#97 The Rocky Horror Picture Show
(1975, Jim Sharman)
“It’s boil-in-the-bag perversion for sexually repressed accountants”
The quote above is not from the movie as usual, it’s from the sitcom Spaced, penned by Simon Pegg and Jessica Stevenson. It’s said in relation to “The Time Warp”, so I feel it’s appropriate. Why quote that and not the movie? Because quoting the movie would be giving it some kind of positive acknowledgement, and I’m afraid I can’t do that, Dave.
Rocky Horror is a cult classic musical, supposedly an affectionate parody and homage to old sci-fi b-movies, with a whole load of added perversion thrown in, the tale of a young couple (here played by Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick) getting lost in the woods, encountering a castle and stumbling upon a creepy perverted party held by Dr Frank-N-Furter from Transsexual, Transylvania, played by Tim Curry. It’s a huge cult success, continuously selling out midnight screenings and inviting tons of quotes, cosplaying and audience participation.
And yet all this success baffles me, because Rocky Horror has nothing of any redeemable worth about it. It’s an awful, terrible movie with no saving graces. This is worse than Videodrome. Yes, I went there. Videodrome is no longer the worst film I have seen via this blog. At least with Cronenberg’s movie, I acknowledged the effects were pretty decent, even if nothing else was. I have no such comments for this “movie”.
First of all, it can’t decide what the hell it wants to be. Is it a parody of b-movies from the 50s, or is it the crudest musical ever made? Well, it fails at the first because b-movies never had this much annoying singing, and aside from that it’s about as entertaining a parody as the works of Friedberg & Seltzer. It’s also not a very good musical, in the sense that the songs are just dire, and all largely fade into the same screeching mess. Also, I’m sure better musicals never have this much constant singing. Even Julie Andrews stopped singing once in a while.
I’ve researched why people like this movie. I’ve tried to understand. And the thing that comes up the most is that you need to be a fan of old b-movies to appreciate this movie. This is a lie. I love cheesy b-movies, and yet I hated this movie with a passion. If you want to see a genuinely affectionate homage to those kinds of movies, seek out Tim Burton’s Ed Wood instead. Rocky Horror has an ironic, almost sneering attitude towards its source material, whereas other works based around the same source material seem a lot more respectful, and respect for the source material makes for better parody in my opinion.
It also revels in its own love of sexuality. And it’s not even a fun kind of sexuality, with some scenes bordering on rape. I felt uncomfortable by much of this movie, and I am not a prude by any means. Hell, my glowing review for Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert shows I’m not even put off by transvestism if it’s played well. But this was just disgusting.
The characters were either bland or downright awful. The acting was over-the-top in a way that was just plain irritating. The songs are terrible, especially that staple of awful wedding discos, the “Time Warp”. And while much of its technical issues are likely deliberate, I would much rather be watching a Hammer Horror or the works of Roger Corman, ie. the source material. Even Meat Loaf’s appearance sounds awful. That man has a crazily powerful voice, so why does it sound so weedy here? It should be impossible to make him sound underwhelming, and yet somehow the movie manages it. Ultimately, the movie is ninety minutes, so it’s not particularly long, but I was impatient for it to end. My notes for this review even state “why is there half an hour left?!”
I’ve reviewed a better movie with transvestites in it. It was called Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert. I’ve reviewed a better musical in the form of Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory. And, as already stated, if you want a more suitable homage to the same source material, check out Ed Wood, which is criminally not on the list while this mess is.
This film is enduring proof that just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good. This movie should have been forgotten, and yet it still continues to sell out. This movie is crass, unintelligent, sneering and totally beyond merit. Avoid.
Starring Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick & Richard O’Brien
Written by Jim Sharman & Richard O’Brien
Produced by Michael White
Music by Richard O’Brien & Richard Hartley
Cinematography by Peter Suschitzky
Edited by Graeme Clifford
Favourite Scene: The end credits. On mute.
Scene That Bugged Me: Everything, but particularly the scenes where Tim Curry attempts to do anything sexual with anybody else. I guess mass forced mind control rape is considered OK to the audience of this movie
Watch it if: You want to torture yourself
Avoid it if: You have any respect for yourself as a human being, you do not need to see this movie