Revisited: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A criminologist narrates the tale of the newly engaged couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy late November evening. Seeking a telephone, the couple walk to a nearby castle where they discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a self-proclaimed “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”. The ensemble of convention attendees also includes servants Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia.

In his lab, Frank claims to have discovered the “secret to life itself”. His creation, Rocky, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie, (an ex-delivery boy, both Frank and Columbia’s ex-lover, as well as partial brain donor to Rocky) who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. In a jealous rage, Frank corners him and kills him with an ice axe. He then departs with Rocky to a bridal suite.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms where each is visited and seduced by Frank, who poses as Brad (when visiting Janet) and then as Janet (when visiting Brad). Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, whom she discovers, via a television monitor, is in bed with Frank. She then discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While tending to his wounds, Janet becomes intimate with Rocky, as Magenta and Columbia watch from their bedroom monitor.

After discovering that his creation is missing, Frank returns to the lab with Brad and Riff Raff, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Brad and Janet’s old high school science teacher, Dr. Everett Scott, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie. Frank suspects that Dr. Scott investigates UFOs for the government. Upon learning of Brad and Janet’s connection to Dr. Scott, Frank suspects them of working for him. Frank, Dr. Scott, Brad, and Riff Raff then discover Janet and Rocky together under the sheets in Rocky’s birth tank, upsetting Frank and Brad. Magenta interrupts the reunion by sounding a massive gong and stating that dinner is prepared.

Rocky and the guests share an uncomfortable dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie’s mutilated remains. Janet runs screaming into Rocky’s arms and is slapped and chased through the halls of the castle by a jealous Frank. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank’s lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, transforming them into statues. They are then forced to perform a live cabaret floor show with Frank as the leader.

Riff Raff and Magenta interrupt the performance, revealing themselves and Frank to be aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. They stage a coup and announce a plan to return to their home world. In the process, they kill Columbia, Rocky, and Frank, who has “failed his mission.” They release Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott, then depart by lifting off in the castle itself. The survivors are then left crawling in the dirt, and the narrator concludes that the human race is equivalent to insects crawling on the planet’s surface.

REVIEW:

Every Halloween, it seems there are countless parties, screenings, and what have you for The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have never really gotten into that whole thing. Maybe it’s because I don’t gain any pleasure from walking around in goth make-up and dressed in drag. Still, as a fan of musicals, I feel I should have a deeper appreciation for this film…or should I?

What is this about?

This notorious horror parody and cult hit — a fast-paced potpourri of camp, sci-fi and rock ‘n’ roll, among other things — tracks the exploits of naïve couple Brad and Janet after they stumble upon the lair of transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

What did I like?

Centralized. Since this is based on a stage play of the same name, I can appreciate the care and effort it took to not go over the top with exotic locations and special effects. Everything is pretty much in the same 2 or 3 rooms, as it would be on stage, with the exception of the criminologist and the wedding stuff at the beginning. The simplicity was a nice touch.

Curry. If I’m not mistaken, this is the role that made Tim Curry a household name and it isn’t very hard to see why. He pulls out all the stops as the “Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania”, to quote a song title. The first time I saw this, I actually thought he was a transsexual because he sold the character and mannerisms so well. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one that thought this, right?

Music. At one time, I thought the music in the film to be subpar. I still think that, but I have come to realize that this film has more than just a couple of great songs. There are about 4 that will stick in your head, which is the average for musicals. There tend to be the songs that stick with you and then those that just aren’t that great. The trick it not have so many of the latter. This film doesn’t accomplish that as well as I would like, but it makes up for it with the songs that do stick with you.

What didn’t I like?

Acting. I think we all have our expectations of what to see on film and one of those things is not pedestrian acting. Tim Curry aside, I think I have seen better acting from the likes of Megan Fox and January Jones! There is no feeling to these performances, no life. I wasn’t expecting Shakespearean level of acting, obviously, but show some effort, people!

Speaking of time warp. One of the most popular songs to come out of this film is “The Time Warp”. Strangely enough, I think that was foreshadowing all the jumps and skips that happen in this film’s plot. One minute the story is moving along nicely and the next we’re watching something totally different with no idea of how or why the scene changed. It is very annoying, if you ask me.

Mission. In the last act, we learn that Frank N. Furter is here on a mission, but I don’t believe it is ever mention what said mission is, only that he failed and must be destroyed. For all the plot holes and whatnot in this film, this one seems to bother me the most because it seems as if that was an actual story waiting to be told, but never came to fruition, leaving the audience to wonder and speculate.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has endured as one of the biggest cult musicals. Honestly, I still don’t get what is so special about this film. Other than Tim Curry and a young (and even hotter) Susan Sarandon, there really is nothing that stands out in the film, except maybe a few songs. Hardly enough to get worked up into a frenzy about, if you ask  me. So, do I recommend this? I suppose. You don’t want to be the oddball that hasn’t seen this while everyone else is quoting lines, singing the songs, etc.

3 out of 5 stars

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