Rocky Horror Picture Show
One of the big buzzwords today is ‘interactive’. Thirty-five years ago, before the advent of the personal computer, interactive film began with a small budget film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show.it is best known for how audiences actively talk back to the screen shouting lines and using props that have become as standard as the real dialogue. In fact there are even accepted variations adopted in specific locations. 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 this film has endured as on their own merits as rock classics. The main reason this film has not only endured all these many years is it burst on the scene just as the midnight movie movement started to take hold. In the seventies many movie theaters had serve problems keeping their bottom line in the black. An odd solution presented itself that a small number of theater owners embraced. They started to show little films far from the mainstream in special midnight showings. These films were frequently more extreme in content, particularly sex and violence than any Hollywood movie would dare to go. Soon college students began to flock to these showings creating underground hits. A symbiotic relationship was formed between the audiences, owners and film makers as a new profitable market began to emerge, one of the most successful is ‘The Rocky Picture Horror Show’. It is still running in theaters three and a half decades after its initial release. I cannot think of any other movie that can hold to that claim. This was an attempt for a studio to jump on the mostly independently drive midnight movie distribution and for once they got it right. This movie has been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". At the 25th anniversary mark a special two disc DVD was released as the definitive viewing option but now, ten years later, the film has found its way to Blu-ray and time meant nothing, never would again.
The story follows one night in the lives of newly engaged Janet and Brad (Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick). After leaving the wedding of their friends in Denton the couple sets out to visit their old friend and former mentor, Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams). 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 this film has endured as on their own merits as rock classics. 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 the 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 this freewheeling film. 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 this film along at a rapid pace.
As good as the DVD rendition was it is a pale shadow to this high definition treatment. The video and audio has been given a re-mastering worthy of the unique place this film holds in the annals of cinematic history. First and foremost the look of this movie is even more vibrant than ever. The colorful costumes and sets pop with a vibrant pallet that will take you back to the first time you watched this movie. It comes across so realistically you might just find yourself repeating the audience responses and tossing rolls of Scot toilet paper at the screen. You can spot a few of the legendary eggs placed around the sets during the Easter filming of the movie. The video is so detailed it is now capable of seeing the lines of mascara and gloss of the lipstick as if the characters are there in your living room with you. The audio is exceptional. For this edition the sound stage is presented in wonderfully rich: DTS-HD MA 7.1that will literally pull you into the movie. There is also the original mono soundtrack that can be reprocessed on modern home theater receivers to emulate the acoustics of a lived theatrical performance.
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.
The Midnight Experience
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