In spirit of the holiday, Hallow’s Eve is host to several movie events across the city

B movie and pop culture fanatics horde to dark, body-filled halls around Calgary on a late October weekend, in anticipation for one thing — to experience their favorite cult-classics “gone wild” in the spirit of Halloween

A stampede of participants crowd The Plaza’s stage for Time Warp during the “Rocky Horror Picture Show”
Photo by: Sharday L. Isaac

Terry Lo, a fifth-year attendee to the long-running midnight “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” said, “Rocky Horror in itself, just by nature of dressing up, is just a part of it.”

So queue the thrown toilet paper, rice and toast. Process the shouting ad-libs, and dancing sing-alongs as “Rocky Horror Picture Show” takes over The Plaza Theatre for one messy clean-up as it does every year.

“It is an encouragement to a truly adult version of Halloween. Make-up, costumes — those are the first things that anyone growing up in western society thinks of as Halloween,” Lo said.

“And of course, the whole idea of horror, sci-fi, or ghosts and goblins and all that — it is just a natural fit with the Halloween atmosphere.”

“This particular showing struck me as being more energetic than previous ones,” he said. “The stampede during Time Warp was easily the most energetic I have ever seen. Regardless of the usual jokes, this time around people were going out of their way to ad-lib and even interacting with the ad-libs.”

An obscure show where tricks become the treat, and Lo goes because even if he was to top his own scale of weirdness — he still wouldn’t be the weirdest one there.

“You go out of your way to play tricks on each other,” Lo said. “My wife was with me. She really went at it with the super soaker during the rainstorm.”

“A lot of us are right social conservatives,” Lo said giggling. “But we are all sci-fi fans and we are all media fans of sorts.”

“Of my gang, all ranging from the 30s to late 40s, we were practically born and raised in our teens with Rocky Horror. It is the one place at least once a year, just for a little while, where you can just let yourself go.”

Meanwhile, on the other side of downtown  .  .  .

The string-only CPO will perform Psycho: the Movie and Music live to a projection of Hitchcock’s classic
Photo Courtesy of: Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

“As soon as you hear the screeching violins you know the shower scene immediately,” Marylou Bennetts, of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, or CPO, said.

The Alfred Hitchcock classic “Psycho” comes to life for one weekend only as this spooky cult classic score is performed live at the Jack Singer Concert Hall by the CPO’s string-only orchestra.

The scene has “really kind of resonated through pop culture, and it’s funny.

“If you Google some quick facts about Hitchcock, he actually wanted the scene to be without music but the composer scored anyway,” she said. “That is the most recognizable part from the whole show.

“It has really stood the test of time.”

The thrilling Psycho score comes to life as the CPO performs to a projection of the movie
Photo Courtesy of: Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

The score is to be stripped while the dialog still exists, and the orchestra will be playing the live soundtrack, Bennetts said.

“If you watch a movie without music as a background, it really doesn’t capture the same effect emotionally or it doesn’t play out on your senses the same way as if you put the music bed in.

“And we are really pleased to be the music bed for this score,” she said.

As for resident conductor Mélanie Léonard, she has a lot of fun doing themed shows.

CPO’s resident conductor, Mélanie Léonard, set to lead Psycho: the Movie and Music live at Jack Singer

Photo Courtesy of: Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

“Mélanie has a really fun side to her, so I think that she really enjoys the great classics and has a lot of fun with stuff that deals with pop culture,” Bennetts said.

As for Léonard, performing to a live projection to a cult horror classic was a whole challenge on its own.

“When we are performing, we are apart of creating that mood,” she said. “In this case the thrill and the tension was because there is a lot of that in the “Psycho” atmosphere.

“I find listening to music live has a much more exciting energy than listening to the same work on a CD and so if you combine the two together, I think that it enriches the experience of watching the movie,” she said.

“It is a different energy that builds up in the Hall than watching the movie in a theatre. We rarely have the occasion to see a movie where the soundtrack is live “— which makes “Psycho: the Movie and the Music” an exciting live experience to witness, Léonard said.

The interactive, collective experience of horror classics around Halloween tends to be a tradition in the cult film community as well.

Mario Trono, an associate professor of the English department at MRU, teaches his popular culture course that the enjoyment with thriller films for some is just the “occasional sheer rush of adrenaline as a type of entertainment” — simply an “exotic exercise for the imagination.”

lisaac@cjournal.ca