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December 08, 2007


The Rocky Horror Picture Show Review, 1975 Photo Gallery, Cast, and Credits
The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975 was based on an English stage musical by Richard O'Brien. It has become known as THE textbook example of a "cult film." It was a cheaply made film that flopped in the initial regular theatrical release, but soon became a staple film for midnight matinees for at least 20 years, with many of the same people seeing the film hundreds of times apiece.

The Rocky Horror audience became more noted than the film, with audience members dressing as characters from the film and bringing props - throwing rice at the screen during a wedding scene and such. In some precincts, there sprung up whole troops of locals to mime out the action in front of the screen as the movie played. Starring a bisexual transvestite mad scientist from outer space and then audience participation, the movie understandably became known as gay camp.

But that really doesn't give just credit to what is really a fine movie on fairly many levels. The first point there is that calling the movie "camp" doesn't nearly cover what's in the film emotionally or what the dedicated hardcore took from it. "Camp" is defined as "something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized."

Rocky Horror is absolutely not artless, nor is it only an abstract "amusement." This movie really and truly means a lot emotionally to a large core audience, well beyond being a cute joke. It's constructed basically as a parody of cheap monster movies of old, invoking among others King Kong and The Invisible Man in the opening song. But O'Brien was using those things as a sideways entry point to get at more personal and direct feelings of alienation and sexual confusion, among other things. That's why so many people would go to see the movie hundreds of times, and memorize big chunks of script and so forth. A mere joke would not have been that big for that long.

The cheapness of the production absolutely worked in the movie's favor. This was somewhat making a virtue of necessity, of course, but a big virtue it was. For one thing, it was a parody of cheap sci fi films, and big budgets don't really help there. Note the flopsweat of Tim Burton's big budget Jack Nicholson Mars Attacks movie.

Also though, O'Brien and company used those limitations to tap into what might be described as an animating punk rock spirit. For all the knowing cleverness of the story, they captured on film a substantial amount of true and raw emotion that a big budget musical like Grease never could have.

The most lasting aspect of Rocky Horror is the music. Take away the video images, and just listen to the soundtrack album. Nearly every single song is exceptional and memorable. My interest in the movie was based first on several years of hearing the songs on the Dr Demento radio show. There's a lot of art and also emotion to even just the opening credits song "Science Fiction/Double Feature."

Meatloaf playing saxophone in The Rocky Horror Picture ShowPunk rock, just budding as a musical movement at the time, would be a useful framework for understanding specifically the music. Now, the songs don't sound like the Ramones. O'Brien was purposely writing in something like 1950s styles, as per the time frame of a lot of the old movies he had in mind writing the story. Meatloaf in particular strikes a beautiful note as a motorcycle riding juvenile delinquent, singing a distinctly nostalgic song asking "whatever happened to Saturday night?" and blowing a good old-fashioned rock and roll saxophone solo.

But then punk rock was originally something of a rock and roll Pentecostal movement, re-claiming the old spirit and stripping down the music to simpler and more emotionally immediate form. In truth, the Sex Pistols were basically just playing aggravated Chuck Berry riffs. The DIY spirit of the budding punk rock movement animates the whole movie, and certainly the later audience participation rituals.

You could also think of the audience participation as getting into being a kind of religious ritual, a kind of mass and communion. The movie plays very consciously and heavily on religious imagery, setting Tim Curry's Dr Frank N Furter up as some kind of freaky Christ character. Most particularly, they very consciously set up a "last supper" scene, making a point of showing the famous painting of Jesus and the apostles.

Tim Curry preparing to murder his gay lover in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 imageIn retrospect a couple of decades later, that's an aspect of mystery that I've never quite understood. Frank N Furter is set up as Christ, but certainly not as a perfect savior. Christ said, "Take, eat, this is my body" as he served bread symbolically. Whereas the transubstantiation in Rocky Horror would have been for Frank N Furter to say something like, "Take, eat, this is the body of my gay lover whom I killed in a jealous rage." And then serving an actual human body. He explains the murder to his creation/son/boyfriend (note the incest theme) Rocky Horror as a "mercy killing." But that doesn't even vaguely jibe with what had just happened on the screen. I still don't know quite what O'Brien intended by all this. Note also that he cast himself in the Judas role.

However you want to take it, The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a lot going for it. Those who vaguely remember seeing the show good and stoned with some pals for a laugh might likely be surprised at how good it really is watching it now privately on a DVD.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show at MoreThings

'Hot Patootie' mercy killing images, page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

young Susan Sarandon is a damsel in distress with nice tits in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 image

Richard O'Brien, Tim Curry and Patricia Quinn in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1975 image

Tim Curry and Peter Hinwood as the mad scientist from outer space and his creation Rocky Horror, 1975 image

Here are cast and credits from TV Guide:
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Rocky Horror TV schedule
Rocky Horror Message Board


Tim Curry: Dr. Frank N. Furter
Susan Sarandon: Janet Weiss
Barry Bostwick: Brad Majors
Richard O'Brien: Riff Raff
Jonathan Adams: Dr. Everett Scott
Nell Campbell: Columbia
Peter Hinwood: Rocky Horror
Patricia Quinn: Magenta
Meat Loaf: Eddie
Charles Gray: Criminologist
Jeremy Newson: Ralph Hapschatt
Hilary Labow: Betty Munroe
Frank Lester: Wedding Dad
Mark Johnson: Wedding Guest
Koo Stark: Bridesmaid
Petra Leah: Bridesmaid
Gina Barrie: Bridesmaid
John Marquand: Father

Jim Sharman: Director
Richard O'Brien: Writer - based on the stage musical by O'Brien
Jim Sharman: Writer
Richard O'Brien: Source
Michael White: Producer
John Goldstone: Producer
Lou Adler: Exec. Producer
John Goldstone: Assoc. Producer
Peter Suschitzky: Cinematographer - Eastmancolor
Graeme Clifford: Editor
Richard O'Brien: Musical Composer
Brian Thomson: Production Designer
Terry Ackland Snow: Art Director
Sue Blane: Costumes
Gillian Dods: Costumes
Richard Pointing: Costumes
Wally Veevers: Special Effects
Richard Hartley: Music Director
David Toguri: Choreography

posted by Al at 12/08/2007 09:11:00 AM

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