Film #4 on the 100 Movies Bucket List: The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a bonafide cult classic and I doubt there is anyone who would disagree with this. It flopped on first release at the cinema but soon after gained a massive cult following and became a hugely interactive musical experience. For me, I became part of this cult following at university and have attended a fair few parties and shows over the years (in fancy dress of course). However, it’s been quite some time since I watched this and seeing it again now makes for a rather interesting watch.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical directed by Jim Sharman, spanning a multitude of genres. It follows newly engaged (and rather wholesome) couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) as a flat tyre leaves them stranded and they’re left to seek shelter in a nearby castle owned by Dr Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry).
This film is undoubtedly bats**t crazy. The plot is absolutely bonkers – a group of aliens from the planet Transexual led by a mad scientist in his quest to make the perfect man. It spans so many genres from comic horror to glam-rock musical and everything in between. Its aim to spoof old school science fiction films is spot on, and there aren’t many films that can pull off cannibalism, murder and erotic sexual experimentation in the same 2 hour run time.
Admittedly there are some aspects of the plot that haven’t quite stood the test of time. 45 years ago the freedom exhibited around gender and sexuality was unlike anything anyone had ever seen and is still a rather wonderful thing to watch. However, there are other sides to this (such as lack of consent) which have become more apparent as society evolves and maybe aren’t quite acceptable now as they were back then. Fortunately, this doesn’t spoil the overall feel of the film and it’s still as camp and cheesy and kitsch as it ever was.
One of the reasons for this film’s success is Richard O Brien’s script and music, and his performance as Riff Raff is pretty creepy and fun too. It’s clever and smart, and the music is top-notch. The songs are some of the most catchy I’ve ever heard and they make you forget how crazy the plot is as soon as the music starts. From the legendary Time Warp to the wonderful Meat Loaf cameo on Hot Patootie, to the incredibly moving and inspirational Don’t Dream It, Be It, the songs are hugely memorable.
And then you have Tim Curry as Frank-N-Furter, in an absolute standout performance. He is perfect in Frank (I’ve yet to see anyone do it better) and it’s probably the best role he’s ever had. He looks like he’s having so much fun and steals every scene, you can’t take your eyes off him and that’s not just because he’s in stockings and suspenders. He makes you feel fascinated by Frank, disgusted and then ultimately sorry for him and this is no mean feat. No disrespect to the rest of the cast, but when Curry isn’t on screen the film does suffer ever so slightly.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a wacky, campy riot of a musical with a message that is heartwarming and inclusive. It may have aged a little over the years and certain topics don’t scrub up quite as well, but it’s still a hugely entertaining and unique musical experience.
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