- Rated R
- Buy the BD
Reviewed by David Medsker
lee” creator Ryan Murphy has talked of remaking “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” and that makes sense given his recent Gleeification of the movie, but here’s the thing: this is one movie that should not be remade under any circumstances, and we don’t say this because we consider the original to be beyond reproach. It’s for the opposite reason – the original is incredibly flawed, which is what makes it such a fascinating viewing experience. Anyone who remade the movie would only try to improve it, and to do so would be missing the point completely. The beauty of “Rocky Horror” lies in the mistakes, the pregnant pauses, the clumsy dialogue, the suspect acting. It is all those things, plus a killer songbook, that have elevated the movie to its distinction as the biggest cult movie of all time. To make this movie better would only make it worse.
Inspired by the recent nuptials of his best friend, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) proposes to his girlfriend Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), and as the two go for a drive afterwards, they get lost, blow a tire, and walk through the rain to a nearby castle to call for help. The castle’s servants welcome them in to meet their master, Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a cross-dressing alien who’s working on a machine that will make him the perfect boy toy, Rocky (Peter Hinwood). But Frank isn’t above corrupting his new guests, or murdering his old ones.
This is one of the few times where the plot is beside the point; the stage play on which the movie is based is a satire of bad sci-fi movies in the first place, so a flimsy plot is just what the doctor ordered. Yes, Rocky’s first words are in Bowie-esque song, after which he is reduced to grunts. That’s how musicals and bad sci-fi movies work. As Basil Exposition would say, just go with it.
There is no point of critiquing the acting, either. Those who worked on the UK stage show (Curry, “Rocky Horror” writer Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell) are campy and fabulous because, well, they’ve done it a million times before, while Bostwick and Sarandon are supposed to flail, and strip, and jiggle. The set pieces are cheap, the choreography is wonderfully out of sync, and the soundtrack is one of the best glam albums ever made. Find another movie from this time or any other that would not only allow such things but embrace them (and from a major studio like 20th Century Fox, no less). That is why “Rocky Horror” has endured; it’s the awkward teen of musicals, still trying to figure everything out. No wonder it finds a new audience with each generation.
“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is a brilliant mistake, a faithful-to-a-fault love letter to bad taste that changed the very definition of bad taste. As a viewing experience – preferably at midnight in a run-down theater – it’s as five-star an affair as they come. As moviemaking goes, however, it loses some points, however intentional those flaws may be. Hollywood, don’t waste time remaking “Rocky Horror”; try making the next “Rocky Horror.”
35th Anniversary Edition Review
The 35th anniversary Blu-ray edition of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is an embarrassment of riches both old and new. There is a karaoke option where the viewer can sing along with the songs, along with four layered features that will show movie trivia, the audience participation dialogue, clips of shadow-dance performers lip syncing the songs on a stage, and a prop feature that will generate rice, squirt guns, etc. There is a photo gallery by Mick Rock, an interview with Rock discussing the shoot, and an hour-long featurette on the auditions and casting of the shadow-dance performers that will be used in the bonus feature above. Richard “Riff Raff” O’Brien and Patricia “Magenta” Quinn contribute an audio commentary, there are alternate openings and endings, deleted musical numbers, and the sound mix is incredible, as is the video transfer. The only thing the set is missing is an audio track recording of the audience participation to go with the subtitles. The absence of this is surprising, but not unforgivable, especially when you consider how much the set does include.