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Lunch » Tags » Movies » Reviews » The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 movie) » User review

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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Rocky Horror Picture Show - 1975

  • Sep 10, 2010
Rating:
+5
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 homage to the most famous lips in filmdom, I was intrigued.   After looking over trhe list of reference points, I realized I had already reviewed dang near everything but the prime piece, Rocky Horror Picture Show.  To honor both the film and the invite from Talyseon, I scurried to Netflix and downloaded the performance.

Personally I had only viewed the interactive audience performance of this film at a midnight showing, not the full length film without the audience standing in front of the screen acting out their various parts/favorites.   Thanks Talyseon for giving me this opportunity to view it without distraction.

There are many ways to view this film but taking it seriously is not one of them.  Released in 1975, it was a much different viewing audience than today.  Then, again, perhaps todays audience wouldn't 'get' or appreciate the beauty of the film.   It hit the screen during the rock concert/musicals era falling between 1972-1979, including Hair, Tommy, and Jesus Christ Superstar.  But decidedly different.

Perhaps America wasn't ready for transsexuals.  They certainly weren't opposed to aliens, they embraced them.  But transsexual aliens ... dear me.

There were only a few things that bothered me about the film: 1) Tim Curry looked better in his delicates than I do; 2) In fact, all the guys looked better than I do; and 3)  Tim Curry and the other male performers could motivate much better in high heels than I ever could even though I wore them all the time.  Small things but disturbing nonetheless - well, more jealously than disturbing.

The crux of the film centers around the innocent and pure couple, Janet & Brad.  They were stereotypical of the male/female population during this era, for the most part.  You were either goodie two shoes, like Janet and Brad, or bad to the bone, like other characters portrayed in the film.

Their naivete and purity was almost too sugar sweet and needed to get knocked down a notch or two.  This happens after they leave the wedding of their best friends, and Brad proposes to Janet, then they get lost in a rainstorm.  More troubling, they get a flat tire and their only recourse, since this was BCP (before cell phones) was to hike back to a castle they had passed a while back.

Arriving at the castle they are met by the handyman, Riff-Raff, and their lives take a different turn, as did ours.

From this point on we are bombarded with such outlandish, campish, hilarious humor we, or at least I, were thoroughly pleased.  

It really starts with Riff-Raff, whose appearance would take you aback, and quickly escalates as the transvestites are introduced, building up to the entrance of Dr. Frank-N-Furter.   Nothing can perpare you for the visual enjoyment as he steps off the elevator and exposes himself in full drag.

It isn't long before we discover his diabolical plot, and the fact he is an alien.   Just as well, it isn't long before you are caught up in the delightful song and dance fest of this production.

There are probably a good deal of people that don't like this movie or the experience at all.  Then, again, I don't like a lot of movies out there that others like.  That is what makes the world go round, differences of opinion.

There is no way I'll give away the end or even the meat of this movie.  It would distract those that want to watch it on their own and draw their own ideas from it.  What I will mention are the cast of characters.  Just the description given of them by the narrator, Charles Gray [The Criminologist - an expert] is enough:

Tim Curry plays the part of Dr. Frank-N-Furter - A Scientist.  His role is a loose interpretation or spoof of Dr. Frankenstein.  Loose, of course, being the operative word.  He is in drag throughout the production and, like I said, worked those high heels like a runway model.  While most of his songs are campy productions, he does give a heartfelt rendition near the end of "I'm Going Home".   I've seen videos of him doing this piece live in various venues but it doesn't hold the poignancy of the piece in the film.

Frank-N-Furter's creation, a la Frankenstein, is Rocky Horror - A Creation, played by a tanned and honed adonis, Peter Hinwood.  One of the few in the production that did not do his own singing.  While his part left you somewhat flat, you have to give credit to this guy that was willing to scamper around in a gold lame brief and gold boots. 

Janet Weiss - A Heroine, was played by Susan Sarandon and only one of three Americans used in the production.  This was fairly early in her since lengthy career and she was dewy-eyed and pretty enough to be believed in this simple part.  Would she do it now if asked?  One has to wonder considering her more recent work.  I believe, just because of her spunk and tenacity, she would.  Her singing, while acceptable, would never garner her any awards on that level, and one must overlook the acting part of the film.  This film really has nothing to do with sincerity.

Barry Bostwick - A Hero, took on Brad Majors, Janet's love connection.  Like Sarandon, Bostwick was early in his career which until then, and since, has centered around TV work.  Like Janet he appeared almost entirely throughout in his skivvies, tighty-whities by the way.   Looking at him then it is difficult to relate to him in his current roles.  Much like Michael Crawford when he appeared in the Streisand production of Hello Dolly, compared to his Phantom of the Opera work.  Would he recreate his role if asked?  In my opinion he would be aghast, but that is just me.  Again, his singing, though heartily given, wasn't anything to win an award and his acting followed suit with Sarandon's. 

Probably joining Curry with his incredible abilities to transform was Riff-Raff - A Handyman, played by Richard O'Brien.  What a delightful character he portrayed.  Equally, his talent is uncompared since he wrote all the songs for this production.  He had a wonderful persona in the film, Igor like, with his protruding hunch and stringy hair.  I thought at one point they commented that he and Magenta were brother and sister then later they insinuated husband and wife.  That may be how things are done on their planet, who knows. 

Speaking of Magenta - A Domestic, she was played by Patricia Quinn.  It stated she took the part because she loved the opening song, "Science Fiction - Double Feature".   Later she was upset to learn she wouldn't be performing this song but was placated when they let her lip sync the song which was performed by Richard O'Brien.  It is her perky red lips that appear during the opening of the film but O'Brien's voice.  Hers are not the red lips shown on the posters though, they belong to model Lorelei Shark.    Not that any of this matters, her performance held stage with the others.

While Magenta was delightful, especially in her spoof at the end of Mrs. Frankenstein with all that wonderful piled up and streaked hair, the better vocal contribution was from Nell Campbell, who played Columbia - A Groupie.  She was a sexy little siren during the entire film.

Two smaller parts went to Jonathan Adams as Dr. Everett V. Scott - A Rival Scientist, and Meatloaf as Eddie - Ex Delivery Boy.  Scott's part seemed out of sync with the rest of the show, but in my opinion only.  Meatloaf, however, tore it up in his "Hot Patootie" number, it was to die for, pardon my pun. 

Charles Gray dropped in throughout the film, adding his own sage wisdom since he was the expert criminologist after all. 

Like I said, not a movie for everyone.  But a visual treat for those that enjoy.   I remember taking my middle son when he was 16 to see the live production and he sat with jaw dropped at the audience participation.  It was a little difficult to see the film since the theatre lights never dimmed and the stage was full of audience members in their favorite character dress.  They did limit participation items to only rice, which they distributed with your ticket.  Apparently there had been issues in the past and clean up has to be terrible afterwards.   Nevertheless, it is something to be seen and enjoyed, as long as you have already seen the film beforehand.

This film was directed by Jim Sharman and writers were Richard O'Brien, original musical play; Jim Sharman and Richard O'Brien, screenplay.   It was nominated for 6 awards, winning two.

My thanks to Talyseon for letting me trip back and join his write-off.

thanks,
Susi

Recommended:
Yes

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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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