is another puzzle. "Brad and Janet" would seem to refer to the protagonists of Rocky, except there are no androids in the movie to fight with. Perhaps O'Brien is referring to some other movie, which he like so much that he stole the heroes' names for his own play? But if so, what movie? There are no androids in Doctor X, and while there is at least a robot in Forbidden Planet, no one named "Brad" or "Janet". My best guess: As this stanza parallels the reprise that concluded the movie, O'Brien needed a line with the phrase "Brad and Janet" to balance the line "Darkness has conquered Brad & Janet." So, he figured he included a "Coming Attractions": "See Aliens Fighting Brad & Janet" But, then, as he tries to score it, he realizes that the meter doesn't work, so he makes a quick change, confident that no one will notice, "`cuz it's not like anyone's going to be studying this 20 years from now..."
Forbidden Planet (1956, 98m, MGM) Starring Anne Francis, Walter Pidgeon, Leslie Nielsen, Earl Holliman, and in his debut, Robbie the Robot . Space explorers land on a planet, meet a scientist and his daughter, and battle with "The Creature from the Id" -- the greatest cartoon monster of all time (the rest of the movie was live-action). Based, believe it or not, on William Shakespeare's play The Tempest.
Tarantula (1955, 80m, Universal) starring John Agar, Leo G. Carroll and debuting in a bit role, Clint Eastwood (40 years and three Oscars later, it's nice to reflect on that). Carroll is a scientist who creates a growth formula, which creates a tarantula the size of a house. Directed by Jack Arnold [^] (see above).
The Day of the Triffids(1963, 95m, Allied Artists), starring Howard Keel, and Janette Scott. Meteors turn plants into giant walking Man-eaters (which, by the way, is the same basic plot as Little Shop of Horrors, which was, nevertheless, a very different movie). Remade for British TV in the early 80's. There is, by the way, no such thing as a "Triffid," which is the name these plants went by. However, "trifid" (with one F) means "divided into three parts", and is often used as part of the scientific name of plants which have a three-part leaf.
This one was a bit tough. The best I could come up with was The Curse of the Demon (1958, 83m, Columbia) which starred Dana Andrews as a "Stuffy cynical psychologist who doesn't believe that a series of deaths of been caused by an ancient curse". One of his co-stars was 70, so she may have qualified as a "prune". Based of Montguae R. James book Casting the Runes
When World Collide(1951, 81m, Paramount) Starring Richard Derr and Barbara Rush. George Pal produced and did the special effects (but didn't directed -- He'd start doing that a few years later). Two planets are flinging their way through outer space -- one is going to hit and destroy Earth, while the other is close enough to being Earth-like that people build a space ship to reach it to save themselves from dying on the Earth. The film ends just as that ship lands on the second planet. Of course, as this planet continue to fling through space, it'll move either closer to or further from the sun, killing everyone on it -- Everyone that is, that survived the meteors showers which occurred as this planet passes through the debris left by Earth & the other planet colliding and being destroyed -- but you're no supposed to think about that....
I'm not sure about the "to his bride" line, since as far as I can tell, Pal wasn't married to anyone noteworthy - All I could find about her was that her name was Zsoka Grandjean. It might possibly be a reference to Bride of Frankenstein (which any horror movie fan knows is the best "Frankenstein" film, and inspired Magenta's hair-do in the final scene) although Pal didn't have anything to do with that movie. I guess it was the only thing O'Brien could think of that rhymed with "Collide".
When sound was first added to films, the Radio Corporation of America (which these days goes by merely RCA), decided that sound their bag, and were determined to be the leading producers of talkies, or at least, they wanted to make sure that when you thought of Movies -- you thought of Radio. To that end, the trademarked the term "Radio Picture," which is what they called their movies. But, they needed to make sure that theaters would show all their "Radio Pictures" Their solution -- buys lots of movie theaters and force 'em to. The "Keith-Albee-Orphreum" chain of movie and vaudeville house was willing to merge, and thus was born in October of 1928, the "Radio - Keith - Orphreum Corporation" -- or "R.K.O" for short. (The exact fate of Albee has been lost to the ages) RKO then proceeded to spend most of the 1930's in bankruptcy. It did find time to make a few movies then, including some high-quality horror flicks, including King Kong, Son of Kong, The Cat People, and I Walked With a Zombie. Despite making many good films over the years, financial troubled always loomed. RKO's studios were sold to Desilu (Lucille Ball's company) in 1953, and it stopped making movies altogether in 1957. It survived as a corporation, living off it's holdings, until the 1980's when it was swallowed up by other companies. Among the other movies made by RKO were Orson Wells's Citizen Kane, Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (before Walt left to start his own studio), Hitckcock's Notorious, and vaudeville-stripper-turned- Lili St. Cyr 's finest hour: Son of Sinbad (1955).
This line is, I think, Richard O'Brien's one big mistake in the song, since as everyone knows, the back row was for making out, but if you actually want to see the movie, you had to be in the front row. Or perhaps he was just giving us a clue as to what was to come.....
It's interesting to note that, while we have several movies from the 50's, two from the 30's and one from the 60's, there nothing here from the 40's. Apparently it was a bad decade for Science Fiction/Horror flicks.
Note, also, that most of the movie cited are
rather short, generally running only about 80 minutes. This is
because, true to the title, most of these films were intended to
run as part of a Double Feature, and the theater owners wanted to
get two of them in, along with a cartoon & a newsreel, in
under 3 hours.
The information provided here was gathered from "Microsoft's Cinemania" CDROM, Baseline's "Motion Picture Guide" and "Encyclopedia of Film", and a youth misspent watching a lot of late-night TV.
However many links go elsewhere, so be sure to poke around a bit.