The Rock Horror Picture Show

Director: Jim Sharman


Richard O’Brien‘s unusual stage musical was translated onto the big screen in 1975, and on its initial release it flopped. However, when a New York cinema began to show it at midnight screening word soon spread about the odd spoof sci-fi/horror film. It became cult viewing” (592, Joanna Berry, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) One of the things on my bucket list is to catch a midnight screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in New York!  It’s become majorly iconic much in the same way Grease (Randal Kleiser, 1978) has – everyone knows the “Time Warp” even if they’ve never seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show before. Everything about this film screams cult following! The songs are toe-tappingly catchy and easily remembered; there’s the group dance number (“Time Warp”) easy enough for anyone to do that always gets an airing at any big social event … it’s not a party unless you’ve done the “Time Warp”; gorgeous costumes that are instantly recognizable and lend themselves perfectly to costume parties and fancy dress. “It is easy to see why the easy-to-remember songs and quotable dialogue have been such a hit with fans” (593)

“The mixture of brazen sexuality, tongue-in-cheek humor, outrageous clothing, and double entendres are not quite like anything else ever committed to film.” (593) Everyone is stunning in it especially Tim Curry as Frank ‘N’ Furter – there is a bizarre sexuality to him and he looks damn good in those costumes. It’s a shame that I’ve heard Tim Curry really doesn’t like tis character now but then I suppose when you consider yourself a serious actor the last thing you want to be most remembered for is an alien transvestite in a cult phenomenon. Indeed I saw him on stage last year when he was, briefly, in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and I couldn’t help but burst into song (in my head of course) every time he came on. A sense of debauchery surrounds The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Somehow it makes sexual diversity palatable although there are of course negative consequences to the kind of lifestyle Furter leads – “It’s all over. Your mission is a failure. Your lifestyles too extreme.” He sucks Brad and Janet … and to some extent the audience too … into his alternative lifestyle. And its easy to see why, Curry oozes sex even in makeup and women’s underwear.

I’ve been a big Richard O’Brien fan since my childhood thanks to the legendary The Crystal Maze (1990-1995). He is so deliciously bizarre as Riff Raff not just in terms of looks but character as well. Brad (Barry Bostwick) is actually pretty attractive despite the oh so sexy y-fronts. Meatloaf is brilliant as Eddie with one of my favourite songs in the whole film – Hot Patootie – and believe me it’s hard to choose, they’re all so good. It’s so melodramatic with over-the-top acting best evidenced in Susan Sarandon’s Janet but that totally fits the film. There’s a knowledge and love of B-movies with a number of references throughout the film especially King Kong (1933) – mentions of Fay Wray and Rocky’s demise at the end of the film.

Glee doing Rocky Horror brings the film to an entirely new audience ensuring that its cult status will continue for a long, long time. I love that all the characters are present at the wedding before it all gets just a little bit weird. I introduced it to my sister and her group of friends – perhaps a bit earlier than I should have as she was only just in her teens – and it became a fast favourite. I’m determined to try to see the stage version when it its the road again (on its 40th Anniversary Tour don’t you know!!)  The vignettes of the seduction scenes with Janet in red and Brad in blue following pretty much the exactly the same script ties the two scenes together. There is a voyeuristic element with not only Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia watching all that goes on but we the audience are too. I love the red lips that open the film – I’m still trying to work out how they so perfectly and completely managed to remove the rest of the face all these years later.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show may not be one to watch with Grandma, perhaps, but it’s a terrific exercise in kitsch fun nonetheless.” (593) It’s not a film you take seriously. You kind of have to just accept it and go along for the ride no matter how strange it may be! It’s one of the films I put on if I’ve had a particularly awful day (like today when I’m so full of cold the only option is to curl up with my dog and watch films) Without fail it always cheers me up.






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