Director: Jim Sharman
Cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Meat Loaf
Review Author: Tiffany
It has come to my attention that a lot of people don’t know about The Rocky Horror Picture Show. This is something I just cannot accept, and so, here is a beginners guide. Chances are you do actually know about Rocky Horror, you just don’t know that you know it. Red lips on a black background? The Time Warp? People dressing up in the cinema? Hopefully, these are somewhat familiar. Simply put, Rocky Horror is a film ( not the one with flowers that eat people- that’s Little Shop of Horrors- remarkably common confusion). In actuality, it was and is something of a phenomenon.
It all began with actor Richard O Brien (you probably know him as the host of The Crystal Maze). He was a struggling actor and decided he would write a musical and get his fellow actor friends to be in it. All as a mere project, not expecting the madness that would soon unfurl. How can an actor write a musical you might ask? Well, that’s the beauty of Rocky Horror, it is about as well thought out as a musical anyone would write while messing around with friends in that, it is not that well thought out. And therein lies the magic.
Instead of a clean narrative with every last second exhaustingly planned, Rocky Horror maintains a real sense of uninhibited fun. The fun had while creating it leaps off the screen, while the remarkable talents of all involved are seamlessly woven throughout. It is at times satirical, at times camp, at times raunchy but ultimately it is uplifting and endearing.
So what is it about? Well, Janet and Brad, two cookie cutter Americans get engaged and decide to go and visit their old science teacher, as you do. While driving there, their car breaks down and they are stranded. The only house for miles is a not-at-all-suspicious-looking castle at Frankenstein Place, where they approach to ask to use the telephone. From there, chaos ensues. The film documents the unspecified amount of time that they spend in the house with the characters that inhabit it, all interspersed with a jolly good song and dance. The narrative structure itself is one we’ve seen many times before; following a stranger into an unknown land, but that land is definitely something we have not seen before.
Initially, the musical was performed on stage before being picked up for a film. The cast, unsurprisingly, remained the same, except Brad and Janet. The Americans were replaced to have real Americans playing them. The film was made and released and was not much of a success, to begin with. You see, it is not necessarily a well-made film, there are jump cuts and sound issues, never mind the complete bizarre nature of the film, particularly for the time it was released. It is, nonetheless something of a masterpiece and, like all good cult films, it began to grow a niche following.
Theses fans engage with the film in a totally different way to how one expects to watch a film (quietly in a dark cinema). Instead, this film grew traditions. People dressed up as their favourite characters and shouted what soon became scripted responses at the screen. The audience became a secondary character to the whole film, something that has not, to my knowledge, been achieved on this scale since. To this day Rocky Horror has the ability to sell out screenings and live performances and fill the stalls with people who have developed a special connection to the film over the years.
So, why should you watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Well, apart from being a cinematic and musical legend, it is just generally worth a watch. It is unlike anything you’ve seen before and will probably see again. The acting is outstanding, Tim Curry, in particular, shines, along with a whole host of familiar faces. It is far from the most polished, perfect musical you will ever see, but it sure is entertaining. It really is… astounding (if you watch the film, that will make more sense).