For die-hard fans, the 40th Anniversary Blu-Ray edition of Richard O’Brien’ cult phenomenon, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a must have! In shiny new blu-ray format the shock n’ roll musical is brought back to life ready to thrill, chill and fulfill for generations to come! So put on your suspenders all you wild and untamed things and don’t just dream it, be it!
From its conception in 1973, The Rocky Horror Show (its counterpart stage musical) is rather timeless. With its positive message of embracing your true self, Rocky Horror holds a meaningful relevance that never ages. From what began as an experimental underground stage musical eventually found its way to mainstream culture which is embraced by all kinds of people from all walks of life.
When O’Brien initially penned the musical, the transvestism concept wasn’t at the forefront but became a prominent feature within the production more than he first envisioned. Whereas back in the 1970’s the subject was more of a taboo, today transvestism and individuality is celebrated. The reason that the Rocky Horror resonates in more mainstream culture nowadays is because as a society we are more accepting. Rocky Horror is a space where you can be yourself, dress as outrageous as you like and not have to be concerned with judgement. Rocky Horror is something special and a turning point for sub-cultures within the media. It’s absolutely weird and wonderful.
In 1975 O’Brien and director Jim Sharman adapted the show to the big screen in the big-red lipped beloved movie! The majority of the original cast transitioned to the film version, including the exceptional Tim Curry in his unforgettable and iconic performance as Dr. Frank N Furter, a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania. Richard O’Brien took on the roll of put-upon henchman Riff Raff while Patricia Quinn reprised her role as Magenta, the castle’s maid. Quinn famously agreed to the stage role purely based on the opening number “Science Fiction/Double Feature”, however in the film the usherette characters (also known as Trixie in some versions) is replaced by Quinn’s lips while O’Brien sings the bizarrely eerie number as a love letter to the B movies from the 1930s-70s.
Australian Actress Little Nell also transferred from the stage version playing Columbia, the sequin-clad, tap dancing, original Frankie Fan! Hollywood star Susan Sarandon made her acting debut as Janet Weiss, an innocent, small town girl who eventually becomes corrupted by sex and rock n roll! Sarandon’s varied and successful career all started with corsets and suspenders, which is pretty awesome! Barry Bostwick is her straight-laced fiance Brad Majors, who is equally taken to the dark side by Frank and his wonderfully weird inhabitants at the Frankenstien place. Rock star Meat Loaf had a small role as rebel biker Eddie, performing the exceptionally catchy 50s-infused “Hot Patootie”.
Finally, an unknown actor Peter Hinwood took the part of Frank’s creation, the muscle man, based on old Steve Reeve’s movies; Rocky Horror who doesn’t behave quite like Frank had planned, leading to sinister and strange consequences. Hinwood didn’t continue acting following the film and allegedly became an antiques dealer. ?Also keep your eyes peeled for a cameo from Christopher Biggings as one of the Transylvanians!
As much as I love horror films, I completely adore musicals, Rocky Horror is unsurprisingly my favourite as it caters to all my tastes! I came across the film to begin with during my early teens and it has become one of my favourite films of all time! It’s a film that you never tire of and has repeated watch-ability. From the camp performances to the songs to the gothic sets (Rocky Horror shares a connection with Hammer Films, as it was shot in Oakley Castle, the same location as Christopher Lee’s Dracula), Rocky Horror has everything!
The special effects may seem dated to a modern audience however that’s all part of its charm. I’ve been lucky to experience the Stage version live back in 2010 at Venue Cymru (going again in February, so look out for a review from the Liverpool Empire!); a live broadcast of the recent stage version from National Theatre Live and I also attended a cult screening of the film at the Abertoir Horror Festival in 2012, playing to a packed theatre. Rocky Horror has a sense of community about it and any screening of it guarantees plenty of fun!
There’s nothing more liberating than jumping out of your seat to dance along with the time warp! The audience participation really makes for a thrilling interactive experience! For me, the sentiment of Don’t Dream it be it is the reason Rocky Horror has been a staple in my life all these years. It teaches that is okay to be yourself no matter how different you seem to the norm. Rocky Horror makes being weird cool! These sentiments are echoed by fans from all over the world.
The Blu-Ray edition of the film is magical! They’ve gone all out to please us with a selection of special features and have even included both UK and US versions of the film; with the US version cutting out the majority of the “Superheroes” sequence (I much prefer the UK version as feel the scene is pivotal to close the Brad & Janet arc, plus there’s an otherworldliness about it). There’s an option to view the film’s opening in glorious black and white. In a homage to The Wizard of Oz; the film switches to wondrous technicolour the moment when Magenta and Riff Raff burst through the doors to reveal the time warping Transylvanians. The only downside is the opening number “Science Fiction/Double Feature” isn’t as effective without the iconic red lips. However it works well to signify Brad and Janet’s lives aren’t so black and white anymore and are about to be turned upside down!
Along with deleted scenes, music videos, photo galleries, and a commentary from Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn; the highlight of the DVD has to be the Shadow Cast auditions that took place in aid of the 35th anniversary edition blu ray. Barry Bostwick faces the task of choosing a handful of enthusiastic Rocky fans to re-create the famous film on stage. With participants from all over the world from the UK, US & Berlin, it really shows the community spirit and sense of diversity which Rocky Horror is all about, which is really lovely. O’Brien and his cast never envisioned the legacy they would create from their little strange film from the 1970s and it’s without a doubt the fandom and community that keeps it going is truly amazing.
It was great when it all began…as Columbia sang at the Floor Show but it’s even better now! We’ll keep doing the Time Warp, again and again and again!