'A sensual daydream to treasure forever'
A DVD review of The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 25 years
of Absolute Pleasure 2 disc DVD
So it was that I sat here and decided that I should do more on h2g2. After much rummaging I came up with little to do, until a thought hit Me.
Awix is a regular writer for the h2g2 Post, and is the author of the '24 Lies a Second' articles on films. I'll admit now that I do admire his writing, but film reviewers are fickle creatures easily swayed by various things (This includes myself of course). His review of Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King didn't sit comfortably with me, and I generally moaned about it for a week or so due to my differing opinion. This resulted in the all too common challenge.
'You do it if you think you can do it better'
So, I've decided it was about time I did!
In my articles I plan to trawl through much of my DVD collection. Being a student, DVD's are the ultimate bargain media. The various extra discs that come with the DVD usually entail a plethora of extra options, extending the amount of use you'll get out of them.
I nearly abandoned this task due to the sheer amount of things that can be put onto a DVD, with the extended Lord Of The Rings being the best example. With a heavy heart I came close to abandoning my task in favour of doing more work at college.
It was in a brief respite from my arduous study at college that I found my muse.
The Rocky Horror Picture show is being shown at the Lowry centre in a sing-along format. I had found what I was looking for.
Brief history to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
The Rocky Horror Show started life as a stage-musical production written by the enigmatic figure of Richard O'Brien (most people in Britain will remember him from the Crystal Maze game show) who took to the stage himself as Riff Raff. This all happened in the heady days of 1973.
The show quickly achieved cult status, with fans swarming to each show dressed as their favourite characters. Of course, as always happens with such things, the film companies started to gather round and it was News Corporations' company 20th Century Fox that won the rights to make the film, under the close scrutiny of Richard O'Brien. Two years later, the film version was unleashed upon the general public.
Since then the show (on both stage and screen) has gone from strength to strength. The all too common call and responses seen at pantomimes ('Oh no I didn't' etc etc) have been twisted to play on the various sexual connotations contained within the script (although whether these were intentional or not remains a mystery that I wouldn't like answered). The film, having achieved a huge cult following, still runs to this day, which makes it the longest running film in history.
It's not been all easy sailing however. Its strong themes of homoeroticism and transvestitism have caused uproar from many corners as well as earning it a censorship on at least one occasion.
The show celebrated its pearl anniversary last year.
The DVD box:
Well it's clear from the front cover that this isn't a film for the faint hearted, with Tim Curry draped, fishnets and all, over a set of blood red lips. The box is made of cardboard and acts as a sleeve for the three-panelled DVD holder inside. Included is an informative, if short, booklet detailing various bits about the cast. More information would have been nicer, but seeing as though each available space is covered with a well-printed picture of the cast, I'm not too disappointed. The DVD box is also very durable which I was very sceptical about when I first bought it. Having owned it for nearly a year, it looks as good as new, and it could, in my opinion, easily stand the test of time.
Opinion:- Probably an 8/10, if only because of the short booklet. Otherwise probably one of the most well thought out and innovative DVD cases I own.
The Film:- The film beginnings can be summarized as taking place 'on an ordinary night, a night like any other'1 and the first few musical numbers give only the barest of glimpses as to what lies ahead for the audience. The Opening number does a superb job of establishing its sci-fi basis, referencing many old sci-fi classics. Our protagonists are first introduced in this wedding sequence as Brad Majors (played by Barry
Bostwick) and Janet Wice (Susan 'Buffy's-mum' Sharandon). They, in suitably cheesy style, get engaged. They head off naturally to the man who first got them together, their science teacher Dr Everett V Scott (Jonathan Adams). However, on the way they get a puncture, and so are forced to head to a castle2 that they past.
From here the tale becomes twisted in every sense of the word. Transvestites and zombies for everyone. Richard O'Brien makes his second appearance in the film, returning to his favoured role as Riff Raff the butler. He is joined by Patricia Quinn, who plays Magenta the maid.
The memorable 'Time Warp' kicks in, and you can't help but smile at the quirky and amazing Transylvanians dancing. Columbia, played by Nell Campbell, makes her appearance as the tap-dancing groupie, adding to the repertoire of astounding and bedazzling characters. Our Hero and Heroine make to leave, but the wonderful figure of our host, Doctor
Frank-N-Furter (played by the brilliant Tim Curry) blocks their path. With the cry of 'Sweet Transvestite', Curry throws off his long cape revealing a bodice and fishnet stockings that will have even the most morbid of viewers laughing.
The story continues up in Frank's lab, where he reveals his plans to make the perfect man. This turns out to be the heavily muscled and scantily clad Rocky (played by the reclusive Peter Hinwood). Another memorable song and dance later, and Meatloaf appears in typical rock star fashion: driving his motorbike through a sheet of ice. He dances and sings with his groupie Columbia, before Frank hacks him to bits.
Another few songs later and Dr Scott arrives. We learn a few more things about Eddie but I don't want to spoil the plot too much. Suffice to say he arrives and there's some shocking news for Brad and Janet.
A 'meal3' later and the cast are turned to stone by one of Franks inventions, ready for the wonderful and tragic ending.
The acting is top notch and, having seen two different productions of Rocky Horror, I don't think it's going to be matched. Each actor makes the character his own, from Charles Gray's wonderful seriousness (even when he dances on a table), the sheer energy exuded by Nell Campbell, to the sublime and strangely alluring Tim Curry4. It is an amazing tongue in cheek kind of film, and it is this nature that has offended some viewers. However, if you have an easy going and open-minded sense of humour you'll find Rocky Horror a pleasant and refreshing breeze. For anyone other then this, you have been warned5!
It's not a film for all the family to put it nicely, but for teenagers and adults alike it's a brilliance that isn't easily achieved. It can't be defined like most films. Simply slotting it into the musical genre doesn't work, as it would put it alongside The Sound of Music and Chitty-chitty Bang-bang. Simply put Rocky Horror is an adult musical, with enough comedy to keep everyone happy.
The Menu's:- The menus are suitably Rocky Horror-esque, with dancing legs and talking lips galore. For the complexity they run quite well, and don't feature repetitive music like some films do. The lips make reference to the film, and are highly entertaining, although it does repeat if left for a long period.
The commentaries:– The main commentary I'd advise you to listen to is the audience commentary. This is a recording of a group of (American sounding) fans watching Rocky Horror. This may seem unusual. 'What's an audience going to do?' I hear you cry. Well a lot in fact. Remember that this is Rocky Horror, and the rules of sitting quietly and enjoying a film don't apply. Expect to hear lots of 'A***hole's' and 'Sluts' for Brad and Janet respectively.
Another feature is the audience participation feature, which inserts clips of a showing after various scenes. This sounds odd, and isn't advised if you just want to watch the film as the various interruptions can prove annoying. However, those with the time and patience are rewarded well. The audience participation mentioned in the booklet may seem like a joke. That is of course, until you see it all in action...
The best way to watch Rocky Horror is undoubtedly with other people (the more the merrier), but this isn't always an option in the hectic world we live in. The commentaries change that and I advise you all to watch the DVD at least once through with the commentaries.
Languages and subtitles:- Only in English I'm afraid, with seven different subtitles. There is also the added bonus of a participation prompter, indicating when various food items should be hurled around the room.
Opinion:- The film is a cinema classic, but not for its amazing graphics or stunning effects. It's a low budget film, and this tells in places, but merely adds to the character of the film and I highly recommend you all to watch it at least once.
The additional features add a new level to Rocky Horror that fans will love, and that people new to Rocky Horror will enjoy as something different and entertaining. Although only one feature can be played at a time (including subtitles), meaning that you can either listen to the audience or participate on your own.
Overall I would give it only an eight out of ten, but the extras improve this to 9.
When I'd finished with the first disc I eagerly moved on to the second disc wanting more. It's my sad duty to report however, that this ended in disappointment.
Deleted scenes and outtakes:- The deleted scene was a song, called 'Once in Awhile'. This features roughly in the middle of the play, after Brad cheats on Janet with a certain Transvestite doctor. It's pretty pointless although die-hard fans might like It.
I've included outtakes with deleted scenes because they're just as bad. There's nothing interesting apart from a bit of footage showing the 'Time Warp' dance sequence without music. I wouldn't bother again.
Documentaries:- The main reason to put this disc into your DVD player is the commentaries. The 'double feature video show' documentary is clearly dated, but like so much to do with Rocky Horror still retains its charm.
The VH1 documentary is fairly interesting, featuring Richard O'Brien taking a tour around the house where the film was shot, whilst playing various songs on an acoustic guitar. It's good to see that a building that was once written off and ready to be bulldozed has gotten a new lease of life thanks to a few songs
The 'Where are they now' wasn't that interesting, but the other documentaries easily make up for its shortcomings. Featuring most of the original cast, including Richard O'Brien, anecdotes are revealed about filming that fans will enjoy.
Extra's:- The rest of the DVD features the usual stuff such as theatrical trailers and a photo gallery. There is also a misprint ending, although it's not that interesting and should have been left off.
There are two sing-along's which seems a bit pointless to me as, if you want to sing along, you can simply put the film on with subtitles, so another waste of time.
There is also a section from VH1's pop-up video show, featuring 'Hot Patootie' (Meatloaf's number) although again it contains little information of interest
Opinion:- Personally it is not worth the hassle. Watching the film is far more enjoyable then anything on the DVD, although the documentaries are fairly decent and are worth a look. Overall due to the amount of material that wasn't necessary, only a 4 out of ten.
The first disc was amazing, but the second disc is a total let down. It's worth a look if you can get it for a fairly cheap price, but otherwise I'd stick with the standard VHS and invite a few friends around instead.
Having said that, the extra features on the first DVD are brilliant, so if you have the cash then its a decent investment, as the film literally is a 'sensual day-dream to treasure forever'.
7 / 10
Well that's it. The first review under the belt. The question is what to use next? I'm thinking about Starship Troopers Two, but no guarantees...
Till next time.
technically no castles, but this is one of a few nuances that are easily ignored and forgotten.3When I say meal, what I really mean is an Eddie flavoured meal...4I'm straight, but even so he does look mighty fine in those fish nets... Such is the effect of Rocky Horror.5Although the transvestite on the cover should give the contents away.