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25th Anniversary Special Edition DVD (front)

A 1975 cult classic musical-comedy that spoofs American culture, science fiction, and horror films directed by Jim Sharman

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  • Jun 24, 2012
**** out of ****

Characterized by its signature catchy lyrics, dancing trannies, midnight movie stylistics, and blood-red pouty lips on the common poster; "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was an unmistakable cult phenomenon that took the world by storm in 1975 by introducing something new: audience participation. Since it's the characters and the songs that the fans of the musical film would remember most fondly; they would often come to midnight screenings and otherwise dressed in "Rocky Horror" attire, ready to sing along with their horrorshow heroes on-screen. They say that the best way to view the film is to see it in a theater with these very people, and they are probably right. I'm sure the audience participation aspect makes the film even more enjoyable than it already is. But at home, some say the magic is gone. I've heard critics make ridiculous claims such as that the film - upon a home video viewing - has been reduced to the bear minimal elements of its complete whole (which can apparently be accessed in the theatrical setting). Well, as I write this, I've seen it twice now; and I must disagree. Both viewings took place in the comfort of my own home, and my theory is that as long as you have good "surround sound" and a pleasingly large screen to view it on, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is still all kinds of fun, so long as this was your idea of fun to begin with.

The film and its characters now find themselves embedded into pop culture. I've seen shirts being sold in regular retail stores with the red lips printed on the front, along with various other shirts sporting art from the movie. And then there's the soundtrack, which is not too rare at all; in fact, I've seen it often at my local multi-media store. One of the largest cult films ever seems less of a cult film now, since it's moved more towards the mainstream. That's OK, since this does not affect how much I - or anyone else for the matter - was entertained by it. It's about quality, not quantity, as some many wise men tend to say. I'm a picky little bastard when it comes to full length musicals, as you may already know by now, but this is essentially what I want when I'm looking to admire one: great music and stylistic peculiarities that only this genre can possess. You couldn't do "Rocky Horror" as a conventional picture. It exists as a musical and only a musical; less about plot and more about rhythm, attitude, and flow. That's the kind of movie-going experience that midnight movie audiences are always looking for.

Lovers Janet (Susan Sarandon) and Brad (Barry Bostwick) get stranded in the middle of the woods one dark, stormy, and rainy night when their car breaks down; prompting them to literally sing their way to the nearest creepy looking Gothic mansion. When they arrive at the front of the estate to ask if the house owners have a phone that they can use, they are practically sucked in to the festivities at hand. Soon, the mansion's caretakers Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) are doing the famous "time warp" (again and again) along with the other residents of the house. Afterwards, the "master" arrives; Dr. Frank-N-Furter, the "sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania". He ignores the requests for a phone and asks that Brad and Janet accompany him in witnessing the awakening of his newest creation, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood); a handsome devil who somehow manages to tear everyone apart. Also joining these characters in their downwards spiral towards madness and betrayal is Dr. Everett V. Scott (Jonathan Adams), a fellow scientist who the couple was heading to see as their car broke down.

The music is sung by the stars and was written by Richard O'Brian (creator of the original 1972 stage play of the same name) and the director, Jim Sharman. It's hard not to like a lot of it. From the intoxicating opener titled "Science Fiction/Double Feature" to the well-known "Time Warp" all the way to one of the last tunes - the beautiful and surprisingly moving "I'm Going Home" -, I was tapping my toes throughout the whole 100 minutes. Perhaps the film appealed to me as much as it did because it is heavily thematic in the realm of horror and science fiction. It seems to take most of its influence from films of both genres, "Frankenstein" specifically. Riff Raff is a sort of hunchback; Frank-N-Furter is somewhat of a mad scientist. The mansion itself feels like another dimension entirely, as if the characters have been transported to some otherworldly place. This feel which the film has achieved so gloriously is the key to its success as midnight entertainment for the late-night audience; it is strange, trippy, psychedelic, and spiked with a wicked sense of humor. It's very fast-paced and it might take a few viewings to really appreciate, but it truly does put a sinister spell on you from the beginning to the end.

With the help of its eccentric nature and its fan-base, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" understands that a film must not simply dream it to become big, but also be it as well; and so it is a film of massive scope and spectacle, an experience of much charm, sensuality, and magnificence. It's not the ultimate cult flick, but as a piece of pop surrealism; it's surprisingly not annoying, nor is it distracting. It's a film that serves as a diversion, but I firmly believe that there are classic movies even of that sort; and this is one of them. With something as interesting, funny, and entertaining as this; I cannot determine the exact amount of times I will be doing the time warp again in the future, but my expectation is that it won't be long before I do.

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June 24, 2012
I see you approve. That's very good to know.
June 25, 2012
Indeed. You were 100% right about this one, Chris.
June 25, 2012
great movie!!
More The Rocky Horror Picture Show ... reviews
review by . September 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: a visual treat for those that dare to explore     Cons: none for me     The Bottom Line:   "It's just a jump_to_the_left   And then a step_to_the_right   With your hands on_your_hips   You bring your knees_in_tight  But it's the pelvic thrust  That really drives you insane"  ~O'Brien     When I received an email from Talyseon asking me to join the write-off to pay …
review by . October 18, 2010
posted in Cult Cinema
I was ten years old when I first saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at home. Those were the days of VHS, and I didn’t have access to the commercial version sold in stores. I instead watched a grainy copy my parents had taped off of cable TV some years before I was born. I pestered them for months, and they finally consented. But even then, they were convinced that I was too young. Before giving me permission, they would refer to it in whispers as “that kind of movie.” …
review by . May 26, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Don't Dream It....Be It!
How many campy cult classics can you count on one hand that dominated the midnite cinema for nearly a decade or longer? Here is a perfect example of a musical which has never left our heads and seems to do well with each new generation. Probability suggests that rocky horror picture show will never go out of style and purchasing this DVD is the next best thing to seeing it in your local theatre on Halloween night.       Having had purchased several videotapes through …
Quick Tip by . June 03, 2010
Such a complete utter pile .. That I can't get enough of.
Quick Tip by . August 25, 2009
I remember seeing my first show in SF with a big V on my forehead, dancing & singing along with the show, live performers....what a blast!
Quick Tip by . August 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Everyone loves a good musical, right? Me, I love a warped musical, a "Time Warp"-ed musical. Simply one of the greatest cult films ever.
review by . March 25, 2001
posted in Music Matters
Conceived, written, scored, acted and directed by a hairdresser from Hamilton, New Zealand, the stunning thing about The Rocky Horror Picture Show Soundtrack was not how accurate it is as a send up of seventies pop culture (and it was), but how, despite that, it stands on its own as a damn good rock record - funny, sure, but also sexy, bombastic, funky, swaggering and even moving in places. For all its splendour, there isn't a great deal of rock music from the time (or for that matter since) which …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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If a musical sci-fi satire about an alien transvestite named Frank-n-Furter, who is building the perfect man while playing sexual games with his virginal visitors, sounds like an intriguing premise for a movie, then you're in for a treat. Not only isThe Rocky Horror Pictureall this and more, but it stars the surprising cast of Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick (as the demure Janet and uptight Brad, who get lost in a storm and find themselves stranded at Frank-n-Furter's mansion), Meat Loaf (as the rebel Eddie), Charles Gray (as our criminologist and narrator), and, of course, the inimitable Tim Curry as our "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania."

Upon its release in 1975, the film was an astounding flop. But a few devotees persuaded a New York theater to show it at midnight, and thus was born one of the ultimate cult films of all time. The songs are addictive (just try getting "The Time Warp" or "Toucha Toucha Touch Me" out of your head), the raunchiness amusing, and the plot line utterly ridiculous--in other words, this film is simply tremendous good fun. The downfall, however, is that much of the amusement is found in the audience participation that is obviously missing from a video version (viewers in theaters shout lines at the screen and use props--such as holding up newspapers and shooting water guns during the storm, and throwing rice during a wedding scene). Watched alone as a straight movie, Rocky Horror loses a ...

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