Monday, October 25, 2010

Dark Monday - Rocky Horror Picture Show

Columbia, Brad, Rocky & Janet
The Title Screen

With all talk for the last two weeks about the GLEE Rocky Horror episode playing tomorrow night, I thought it might be nice to talk about the original movie, a cult classic I remember going to see when I was in college in Reading, Pennsylvania, back in the prehistoric days... Rocky Horror was released in 1975, and was based on a campy stage production started in London. The show was put together by Richard O'Brien, who wrote the book and lyrics, with music by Richard Hartley. The play opened in 1973, and was considered quite the camp-fest. With the success of the stage production, the film was made, directed by Jim Sharman, who worked with O'Brien on the book.

Columbia, Magenta, Frank-N-Furter & Riff-Raff

While it wasn't initially greatly successful, the movie became the cult classic with midnight shows throughout the US. Soon people not only lined up to see the show, but they were showing up in costumes, and re-enacting the show in front of the audience. They brought props, which included toast to be tossed when the characters make a toast at dinner.

Brad & Janet

The movie is a natural for this type of treatment, for at its core, it is a movie about outsiders, those outcast from society, most of whom would have been mocked and bullied for being different. Be it the nerdy heroes, Brad and Janet, the bisexual transexual mad scientist, the ne'er-do-well rocker and his girlfriend, the party guests who range from little people to older folks, all with a different idea about fashion, they all play central roles in the story. The movie is an homage to the early sci-fi movies of the 50s and 60s, with more than a few twists. Check out the trailer.

Frank-N-Furter, Brad & Janet

The opening sequence for the movie is a great set of lips singing the theme song, Science Fiction/Double Feature, with constant mentions of the old movies to which the show pays homage.

Next we Brad and Janet attending a wedding, where Brad proclaims his feeling for Janet. Soon they are driving and the car has a flat. They go up to the closest house, since they notice a light on at the Frankenstein place, and go to make a call for help. They are greeted by Riff-Raff, the butler who, along with maid Magenta, seems to have boundary issues as Riff-Raff takes off the clothes of the guests to make them 'at home.' While waiting to make the phone call, nerdy Brad and Janet are brought to the party and get to learn a new dance, The Time Warp.

As Brad and Janet politely try to find their way out of the crazy party, they stumble upon and elevator as it descends. First we notice the tapping, almost stomping high heel as it comes down to rock music, and finally Dr. Frank-N-Furter announces his own arrival with the song Sweet Transvestite.

Next we are introduced to Dr. Frank-N-Furter's latest experiment, the creation of a perfect man. He introduces Rocky, with blond hair and a tan, as he explains that in just seven days, he could make you a man. Rocky is a gorgeous strapping young man in a gold lamé bikini, there for the enjoyment of his maker. Soon the party has another visitor, much to the delight of Columbia. Eddie drives his motorcycle out of the freezer and disrupts the party, much to the chagrin of the host. This is Hot Patootie/Bless My Soul.

Soon everyone retires for the night, and we learn Dr. Frank-N-Furter is somewhat insatiable. He visits both Brad and Janet, wanting to partake of his guests, and he does. This ignites a passion in virginal Janet, who then sets out to find Rocky, cause she wants more. They get a visit from the Dr. Scott, a wheelchair-bound teacher. Then things hike up to a new level, with hedonistic celebrations with all the characters in bustiers, stockings and feather boas, playing in pools, and thoughts of unbridled lust. This doesn't last, as Riff-Raff and Magenta want to return home, and are willing to shoot to do it.

Janet & Rocky
Columbia & Eddie

This roller-coaster ride was cast to perfection. Actor/Rocker Tim Curry was tapped to play Frank-N-Furter and did so with great bravura. A young Susan Sarandon played Janet, showing she has a voice, those incredible eyes, and a banging body. Barry Bostwick had appeared many times on the Broadway stage, and took the role of Brad to great level, playing the nerd and looking fantastic in his underwear. Put a boa on him, and the boy can dance, too! Creator Richard O'Brien took on the role of Riff-Raff, showing off his amazing voice and exotic looks to creep many people out. He went on to write many more shows. Patricia Quinn appeared in the BBC series I Claudius, as well as playing Magenta. Her iconic voice and perfect line delivery made her stand out. Little Nell Campbell was perfect as Columbia, tap dancing her way to perfection. Later, she was the owner and ran the club 'Nell's' in NYC. Eddie was the perfect role for Meat Loaf, the bombastic singer who tackled the song with ease. Peter Hinwood was gorgeous as Rocky, although he was the one actor whose singing was dubbed by a singer. Charles Gray played the villain in the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. His role as narrator was a great send up of a Masterpiece Theater type of show. Jonathan Adams played many roles on British television, but none might ever top the popularity of playing Dr. Everett von Scott. Together, this cast will remain icons to the fans of this cult classic.


  1. The very first DVD that I bought was the 25th anniversary edition of Rocky Horror Picture Show. I have the soundtrack on my iPod. And somewhere in the universe there may still exist a video tape of me in fishnets, garter, and corset lip synching to "Sweet Transvestite."

    Yeah I guess you can call me a regular Frankie fan.

  2. Behr, I remember standing in line in Reading, PA, to attend my first midnight show, so excited. Never went in costume, so no tapes like that exist. If you have your clip, I suggest you YouTube it soon!



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