Rocky Horror Picture Show [retro review]

“I’m just a sweet transvestite, from Transsexual Transylvania.”

The Scoop: 1975 R, directed by Jim Sharman and starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick.

Tagline: A Different Set Of Jaws.

Summary Capsule: Okay, so there’s this ultimate cult movie about transvestites and musical numbers. We don’t make this stuff up, people, we just subject ourselves to hour after hour of it.

Kyle’s Rating: Great music and characters, trouble is they talk and stuff.

Kyle’s Review: I like this movie, kinda. What do I mean? Well, I love the music. I’ve worn out my movie soundtrack cassette, and I’m waiting for a sale to buy the CD. In high school, a few yearbook chicks and I (a respectable newspaperman) would occasionally burst out into a RHPS song, which was more fun than it sounds.

But as for the movie, well, I don’t think too much of it. It’s fun and all, and I can bear watching it every so often just to point things out to friends (like hey, there’s Blofeld as he appeared in Diamonds Are Forever!) but mostly I just like the music. The movie is silly fun tripe, but I can’t see watching this over and over unless you disturbingly relate it to your life, you live in one of those towns where they play it every week at midnight for freaky fans, or you put it in the VCR and then became paralyzed, and can’t shut it off. Ever.

If you want, see it once just so you can say you did. You might like it, you might not. I’ve met people who I thought would like it and people who I thought wouldn’t, and their roles were reversed. The best thing I can say about this movie was that I once went to a Sci-Fi convention in Colorado a few years back and met a girl dressed like Magenta, complete with red frizzy hair and a french maid’s uniform, and had a night-time adventure more bizarre and twisted than this movie could hope to be. And that was fun. So there you go.

Andie’s Rating: 2, 4, 6, 8, show us how you masturbate….

Andie’s Review: Wow, for being truly the definitive cult movie of all time, this is really getting panned by the Mutant Reviewers. Well, never fear, here I am to redeem it!

RHPS is a great movie! It has all the elements of a true cult movie. It’s cheezy and old, yet continues to get hundreds of people to dress like freaks and flock to movie theaters at midnight, ready to sing along and shout things at the movie.

Tim Curry is awesome in this movie, he’s so bizarre! You’ll never look at him the same way again. Also, it’s great seeing Susan Sarandon singing about how she wants to be dirty. Your view of Little Women will never be the same again.

I will admit that this movie just does not pack the same punch if you rent it and watch it by yourself. You HAVE to go see it in the theater. It’s more of an experience than just going to the movies. Most of the laughs come from what the audience yells, not the actual movie. The first time I went, I dressed up pretty sleazy and since I was a virgin (I’d never seen the movie before) I was auctioned off before the movie started to a couple college guys who kept trying to grope me. And I was only 15! But it was still awesome because the atmosphere is spectacular. Nobody cares who you are or what you look like, everyone is just there to have a good time. So, if you’re not afraid and prudish and close-minded, get yourself to a midnight showing of this movie. It’s a good time. “Let’s do the time warp again….”

Justin’s Rating: “This review is still pending, of course, to that unforseeable future when I actually watch the whole thing.” – Justin, circa 1998

Justin’s Review: When it comes to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, we could be talking about two different things: Rocky Horror the Movie, or Rocky Horror the Cult Experience. The void between the two is vast, unfathomable, and filled with smelly black things.

Ever since way back in ’98 or so when I first gave this movie a pass and posted a review based on the 15 minutes I watched before shutting it off, I felt a deep sense of shame that I had not given perhaps the premiere cult film of all time a fair shake. And a follow-up shake, to avoid drippage (guys, you know of which I speak). The problem of a re-review was that it meant I’d have to re-watch it, and my mind kept coming up with more important priorities in my life to put that off, such as root canal and tax season. Finally, however, I got around to it… and I so wish I had not.

Rocky Horror The Movie is a near-unwatchable mess, to be frank-n-furter (ha). Now, hold on, you die-hard RHPS fans who this very moment are preparing to abduct me and force me to prostitute myself in drag, let’s be reasonable. No matter how much leeway you’re prepared to give the film for camp value, cheese, or all-out weirdness, it’s basically two hours of unyielding torment for viewers who were weaned outside of an insane asylum.

I find myself wishing to say “The problem is…” and then going on to deliver some sort of definitive deathblow to the crux of the matter. I love the word “crux”, by the way. But the problem with “the problem is…” is that there is no one problem; nay, it’s an entire nest of poisonous snakes writhing and snapping at my soul. I guess I can start with this: the movie is really just about fifteen minutes of actual plot, and that’s being generous with the scriptwriters. The padding comes in the form of 19 musical numbers — yes, nineteen — that inflate this film to normal size with no real filling. Literally, it’s about 30 seconds of dialogue or action, followed by shrieking, hideous songs that (for the most part) are not catchy or even in tune. I gave it the old college try and stuck with the songs, giving them my full attention, until about the halfway point. At this mile marker, my eyes and ears glazed over in a protective, sticky coating, and gauze was wrapped around my mouth to contain the drool.

The songs aren’t the only things wrong with RHPS; to be honest, very little is right with the film. The story of two wayward travelers who get stuck at a castle in the middle of the night, infested with a transsexual mad scientist, his latest creation, and a number of backup dancers is put forth very much like a play: single set pieces that are designed to let the maximum number of people prance around and hoot and holler until something interesting happens. Which never does, by the way. Tim Curry as Frank N. Furter is the main attraction, a beyond-bizarre apparition of pantyhose, leather and makeup who will forever haunt my nightmares, easily replacing the creepy TV girl from The Ring. There are other characters and some sort of weird love triangle (or octagon, I’m not good with basic shapes) and aliens and OH MY SWEET MERCIFUL ZEUS, LET THE SINGING END!

By the end of the movie, I realized that it could’ve just kept going on indefinitely — short dialogue piece, long musical number about nothing in particular — and I’d be powerless to stop it. Pure hell.

Going back the RHPS fans who now find me distasteful, as I do their particular brand of role model, I only ask that you understand what this movie looks like to the newcomer. It’s a piece of dookie, plain and simple. Now, I’ve been known to like celluloid crap and appreciate the cult value of it, and if it does it for you, then go off and rub mustard in your hair or whatever you weirdos do. I know that Rocky Horror as a midnight movie theater experience is a much different thing, and what really gave this film its cult moniker. Perhaps it’s just a bold license for somewhat normal people to throw off all inhibitions, dress in kinky drag, and throw rice at the screen while singing along to horrid songs, which is what many high stress professions require after a week of hard labor. From what I’ve ascertained from reading about the theater experience, watching clips of RHPS showings, and talking to friends who’ve gone, I really cannot see the attraction. And this is coming from a guy with freaking shrunken heads in his apartment.

Does this make me a hypocrite or just an honest man, that I promote this as a cult movie site and yet loathe a forefather to the cult revolution? I leave that to you to decide. Just count your lucky stars I won’t sing about it to you.

Watch out! It's looking for something to blot on!

Intermission!

  • Brad & Janet’s bedrooms are exactly the same, except for the color.
  • All the pull switches look like, er, the male organ.
  • Columbia flashes her nipple (through a hole in her pj’s) when she yells at Frank.
  • Frank, Riff Raff, Magenta, and Columbia all appear (out of makeup) in the “Dammit Janet” church scene (as the preacher and the caretakers)
  • All the Transylvanians are wearing sunglasses during the Time Warp.
  • The Criminologist (aka the guy with no neck) tells us this happens in November, yet we hear Nixon’s resignation speech, which happened in August.
  • The Criminologist has an electric globe, which glows during the credits.
  • Meat Loaf!
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show has taken in over $139 million in box office receipts since its release, which makes it the highest grossing movie to have never played in more than 1,000 movie theatres at the same time. The length of its run in cinemas (weekly for over 30 years) combined with its considerable total box office gross is unparalleled by any other film.
  • The Museum Lichtspiele in Munich, Germany has been screening the movie without interruption since September 19th, 1975, and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
  • Participation in the theater experience got a boost in 1980, with the release of the movie Fame, in which some characters attend a screening of Rocky Horror at the Eighth Street Playhouse.
  • Shock Treatment, a follow-up to RHPS, was made, but despite its appeal to cult audiences and its campy nature, it has not caught on as well as the original. It features O’Brien, Quinn, Campbell and Gray in different roles and the characters Brad and Janet, played by different actors.

Groovy Quotes

Narrator: And crawling om this planet’s face, some insects called the human race. Lost in time. And lost in space… and meaning.

Frank [singing]: I’m just a sweet transvestite, from Transsexual Transylvania.

Magenta: I ask for nothing!
Frank-N-Furter: And you shall receive it, IN ABUNDANCE!

Brad: (sees Dr. Scott on the monitor) Hey, Scotty! (explaining, indicates Scott) Dr. Everett Scott.
Riff Raff: You know this earthling?
[Frank bangs on the monitor in front of Riff Raff]
Riff Raff: (correcting)…person?

[in reference to the newly-created Rocky]
Riff Raff: He’s a credit to your genius, master.
Frank: Yes.
Magenta: A triumph of your will.
Frank: Yes.
Columbia: He’s OK.
Frank: Ok? OK? I think we can do a little better than that!

Janet: What have you done to Brad?
FranknFurter: Nothing. Why, do you think I should?

Magenta and Columbia: Tell us about it, Janet!

If You Liked This Movie, Try These:

  • Shock Treatment
  • Cannibal! The Musical
  • The Phantom of the Opera
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11 Comments

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