Science Fiction/Double Feature
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|"Science Fiction/Double Feature"|
|Song by Richard O'Brien|
|from the album The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music From The Motion Picture|
"Science Fiction/Double Feature" is the opening song to the original 1973 musical stage production, The Rocky Horror Show as well as its 1975 film counterpart The Rocky Horror Picture Show, book, music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien, musical arrangements by Richard Hartley. The song is reprised at the end of the show, with lyrics that reflect on the final events of the story.
The film opens with a title sequence of a disembodied mouth (inspired by the surreal Man Ray painting A l'heure de l'observatoire, les Amoureux (Observatory Time, the Lovers)) against a black background singing in homage to classic science fiction films. It was sung by Richard O'Brien and lip synced, as the now-iconic pair of red lips, by co-star Patricia Quinn. In its original incarnation, The Rocky Horror Show, the song was performed by the character Magenta doubling as the credited role of "Usherette". This character took on the unofficial names of "Miss Strawberry Time", "Trixie" and the "Belasco Popcorn Girl" from props carried on stage during the number. For the filming of the opening sequence, Quinn's head had to be strapped to a board to keep it stationary for filming.
The song is made up of fragments from 1950s subgenre horror and science fiction films and likened to that of avant-garde artist Tristan Tzara by author Vera Dika in her book, Recycled Culture in Contemporary Art and Film. Tzara would construct poems by taking snippets of words from newspapers and placing them into a bag to randomly draw from and arrange. Instead, the words in "Science Fiction/Double Feature" are purposely made to rhyme with a set structure and set with phrases that create cohesion.
The original concept of the song for the feature film as indicated in the original script was to have film clips of each movie shown with a scratched aged effect overlay during the song and opening credits. The idea was dropped when it became apparent that the cost of acquiring the rights to these clips in 1974 was far too prohibitive.
In the original stage version, the prologue of the show features the usherette singing "Science Fiction/Double Feature" as she enters after the theater lighting has been dimmed. A spotlight follows her as she carries her refreshment tray down the aisle and onto the stage.
In the film version, production designer Brian Thomson decided to use Patricia Quinn's lipsticked mouth against a black background, lip syncing to Richard O'Brien's vocal, with the picture inverted. Inspired by the Man Ray painting entitled Lips (1966), the opening number (prologue) is sung by these disembodied lips that freeze in place for the credits. The prologue was originally going to feature shots from the films referenced in the song under the opening credits.
- Hoberman, Rosenbaum, J., Jonathan (1991). Midnight movies. Da Capo Press. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-306-80433-5.
- Knapp, Raymond (2006). The American musical and the performance of personal identity. Princeton University Press. p. 247. ISBN 978-0-691-12524-4.
- Dika, Vera (2003). Recycled culture in contemporary art and film. Cambridge University Press. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-521-01631-5.