Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Halloween Holocaust: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975)

Maybe the most financially successful midnight movie of all time, and certainly the longest running, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is also perhaps the quintessential cult film. One merely has to look at the almost religious and ritualistic levels of audience participation it has inspired for evidence of this. To the uninitiated viewer it can be a potentially bewildering and/or slightly bemusing experience, due to it's wild mix of B-Movie horror tropes, cross-dressing, and its consistently memorable rock and roll musical numbers, that often blur the line between camp and operatic, and frequently erase it all together. However, repeat viewings reveal it to be both richly interesting and, at times, surprisingly melancholic.     

Essentially the story of some young innocents abroad, who are stuck in an Old Dark House on a stormy night, the film follows Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and his fiance Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), a pair of archtypically wholesome 50's teens who are forced to seek temporary shelter and assistance within this strange and foreboding abode when their car breaks down. Unsurprisingly, it turns out they've stumbled into some singularly strange shenanigans; a premiere party, if you will, for the unveiling of a man made man. The Victor Frankenstein in this scenario is the polymorphously perverse Dr. Frank-N-Furter (the fabulous Tim Curry, who almost steals the entire movie), a self-confessed, sweet transvestite, from transsexual Transylvania. Aside from completing the Promethean project he's currently engaged in, he's also soon experimenting, so to speak, with the sheltered and virginal couple.

Frank-N-Furter's monster, we soon discover, is actually anything but, especially in terms of appearance. The Doctor has created himself a ripped, Aryan, and unequivocally male bride, who he's christened Rocky (Peter Hinwood). Thanks to the evil machinations of scheming servant Riff Raff (played by co-writer and creator of the original stage show Richard O'Brien), this new creation is soon running scared and later, also helping to further precipitate Janet's sexual awakening. Meat Loaf makes a brief, gate-crashing appearance as a rebellious biker who has been put on ice after having some of his brain removed and donated to Rocky. 

To save a few surprises for those unfamiliar with the movie, I'll resist the urge to synopsise any further. As I suggested earlier though, it's worth bearing in mind that the tone of the movie shifts quite dramatically as the story heads towards its conclusion. One could say (without hopefully giving too much away) that the end of the film is kind of like the sobering, somber comedown that follows a wild, eye-opening, horizon-expanding party. 


  1. Glad to hear it... hope you ran with that feeling and gave "yourself over to absolute pleasure" :)