Sunday, August 16, 2009

It Makes Sense at Midnight. A Review of The Rocky Horror Picture Show




THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW

I came into The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a complete innocent. I'd only heard about the film and its cult, but had never actually experienced either. Now that I've been "Horror-fied", I can't say I was overwhelmed by my first time.

The plot (of what can be called a plot) involves a "Criminologist" (Charles Grey) telling us the tale of Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), two innocent kids who find themselves in the lunatic and decadent world of, well, freakish aliens from "Transsexual Transylvania". At the head of this merry group of hedonists is Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) , though I've also seen it as Frank-N-Furter. He (who proclaims himself a Sweet Transvestite) has created his perfect man, Rocky (Peter Hinwood). In the course of the film, the mad doctor seduces Janet AND Brad, traps the alien-hunting Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams), and gets them to join in the oddest cabaret show. However, the wanton immorality of Furter's world cannot be, and there's a rather sad ending to all the camp wildness.


I figure that the whole thing is meant to be a spoof of horror films, musicals, and films in general. It is good to know that everyone participating was in on the joke. Can't say that I was. The movie has its own logic which I couldn't get. What happened to Frank N. Furter's court once the squares were (I figure) deflowered? How do you celebrate cannibalism? As stated earlier, the ending was rather sad, given how crazy most of the film had been. Also, it didn't resolve anything: Janet, Brad, and Dr. Scott ended up in the middle of nowhere. There was no real point to their journey, and thus, no real conclusion.

That isn't to say there aren't good things in it. Tim Curry delivers a star-making performance as the demented Doctor, abandoning himself with outrageous glee to the role. He goes all in and creates a memorable performance, one that stands out for the sheer madness of the character. Also, the songs were great. Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul (sung by Meat Loaf) was great fun, as were Sweet Transvestite and the signature song, Time Warp. In fact, I would make a case that Time Warp should have been one of the 100 Greatest Film Songs in the AFI list because it's so memorable and the best known from the film.

Still, The Rocky Horror Picture Show isn't a film per se. It is an experience, and it's understandable why it has a cult following complete with people in costumes and props. As a movie itself, it doesn't quite work.

I will end with this. Every time I hear Susan Sarandon talk about something serious like the Iraq Intervention or HIV-infected Haitians, I won't be able to take her seriously because I'll picture her singing Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me while seducing Rocky. If interested, these are some thoughts on the cult of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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