SFF Song of the Week: Kim Lakin-Smith

I’ve already written about the Fantasy Con at Brighton…which also featured many book launches, including an amazing-looking book by Kim Lakin-Smith called Cyber Circus. I got to know Kim when we both had stories published in the New Con Press Further Conflicts 2 anthology – hers was ‘The Harvest’, and it’s a peach. And she’s very kindly selected a science fiction song of the week for me.

Over to you Kim:

Kim Lakin-Smith writes:

Science Fiction/Double Feature’ from The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Scream queens and mutants and creatures from outer space and crazed scientists and the destruction of ALL MANKIND!… to quote the inimitable Julia Andrews, these are a few of my favourite things. Another is 1950s Americana. For me, Chevvies, juke boxes, and hightails and bobby socks are joined at the hip with drive-ins theatres and the Golden Age of science fiction. In a time of post-war boom but also pre-Cold-War paranoia, movie studios were quick to reflect a nation’s terror of alien invasion. While dating couples necked on back seats, 30 foot screens showed the likes of The War of the Worlds, It Came From Outer Space, Godzilla, King of the Monsters!,

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and The Incredible Shrinking Man. Overacting, limited special effects, pseudo-science, and climactic music scores all added to the greatness of these pulp-fiction’esque double-bills.

So then, what do we get when we combine a risqué cult musical with the 1950s horror and science fiction sub genre? A suspender-wearing amalgam of kitsch-cool, that’s what! Mix in a good grating of sexual subversity and a generous dollop of rock ‘n’ roll, and there can only be one result – Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show and its opening anthem ‘Science Fiction/Double Feature.’

Covered by as diametrically opposed artists as Joan Jet and the Blackhearts and Naya Rivera’s cheerleader character from Glee, SFDF is a lascivious ode to great pulp SF. In the film version, O’Brien provided the vocal. The original intention was to play the song over the opening credits and feature faded clips from the movies mentioned. But when rights to such classics as The Invisible Man and When The Earth Stood Still proved too pricey, production designer Brian Thomson turned to Patricia Quinn’s character Magenta. With her head strapped to a board to restrict movement, Quinn provided the now iconic red lips against a black background.

While the use of actual movie footage proved a no go in this opening sequence, it did not stop O’Brien from peppering the script with nods to the genre. The creature, Rocky Horror, is dressed in bandages before being brought to life, a wink to Claude Rains’ Invisible Man. When Rocky carries Frank’s lifeless body up the tower of the RKO logo, it is an overt homage to King Kong and his scream queen, Fay Wray. From the young couple mentored by a creepy scientist, to the anthemic Time Warp, to the ray gun touted by Riff Raff when he and Magenta return a certain sweet transvestite to transsexual Transylvania, Rocky Horror as a movie pays tribute to its pulp origins and thereby creates its own iconic science fiction/picture show.

But enough from me. Time to let those luscious red lips do the talking.

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