DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 35th Anniversary, Blu-ray (1975/2010)

In the theaters at midnight, it’s a unique social phenomenon that must be seen to be believed.

Published on October 24, 2010

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 35th Anniversary, Blu-ray (1975/2010)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 35th Anniversary, Blu-ray (1975/2010)

Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Meatloaf
Screenplay: Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman
Director: Jim Sharman
Studio: 20th Century Fox [10/19/10]
Video: 1.66:1 for 16:9 1080p HD color & B&W
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, English mono orig. track
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: Both U.S. & U.K versions of feature, “The Midnight Experience, The Late Night, Double Feature, PIP Show;” Vintage callback track, Prop Box, Trivia track; BD-Live Live Lookup; “The Search for the 35th Ann. Shadowcast: Don’t Dream It, Be It (Part 1), An-tic-i-pation (Part 2);" Mick Rock (a photographer); Mick Rock’s Picture Show Gallery; Pressbook and poster gallery; audio commentary by Richard O’Brien & Patricia Quinn; Deleted musical scenes and outtakes; Alternate B&W opening; Alternate credit ending and misprint ending; “Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show;” Beacon Theater – NYC; “Time Warp” music video; more!
Length: 100 minutes
Rating: ****(*)

If you have never seen this cult film, shown in hundreds of theaters around the world at midnight showings, with rabid fans costumed as characters in the film doing a “shadowcast” performance under the screen, where have been?  It’s a unique social phenomenon that must be seen to be believed. In fact, as fantastic as this Blu-ray restored version is (mastered from the original camera negatives), and with a decadent number of bonus feature extras, a note in the package from the president of the Rocky Horror Fan Club says that even after seeing this Blu-ray you will still be a Rocky Horror virgin if you haven’t been to an actual theater to see the film with an audience of believers. I’ve been there and he’s right.

Producer Lou Adler (who also did the Mammas and Pappas and many other music groups) says in the extras that when they first showed the new feature to a test audience half of them walked out in the middle. Chances are you, dear reader, might be part of either audience half.  It probably has to do with age, though there are a couple seniors still taking part in one of the costumed Shadowcast auditions in Paris, as well as a middle-aged guy saying these shows have been his whole life for nearly his whole life. One said it was his fulltime job, though I haven’t a notion where the income comes from.

The black & white opening section deals with Brad and Janet, who have gone to visit a professor acquaintance, have a flat in the rain, and end up entering Dr. Frank N. Furter’s (Tim Curry) castle (woo-woo), whence everything goes to color. Transvestite Furter and all the inhabitants of his castle are aliens from the Transylvania planet. The big party they’re having is to celebrate the Dr.’s success at creating a muscled Charles Atlas-type human being from scratch.  Sure you want to hear the rest of this? Interesting that the one word studio execs tried to censor from Hitchcock’s Psycho was the word transvestite, and then 15 years later we have Tim Curry in outrageous drag…

By the way, this is a musical, and it shows the Aussie Baz Lurhmann isn’t the only director of over-the-top musicals.  Every inch of what’s onscreen and every note of the soundtrack is a super-campy trip. It crudely parodies horror movies, sci-fi movies, rock n’ roll, musicals, dances, sexy movie scenes, you name it.  It’s twisted, bizarre, juvenile, and the typical rational adult will probably only continue watching it to the end to learn whether it’s going to get even worse. I wish I knew what the differences might be between the U.S. and British versions of the film, but I’m not about to screen it again just to find out. Would also be curious to know why they keep singing about a double feature; there’s no double feature.

Ah, but then after the aliens and the castle have rocketed off back to their Transylvania planet, you just have to have a look at the many decadent extras – especially on the selection of those participants who were to be included in the two-part Shadowcast extras.  You will not believe the work and dedication these people have put into dressing up and acting like the characters in Rocky Horror while the original film is shown.  One guy – who plays the rock musician on a motorcycle acted by Meatloaf in the original film – reports that he spent four years on just his leather jacket and its ornamentation. The big attraction for most of the RHPSs seems to be running around in their underwear – garter belts, hose and high heels are very big with many of them – male and female. It is interesting how many of the “auditioners” for the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter were women, with all the impossible makeup and outfits. The Berlin contingent talk about the difficulties doing believable imitations of the film’s characters, as well as difficulties with learning all their lines in English.

— John Sunier

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