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The Rocky Horror Picture Show(1975)
When bland engaged couple Brad and Janet seek shelter after their car breaks down in a storm, they find themselves made welcome in the very weird home of mad scientist Dr Frank N. Furter, an alien transvestite who is building a monster called Rocky.
For more about The Rocky Horror Picture Show and the The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray release, see The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 16, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien, Meat Loaf, Patricia Quinn (I)
Director: Jim Sharman
» See full cast & crew
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray Review
Let’s do the Time Warp again!
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 16, 2010
The Rocky Horror Picture Show—that ever-reigning champ amongst midnight movies, the queen of all that is camp, and the most cultish of cult films—may be 35 years old now, but it's still as deliciously deviant as ever. Originally written as a stage musical by Richard O'Brien—who appears here as the hunchbacked, Igor-esque butler Riff Raff—the film adaptation is a send-up of B-movie sci-fi/horror clichés and a satire of mainstream America's reaction to the depravities of the sexual revolution. What's remarkable is that, despite our increasingly open, sex-saturated culture, Rocky Horror continues to give off a distinct whiff of taboo, a tingly sweat-and-leather scented effervescence. Compared to the omnisexual rapaciousness of actor Tim Curry in fishnets, garters, and pearls, seducing men and women alike, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry look positively vanilla. That said, the slightly seedy, pheromone-infused vibe is only part of Rocky Horror's legendary appeal. The film first lapped the midnight movie circuit in 1975, and it has never entirely stopped, playing weekly in theaters around the world to crowds of adoring devotees who, over the years, have developed a complex, audience participation liturgy that involves throwing stuff at the screen, shouting sarcastic remarks, and miming the actors. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a fairly good film on its own merits, but its cult of followers turn it into something more: a one-of-a-kind pop culture phenomenon.
I'll attempt to summarize the story for you first-timers—or, "virgins" in the Rocky Horror parlance—but don't expect it to make much sense. This is a film where plot is secondary to the sheer onslaught of sight and sound. We're introduced to the newly engaged Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), two young "Ike Age" conservatives who are squarer than a pizza box. He's vaguely Clark Kent-ish, with horn rims and an All-American chin, and she looks like she just came from a Daughters of the American Revolution meeting. When their car gets a flat, they stumble in the rain up to a rickety gothic castle, where they're greeted by Riff Raff (O'Brien), a flaxen-haired manservant with gangly Nosferatu limbs. "You've arrived on a rather special night," he intones, "It's one of the master's affairs." After watching a gaggle of freakishly attired party- goers do the "Time Warp," a dance that involves much pelvic thrusting, Brad and Janet finally meet "the master," the vampirically red-lipped Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), who whips off his cape to reveal a drag queen corset and stockings, and then introduces himself as a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania." Transsexual is a planet, in case you were wondering, and Transylvania its galaxy. Frank is far out in more ways than one.
By this point, with B&J's minds effectively blown, the musical enters Frankenstein territory, as Dr. Frank-N-Furter moves the party upstairs to his pink-walled lab-or-atory, where he brings to life his latest lust-inspired creation—the blond, muscle-bound boy toy Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). The sequence is pure camp, borrowing the imagery of the 1931 Universal Horror film and oiling it up with gay iconography, from the pink triangle on Frank's scrubs to the rainbow that forms in Rocky's incubation tank. (Rocky, himself, with his gold briefs and straight-across-the-brow bangs, calls to mind the angelic character of Pygar from that earlier camp classic, Barbarella.) Brad and Janet—stripped to their underwear for no other reason besides the doctor's whims—are initially appalled at the hedonistic display, but they both end up hilariously falling for Frank's persuasive charms, their fears of sexual uninhibitedness alleviated by actual experience. (See Janet forcing Rocky to grope her breasts while singing "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.") The film's "Don't Dream It, Be It" motto might as well be "Don't Deny It, Try It."
Outside the more-comical-than-titillating free-love shenanigans, a loose, barely coherent plot does emerge—botched sex slave prototype Eddie (Meatloaf) is slain, Rocky escapes, and a UFO scientist (Jonathan Adams) shows up to investigate the Transylvanians—but it barely matters. The narrative thread really only serves to string together the unstoppably infectious sing-along songs, which run the musical gamut from the Frankie Avalon/Annette Funicello-style duet of "Dammit, Janet" and the rockabilly blast of Meatloaf's "Hot Patootie—Bless My Soul," to teary cabaret closer "I'm Going Home," and lead track "Science Fiction/Double Feature," which sounds a little like The Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning." Like Happy Days, Rocky Horror taps into that 1970s nostalgia for the '50s, but it filters all the lovely-dovey doo-wop and tenderness through a glam, proto-punk, Ziggy Stardust sonic—and visual—filter.
And, of course, the film's androgynous, Bowie-esque frontman is Tim Curry, who struts and purrs like the most self-confident burlesque queen ever, lasciviously biting his lower lip or turning his upper one into a defiant sneer. His Frank-N-Furter is the Willy Wonka of this chocolate pleasure factory, the mad scientist hell-bent on breaking the laws of man and nature. He's sexually aggressive, sure, but during the King Kong-inspired ending of the film we begin to see a softer side, as when he sings: "Whatever happened to Fay Wray / That delicate satin-draped frame? / As it clung to her thigh / How I started to cry / 'Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same." This desire to be someone else, to change your appearance—if only for a little while—gets at the heart of the film's transgenerational, cross-cultural appeal. "Don't Dream It, Be It" is the reason crowds still dress up as their favorite characters for raucous midnight showings some 35 years after Dr. Frank-N-Furter first sashayed across the screen, garters fastened, corset tightened, lips gleaming red.
Note: This Blu-ray release includes both the U.S. version of the film and the U.K. theatrical cut, which restores the "Superheroes" song at the end.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray, Video Quality
Rocky Horror fans will rejoice at Fox's stellar, all-new 2K/4K master, struck from the original camera negatives and given a satisfying 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer in the intended 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The film looks far better than I'd expected, and—best of all—Fox has delivered an image free of DNR, edge enhancement, or any other unnecessary digital tweaking. The print is quite clean—there are only a few white flecks throughout—and the grain structure is wholly intact, leaving a picture that's warm, rich, and naturally filmic. Clarity is much improved over the DVD release, making the fine lines of fishnets and sequined gloves stand out better than ever. The only exceptions to this newly refined look are the scenes with the "criminologist" narrator, which, for some reason, are noticeably—but never outright distractingly—soft. (If any of our readers are versed in the film's cinematography and have an answer to why this may be, please feel free to shoot me a PM.) In general, though, definition is outstanding—just look at the screenshot of Dr. Frank-N-Furter floating in the pool. (Of course, it looks exponentially better in motion.) You'll also notice that color throughout is equally strong, from Frank's luscious red lips and Riff Raff's magenta laser beams, to the blue stage curtains and the rainbow hues of Rocky's tank. Black levels are deep—without engendering crushed shadows—and contrast is right on the money. Finally, aside from slight noise during darker scenes, there are no real compression-related issues. Definitely worth the upgrade from the DVD!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Fox has gone well beyond the call of duty to give Rocky Horror a robust DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track—yes, 7.1—that straight up rock 'n' rolls. Are the two extra surround channels really necessary? Well, not entirely—especially considering the film was original presented in mono— but they're certainly appreciated, adding an extra dimension of immersion to the experience. You'll notice some occasional ambience—rain and thunderclaps in the rears, tolling bells, etc.—but the most engaging aspect of this track, as you'd expect, is the music. Put simply, it sounds fantastic. Not only is it loud and dynamically solid—with crunchy guitars, piercing horns, and the occasional spot of plaintive violin—but the masterfully arranged 7.1 presentation also allows each instrument to have its own space within the soundfield, all culminating in a heady, enveloping mix. The vocals during the songs stand out clearly as well, but there are a few instances when spoken dialogue seems somewhat low and—depending on your hearing ability—may require a slight bump in volume. Naturally, some of the audio elements haven't aged as well as others—there's some slight muffling during a few lines and Rocky's vocals, which were dubbed, have a particularly strange quality—but this is to be expected from a film now 35 years old.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Midnight Experience
Of course, the film by itself is only part of the Rocky Horror experience, so in order to give fans as close of an approximation as possible to the complete theatrical, midnight movie vibe—esoteric litany and all—Fox has loaded up this Blu-ray disc with numerous optional in-feature enhancements:
Trivia Track: Turn this option on for pop-up trivia about the film, it's cast, and creators. (Appears in the upper left corner of the screen.)
Vintage Callback Track (Unrated): Join the tradition of yelling lines back at the screen with the original 1983 Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Par-Tic-I-Pation track brought to you buy Fan Club president Sal Piro. (Basically, subtitles that tell you what to yell. Appears in the upper right.)
Prop Box: Worried about damaging your delicate plasma TV by throwing stuff at the screen during the film? This in-feature option has you covered. Toggle through available props using the left and right keys on your remote, and press "Enter" to throw them, virtually, at the screen. (Appears in the lower left.)
The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show: A live shadowcast performance with Rocky Horror Picture Show cast members from around the globe. More about this below. (Appears in the lower right.)
Note: You can turn on as many of the options at a time as you'd like.
The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast (1080i, 58:14)
This is like American Idol for deviants. For those not in the know, most theatrical showings of the film are accompanied by a "shadowcast" of audience participants acting out the story directly beneath the screen. For this Blu-ray edition of the film, Fox commissioned a special shadowcast, auditioning Rocky Horror fans from around the globe. In part one, Don't Dream It, Be It we get to watch the giddy hopefuls in the try-out process—meeting some definitely kooky characters along the way—and in part two, An-Tic-I-Pation, original cast member Barry Bostwick comes in to judge the audition tapes.
Rocky-Oke: Sing It! (1080p)
Karaoke-style lyrics appear on the screen, and for the hardcore, there's an option to turn off the actors' vocal tracks so you can belt out the songs yourself. Includes all 20 or so of the film's musical numbers.
Commentary with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn
O'Brien and Quinn, who play's Magenta, Riff Raff's housemaid sister, sit down for a congenial, laugh-filled track brimming with reminiscences. Obviously, this is a must-listen for fans. English, French, and German subtitles are available for the commentary.
Play with Alternate Black and White Opening (1080p)
Think of this as the Wizard of Oz opening. Everything is in black and white until 20 minutes in, when Brad and Janet "Time Warp."
Mick Rock (A Photographer) (1080i, 3:36)
On-set photographer Mick Rock talks about the process of documenting the shoot.
Mick Rock's Picture Show (1080p, 3:50)
A self-playing gallery of Mick's best shots.
A Few From the Vault
A metric ton of Rocky Horror detritus. Includes two deleted musical scenes (SD, 3:08), eleven alternate out-takes (SD, 10:02), an alternate credit ending (SD, 3:45), a misprint ending (SD, 1:44), retrospective documentary Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show (SD, 36:25), footage from the riotous Beacon Theater 10th Anniversary showing (SD, 5:26), the Time Warp Music Video from the 15th Anniversary VHS release (4:41), and two theatrical trailers (SD, 00:30 and 2:59). There's also a high definition, user-directed pressbook gallery—with an interface that allows you to actually read all of the material—and a self-playing poster gallery (1080p, 00:25).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I need say no more. If you're a Rocky Horror fan, this Blu-ray—with it's excellent audio/video presentation and generous array of extras—is an unmitigated must-own release. And for all you "virgins" out there, what are you waiting for? You owe it to yourself to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at least one—if only to say that you have. Highly recommended!
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Other Editions
The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Making The Rocky Horror Picture Show - October 25, 2011
20th Century Fox had no idea what a goldmine they had in securing the release. In fact, they didn't think it would make back its $1.2 million budget. From a small London production to a movie theater phenomenon, join us for the "Time Warp," the making of The Rocky ...
• Amazon Blu-ray Deal of the Week: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (E... - October 23, 2011
Amazon's Blu-ray Deal of the Week affects The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 35th Anniversary Edition. This cult horror/musical/science-fiction/melodrama features two versions of the film - the U.S. edit and the U.K. theatrical cut, with its restored "Superheroes" ...
• This Week on Blu-ray - October 19-25 - October 19, 2010
The original Predator is considered one of the best action films to come out during the 80's, and arguably one of the best Schwarzenegger films of all time. For the Predators reboot, the alien hunters have taken the humans away from their own planet, introducing ...
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