The Rocky Horror Picture Show

It’s difficult to assign a genre to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Its part Sci-Fi, part satire and part musical

One of the big buzzwords today is ‘interactive’. Twenty-five years ago, before the advent of the personal computer, interactive film began with a small budget film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Following one night in the lives of newly engaged Janet and Brad (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) as their car breaks down and they are forced to seek help in a remote castle. There, the couple finds their lives forever changed. It’s difficult to assign a genre to this cult classic. Its part Sci-Fi, part satire and part musical. In fact, the music used in The Rocky Horror Picture Show has endured as rock classics on their own. The owner of the castle is Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania. Added by his faithful handyman Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien), His domestic Magenta (Patricia Quinn) and a groupie Columbia (Neil ‘Little Neil’ Cambell) Brad and Janet experience things their small town life could never prepare them for.

While many people have played these parts on the stage, the screen cast is not only the best know but by far the most perfectly cast. Sarandon as the innocent Janet is great. While little in this role demonstrates the talent this woman has and would grow into later in her career, the role of Janet is played in the best possible light. Curry as the strange Furter steals the show. While this role typecast him for many years after, his performance sparked almost two generations of impersonators. One of he best songs of the show is by MeatLoaf as Eddie, a delivery boy. Then there is the creator of the show, O’Brien, as the handyman Riff Raff. His voice goes from almost angelic to a pitch that can cut through the air.

Jim Sharman directed The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His use of camera, lighting and setup is a bit pedantic but this is a cult classic after all so most people are not looking for a masterpiece here. The action never has a chance to falter, the constant song and dance routines move The Rocky Horror Picture Show along at a rapid pace.

The real star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the DVD format. The two-disc set is excellent. The remixed Dolby 5.1 sound betrays its mono origins with only an occasional use of the rear speakers for anything other than reverberation. The sub woofer comes alive with the music pounding out the bass lines. Even the front speakers make excellent use of the lower ranges. The video is far better than I had hoped for such an old film. The 1.66:1 anamorphic transfer is clean with only one or two minor defects. There are three versions on the main disc. The first is the well know American version, the second the UK version, which includes the song Superheroes and the last is a special nod to O’Brien. This version starts off in black and white changing to color after Brad and Janet enter the castle. The second disc is all extras. There are sing alongs, alternate scenes and a number of takes for well know scenes. While nothing can replace going to a midnight showing of this movie in NYC’s Greenwich Village this DVD is as close as many will ever get. From the first lick of the ruby red lips to the final swim in the pool you will be captivated by this reckless romp through the bizarre.

Review by Doug MacLean of

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