In 1975, the Rocky Horror Picture Show burst out onto the silver screen. A musical
that flopped, but went to cult
The plot is sorta simple. Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, two regular American young kids from Denton on a night out, get engaged. They drive over to tell their good friend and teacher, but on the way their car breaks down. They walk through the rain to a nearby castle a few miles up the road, where they are invited into a creepy mansion. Inside is a mysterious doctor transvestite with wacky helpers. This poor ordinary couple gets drawn into a tale of jealousy and sex. Meanwhile, all this is narrated by a narrator, a dull man who looks like he has no neck. There's singing, dancing, and insanity. Just an awesome flick.
I don't want to give away the plot, but...ah, screw it. Skip this paragraph if you have no intention of seeing the movie. They come upon a Dr. Frank-n-Furter, a transvestite alien who came to this planet for unknown reasons. We guess it's for the sex, and the fact that he's making a frankenstein-like creature so he can have sex with it. He has two servants, Riff-Raff and Magenta, as well as his old girlfriend Columbia. Frozen in his lab is his old lover Eddie, whose missing half a brain, used to make the monster. After wooing both Brad and Janet and the monster, Frank-n-furter forces them all to take part in a floor show. In the end, his servants take control of the mission, kill the doctor, and beam the whole castle back to their planet in the galaxy of Transylvania.
The entire musical was written by Richard O'Brien, who also played Riff-Raff in the movie, as well as sang the opening song Science Fiction Double Feature. What makes it so great is that it parodies all the old Black and White sci-fi movies. It's campy but funny. The music is funny and catchy. Meatloaf is in it, how can it be bad?
When it was released, it was a box office flop. Ticket sales were dismal. There was a minority who thought it amazing, and just a great story, but the rest of the world just wasn't ready for it. It was given an R rating, which could easily get PG-13 by today's standards. Aside from the exotic outfits, men wearing heels and fishnet stockings, there is only one curse word. Any aficionado will be able to quote the movie, and where it appears.
Anyway, one day a kindergarden teacher from Staten Island did the unthinkable, he started yelling stuff at the characters on the screen. While in most other movies it's frowned upon, this movie sorta deserved it. Plus it was funny. He started showing up every week, and eventually other people in the audience joined in. Before long, there was an entire room with audience participation. As the cult started, people dressed as the characters and began performing it as the film rolled. Rice would be thrown during the weddding scene, water pistols would be squirted over people with newspapers over their head (during the scene where Brad and Janet walk through the rain), toast during the Dinnertime toast. Everyone, and I mean Everyone dances the Time Warp in the aisles. The rest is history.
Sal Piro, president of the RHPS Fan club, has set the Guinness World Record for most times seeing the same film in theaters.
For the past 25 years, it's been going strong. Usually a theater would have it as a midnight show on Friday or Saturday night. Today, it's still playing in over 100 theaters. Through the years, it's been really good for business, many theaters would have closed down when the times got hard, but the midnight show sold out in many places and kept theaters going.
Here's a list of the songs in the movie:
Science Fiction Double Feature
Over at the Frankenstein Place
Sword of Damocles
I Can Make you a Man
I Can Make you a Man (Reprise)
Rose Tint My World
I'm Going Home
Super Heroes (only in the UK and DVD version)
Science Fiction Double Feature (Reprise)
The Broadway musical version has Super Heroes as well as Once in a While, which never made it into the film.
Years later, the makers tried to release a sorta-sequel called Shock Treatment that never really caught on with the RHPS fans. Also, it came out as a Broadway play Rocky Horror Live! in Times Square that ran for over 2 years. It eventually closed, as tickets were pricey, and the same people kept going over and over. Very good, the songs were made with a little more rock. You can get the newer sounds on CD by the New Broadway cast, or look around Audiogalaxy for one or two tracks. There are also mp3s of the Time Warp in Spanish, which sound very cool.
Here's the DVD Review
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
In theaters 1975, released on DVD by Fox in 2000 for the 25th Anniversary. Directed by Jim Sharman "Don't Squeeze the Charmin!"
100 minutes (I think). Rated R
by today's standards. See above)
Special Features: It's a 2-disc set.
Disc 1 has the movie(Widescreen), Commentary by Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, aka Riff-Raff and Magenta, Participation prompter subtitle track (like "Throw the rice!"), a special Audience Participation sound track (rocks! you can hear every line shouted), Special "lips" where at certain parts of the movie you can see clips of people in a theater re-enacting the scene during the special 25th anniversary. A cool Easter Egg where you can see the beginning in black and white, like The Wizard of Oz (The closest thing to a director's cut). US and UK versions of the movie.
Disc 2 has interviews with the cast, karaoke versions of Sweet Transvestite and Toucha-toucha-touch-me. VH1 interviews of the cast, and a tour of the renovated castle today. A documentary of the whole cult/movie. Trailers, and a VH! Pop-up Video of Hot Patootie.
DVD-ROM on Disc 1. A Trivia game and some lame Mad Libs, with a Cast bio.
Worth the money? YES YES YES. For many reasons. First, the movie itself is great. Besides that, the special features rock. Excellent picture quality and Dolby 5.1 sound. The extra features are great, and you can really get a sense of why the theater experience must be so great. The Audience participation track is too funny to be missed with all the call-outs, though I don't know if it compares to the real thing.