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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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35 Years Later, and We're Still Doing the Time Warp

  • Oct 18, 2010
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.” I would overhear them, and that only made me want to see it even more. Being so young, I had no real idea as to the nature of the plot or the characters; mostly, I was interested in the music, which I had heard sporadically in years past and had came to love. This was, I now believe, a natural reaction to growing up with musical films like “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Labyrinth” as well as with MTV – back in the days when they actually aired music videos.
After playing it for the umpteenth time, my parents finally realized that my watching “Rocky Horror” did not lead to any unpleasant consequences. It was a movie I liked, plain and simple. They let go of their concerns and, in effect, allowed me to give myself over to absolute pleasure. Years later, they even went with me to the twenty-fifth anniversary convention in Las Vegas. It was there that I finally “lost my virginity” at the Hard Rock Hotel’s midnight screening. I was seventeen – just the right age. I had heard a lot about audience participation, but nothing could have prepared me for actually being a part of it. It’s an experience I haven’t forgotten, and probably never will forget.
Since the fateful night I first viewed it on my VCR, I’ve learned to appreciate “Rocky Horror” for reasons other than its music. To be blunt, I appreciate it for its badness. The tacky production, the amateurish screenplay, and the bizarre characters and plot reek of old time B-movie filmmaking, the kind in which imagination was boundless but skill was limited. If we catch a glaring technical mistake – and inevitably, we do – we may find ourselves welcoming it, for it only adds to the film’s campy charm. So too does the plot, which is all at once a silly send up of science fiction and horror films, a free-spirited celebration of sexuality, and (my favorite) a rollicking musical comedy. If director Jim Sharman’s intention was do a straightforward adaptation of the original 1973 musical play, perhaps it was fortunate that he didn’t quite succeed. Creating camp can only take you so far; audiences have to do the rest.
And that’s exactly what they did. After a disastrous 1975 release in mainstream markets, “Rocky Horror” was rereleased as a midnight movie in April of 1976, rapidly generating a fan base that spread from city to city, and eventually, from country to country. It was shown every Friday and/or Saturday night, and it became commonplace to return week after week. Audiences would dress as their favorite character. They would participate by shouting vulgar lines back at the screen. They would sing along with the cast. They would bring props like water pistols, newspapers, lighters, noisemakers, and confetti. A select group of people would stand in front of the theater and act out the entire film as it played. It didn’t take long for “Rocky Horror” to transcend its status as a mere movie; it had become a full blown experience.
And so it has remained for the past thirty-five years. Theaters all over the world continue to screen it every weekend at midnight. Audiences continue to dress up, shout at the screen, bring props, and sing along. And it continues to attract “virgins,” which, if you’re not familiar with “Rocky Horror” speak, translates as someone who hasn’t seen the film in a theater. As of 2010, it has earned nearly $140 million.
The plot could not be any stranger. Brad Majors and Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged conservative middle-American couple, get stranded in the middle of nowhere when their car blows a tire. After wandering for a few miles in the pouring rain, they find themselves at the castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite mad scientist from the planet Transsexual (located, we're told, in the galaxy of Transylvania). On that particular night, he’s ready to unveil his newest creation: A blonde-haired, muscle bound Frankenstein creature named Rocky (Peter Hinwood). As Brad and Janet stay for the night, they find themselves at the mercy of the castle’s weird inhabitants, including a tap dancing groupie named Columbia (Little Nell) and the incestuous brother/sister duo of Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien, who composed and scripted the original stage production). They also act upon deep-seeded sexual desires, aided in no small part by Frank’s insatiable appetite for physical pleasure.
All this is in the spirit of fun. But what about the soundtrack, an infectious compilation of rock ‘n’ roll tunes? Add that to the mix, and you have nothing short of a cult classic. I delight in the showstopping refrains of “Sweet Transvestite,” in which Tim Curry bravely struts his stuff in a corset, a garter belt, and spiked heels. I grin at the sappy indulgence of “Dammit Janet,” Barry Bostwick deftly capturing the innocent schoolboy routine. And I’m still compelled to stand up and follow along with the steps of “The Time Warp,” quite possibly one of the greatest songs ever written for the stage and screen. Ask any midnight attendee – they’re likely to feel the same way. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” proves that believable performances, compelling stories, breathtaking cinematography, and realistic dialogue aren’t always the hallmarks of cinematic greatness. Sometimes, it’s defined by how low a filmmaker is willing to set his standards.

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October 18, 2010
And let's not forget the marvelous final lines in the movie that change the camp to Profound. " And crawling on the planets face, some Insects called the human race, lost in time and lost in Space, and Meaning." Ha Ha simply marvelous.
October 18, 2010
Now I've gotta watch it again!
More The Rocky Horror Picture Show ... reviews
review by . June 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
**** 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 …
review by . March 16, 2011
This particular movie is a movie that everyone needs to see at least once in their lifetime. It's very fun and very campy but also very weird and at times a little unpleasant. Those unpleasant scenes and unpleasant concepts such as incest and cannibalism are the things that prevent me from giving this a 100 purely based on its camp value. That being said, this movie probably wouldn't have gotten made in this day and age and the big question it brings up is...just, why? That question can …
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 . 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
posted in Movie Hype
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
Chris Pandolfi ()
Ranked #5
Growing up a shy kid in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles, Chris Pandolfi knows all about the imagination. Pretend games were always the most fun for him, especially on the school playground; he and his … 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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