The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) (first released in the United Kingdom on 14 August, 1975) is a comedy-horror musical film directed by Jim Sharman from a screenplay by Sharman and Richard O'Brien, who also composed the songs. The film was based on O'Brien's long-running stage production The Rocky Horror Show.

The film stars Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Curry. Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, Peter Hinwood, Jonathan Adams, Charles Gray, and O'Brien are featured in supporting roles. Rock singer Meat Loaf makes a brief appearance for one song. Curry, O'Brien, and Campbell were in the original cast of the play, and Meat Loaf joined them for the Broadway debut.

Contents

Plot outline

The story begins with a straitlaced couple, Brad Majors (Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Sarandon), musically pledging their engagement after attending the wedding of their friends, the Hapschatts. They decide to pay a visit to Dr. Everett v. Scott (Adams), their academic mentor and the man who introduced them to each other.

While driving to Dr. Scott's residence, they get a flat tire. With the spare also flat, they must walk back to a remote castle in the woods in hopes of finding a telephone. At the castle, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Curry), a gender-bending scientist from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, is throwing a party to celebrate the creation of his new strongman playmate, Rocky Horror (Hinwood). Frank N. Furter immediately takes a sexual interest in both Janet and Brad which eventually leads the couple to question their loyalty to each other. To the despair of Dr. Furter, Rocky is more interested in Janet than him.

Dr. Scott's nephew Eddie (Meat Loaf), a motorcycle-riding rocker, has been captured in the castle by Dr. Furter, who murders him for his reckless behavior. Eddie's former groupie and now Dr. Furter's assistant Columbia (Campbell) has conflicted feelings about both Eddie and the Doctor. The servants of the castle, Magenta (Quinn) and Riff-Raff (O'Brien) release Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott from the spell of the castle, kill the others to serve justice and return home to their planet of Transexual. A criminologist (Gray) narrates the story and appears from time to time to provide commentary on the actions.

Critical response

Taken at face value, the film could be considered as ground-breaking for its frank (albeit comical) depiction of subjects such as transvestism, homosexuality, and cannibalism. In addition, the scripting and design displays the writers' knowledge of the history of cinema even beyond the horror and science fiction film genres; for example, there are references to films as diverse as What's Up, Doc?, Rope, and Triumph of the Will. Nevertheless, the film did not do well initially when released, perhaps because the critics did not know what to make of it or what genre it might be placed in.

Cult following

In spite of (or perhaps because of) its initial luke-warm critical and commercial reception, the film developed a cult following and it began playing at midnight at the Waverly Theater in New York City. People began shouting responses to the characters' statements on the screen. These mostly include melodramatic abuse of the characters or actors, vulgar sex jokes, puns, or pop culture references. Casts of fans dress up as the characters and act out the movie in front of the screen. Other audience participation includes dancing the Time Warp, throwing toast, water, toilet paper, hot dogs, and rice at the appropriate points in the movie (many theaters forbid throwing things that are difficult to clean up, such as confetti or buttered toast). At the defunct Key Theater in Georgetown DC the theater manager would ride his motorcycle down the aisle during Meatloaf's/Eddie song, "Hot Patootie?" At the Tower Theater in Houston, people would celebrate Brad and Janet's wedding with 25-lb of rice. Audience members also use newspapers to cover their head and squirt guns for rain during the "There's A Light" musical sequence, and use noise makers during the scene where Rocky is unveiled. The whole phenomenon got a boost in 1980, with the release of the movie Fame, in which some characters attend a screening of RHPS at the Waverly.

People who have never seen the show are called "virgins", and those who attend the show frequently are called "sluts". Often, before the movie starts, a virgin hunt is conducted, where the virgins are brought down to the front of the theater and "have their cherries popped" or participate in "virgin games" in a special ceremony.

What were ad lib responses from the audience are now, in a few locales, as tightly scripted as any screenplay. Audience members who provide "incorrect" or poorly timed responses are angrily shouted down just as if they were being disruptive in a normal movie. However, creative new lines are usually applauded and even added to the local repertoire. In most theaters yelling at new lines (either incorrect or otherwise) or other participants is considered rude.

There have been audience participation albums recorded and scripts published. However, most fans feel that it is preferable for responses to grow organically from the local culture. For example, the audience members in Salt Lake City have utilized frequent references to the Mormon church and Brigham Young University. In most locales, new responses are regularly added to the canon (for example the introduction of references to South Park character Timmy at times when Dr. Scott is in a scene). Additionally, in some areas, the AP lines take note of current events (for example, the use of the name of a recent famous decedent in the line "Ladies and gentlemen: $NAME", when Riff-Raff opens the coffin at the beginning of the Time Warp).

Some arthouse cinemas will have a tradition of regularly playing the film on a particular date, especially Halloween. While the film—and associated live cast performances—are less popular than in its heyday, regular weekend showings can still be found in many states.

Shock Treatment a follow-up to RHPS was made but, despite its appeal to cult audiences and 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. A third film, Revenge of the Old Queen, was alleged to have been written by O'Brien but never filmed.

Trivia

  • Only Richard O'Brien knew about Eddie's carcass under the dining table, though Barry Bostwick can clearly be seen catching onto the references ("That's a rather tender subject").
  • For the 25th anniversary edition, the song dubs are replaced by the 5.1 songs from the soundtrack record; Rocky's voice part is sung by a completely different actor.
  • The surround mixes themselves did not appear on early prints of the movie; it was remixed into Chace Surround Stereo in the 1980s, and later prints tend to have this soundtrack (identifiable primarily because Rocky sings through most of the Floor Show, instead of speaking his lines) as well as the often missing "Superheroes" scene at the end, where Brad, Janet, and Dr Scott are lost in a foggy glen.
  • On the 25th Anniversary DVD, scroll down to Special Features (don't select it) and push left. This should highlight a pair of lips, which, when selected, will play the director's intended vision; the first 20 minutes are black and white, turning to colour when Riff Raff swings open the door, revealing Transylvanians (a la The Wizard of Oz).
  • The entire laboratory set was constructed with access only via an elevator (lift) before the team realised that Doctor Scott would need to reach it extremely quickly in a wheelchair. This is the sole reason for his appearance through a wall.
  • In the stage play, Doctor Scott does not have a German accent. Richard O'Brien claims that he advised the Fox team that Tim Curry's line "or should I say Doctor von Scott?!" would make no sense if everyone already knew he was German. They ignored him and the line remains one of the most baffling in the film, particularly since they left in Barry Bostwick's pun "Great Scott" (the nickname of a famous British explorer), which was originally designed to give a British theatre audience the opposite impression.
  • Fox refused permission for the backdrop of the "stage show" scene to contain the 20th Century Fox logo.
  • Susan Sarandon was unwell during the entire shooting of the film, suffering high temperatures and fever due to a severe case of Influenza.
  • An adventure game called Rocky Horror Interactive Picture Show was released to much hype but very little success. It was criticised for having a clumsy interface and outdated (2D) graphics.
  • There are at least three adult videos with names parodying the movie: The Rock Horror Porno Show, the Rocky Porno Video Show (which, surprisingly, actually does a creditable job parodying the movie as well, as unlikely as that may sound), and the Rock Erotic Video Show, whose box has characters costumed in a fashion which might suggest that it follows the plot of the movie somewhat... but does not.

External links

eo:Rocky Horror Picture Show fr:The Rocky Horror Picture Show it:The Rocky Horror Picture Show sv:The Rocky Horror Picture Show hu:The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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