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The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 British musical comedy film that parodies science fiction and B-movie Horror films. Still in limited release 34 years after its premiere, it has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It gained notoriety as a midnight movie in 1977 when audiences began participating with the film in theaters across the United States. "Rocky Horror" is the first movie from a major film studio, such as 20th Century Fox, to be in the midnight movie market. Widely known by mainstream audiences, it has a large international following and is one of the most well known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congressmarker as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The film, considered a cult classic, is an adaptation of the Britishmarker musical stage production The Rocky Horror Show. Richard O'Brien, author of the stage show, was assisted by Jim Sharman in writing the screenplay. The movie introduces Tim Curry and features Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Kings Roadmarker production of the play first performed in the Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court Theatremarker in 1973.

Plot

Tim Curry as Frank N.
Furter
The story is narrated by a criminologist who, reading from a leather bound report titled, "The Denton Affair", tells the tale of newly engaged couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a rainy, late November evening. Seeking a phone with which to call for help, the two ring the doorbell of a nearby castle. They are invited inside by Riff Raff, a hunchback servant, along with his sister Magenta. Inside Brad and Janet discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They watch, still wet from the rain, as the Transylvanians, servants and a tap dancing groupie named Columbia, dance the "Time Warp", the film's signature song.

They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a bizarre and self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" and an ensemble of convention attendees.

Frank claims to have discovered the "secret to life itself" and in a scene inspired by the classic Frankenstein movies, his creation Rocky Horror is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted. Eddie, an ex-delivery boy and partial brain donor to Rocky, rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle performing "Hot Patootie". In a jealous rage, Frank corners and slaughters him with an ice axe, consoling a frightened Rocky Horror by telling him the murder was a "mercy killing."

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms, where each is visited and seduced in turn by Frank, posing as the opposite. Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, and is shocked to see him on a television monitor with Frank. She then discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff-Raff who has been tormenting him. While aiding Rocky Horror, Janet decides to seduce him, while Magenta and Columbia view from their bedroom monitor. After discovering his creature is missing, Frank, Brad and Riff-Raff return to the lab, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie. Frank suspects Dr. Scott of working for the government investigating UFOs.

Rocky and the guests are served dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's ghoulish remains. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms, and is chased through the halls of the castle by Frank with the rest following behind. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, a machine which transforms them into living statues, and then forces them to perform in a cabaret-style floor show. The performance is interrupted by the appearance of Riff-Raff and Magenta, who stage a coup and announce their plan to return to the planet Transsexual. After explaining to Frank that he is not going back with them, they use a laser to kill him, and in the process also kill Columbia and Rocky. They release the remaining earthlings — Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott — warning them to leave; after they do so, the entire castle takes off into space to return to the planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.

Cast

  • Tim Curry as Dr. Frank-N-Furter: A scientist. Frank is a devious and flamboyant, Hedonist Sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylvannia, pansexual scientist.
  • Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss: A heroine. Sweet and somewhat naïve. Janet, recently engaged to Brad, succumbs to temptation.
  • Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors: A hero. The clean-cut fiancé of Janet Weiss. Awkward and out of step, he finds himself in situations never before experienced.
  • Richard O'Brien as Riff-Raff: A handyman. Frank's minion and Magenta's brother.
  • Patricia Quinn as Magenta: Riff-Raff's sister and Frank's domestic.
  • Nell Campbell (credited as Little Nell) as Columbia: The groupie, friend and self proclaimed lover of Frank, but also formerly involved with Eddie.
  • Jonathan Adams as Dr. Everett Scott: A rival scientist. He was Brad and Janet's high school science teacher. He has come to the castle in search of his nephew Eddie, who has been murdered by Frank.
  • Peter Hinwood as Rocky Horror: A creation of Frank's, with blond hair and a tan, Rocky is mute except for his musical numbers.
  • Charles Gray as The Criminologist: An expert. The film's narrator.
  • Meat Loaf (credited as Meatloaf) as Eddie: An ex-delivery boy and Columbia's former boyfriend, he was a partial brain donor for Rocky.


Production

The original American productions of the stage musical were both produced by Lou Adler who is best known for his Cheech and Chong feature films. Adler brought the production to the US in 1974 and later became executive producer of the film version.

Many of the original cast and crew-members from the stage production returned to work on the film. Director Jim Sharman, production designer Brian Thomson, and costume designer Sue Blane collaborated on the original London production with many of the cast that made it into the film version. Tim Curry reprised his role from the London and Los Angeles stage productions. After the film, Curry also did a short run on Broadway as Dr. Frank N. Furter. Creator Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff) also returned for the film from the British stage team, as did Little Nell (Columbia) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta). Jonathan Adams, the narrator from the original cast, also returned for the film, instead playing Dr. Scott. The film was shot at Bray Studios and Oakley Courtmarker, a country house in Berkshire, England, UK from 21 October 1974 to 19 December 1974. Filming of Rocky's birth occurred on 30 October 1974, the 81st anniversary of the birth of Charles Atlas.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is slightly different from its original theatrical production. In the film, many of the original aspects from the stage show changed, as did characters and dialogue. All of the title character's lines were cut, making Rocky a mute who only sings during musical numbers. Eddie pops out of a Coca-Cola machine on stage, but rides out of a deep freeze in the film. Scenes were added for continuity and characters only mentioned in the musical were now in the opening scene.

Several ideas from the original conception of the film were dropped before production. During the opening theme, the film was supposed to include clips from all the movies mentioned in the song "Science-Fiction Double Feature". Producers discovered quickly that obtaining the rights to all the various film clips would be very costly, and cut the idea. Another idea was to parallel The Wizard of Oz (1939) by having the first 20 minutes of the film in black and white and Academy ratio until the doors burst open showing the Transylvanians in widescreen and then to full color at Frank's entrance. This effect would have been prohibitively expensive, so the idea was discarded. The film was, however, shot in the narrower 1.66:1 aspect ratio. On the 25th anniversary DVD, there is an easter egg that allows the viewer to see the original black-and-white idea, with the color coming in when the doors open to the Transylvanians.

Locations, sets and props

Oakley Court has been refurbished and is now a luxury hotel.
The film's plot, setting, and style echoes that of the Hammer Horror films, which had their own instantly recognisable style (just as Universal Studios' horror films did), re-using sets and props through many of their films. Production designer Brian Thomson and director Jim Sharman chose locations, sets, and even props for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" that were, in many cases, used in Hammer productions. The classic "Creation" scene in Rocky Horror is so reminiscent of "Frankenstein" movies because it uses the tank and dummy from a Hammer production of The Revenge of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing.

The castle is known as the Hammer House for the number of Hammer films in which it appeared. A great deal of location shooting took place there. At the time, the manor was in very dilapidated condition. Filming took place during autumn, which made conditions harsh. Today, the castle, Oakley Courtmarker, has been completely refurbished and is now a luxury hotel.

Costumes

One of the more unusual aspects of the film was the costume designs. Designer Sue Blane based all her designs on what little she knew of 1950s United States. A previous production she had designed called "The Maids" also starred Tim Curry in a Victorian corset. This same corset was used in the London stage production and then used again in the film. Blane compared the relatively small $400 costume budget of the stage show to the $1600 costume budget in 1974 for the film.

Nearly all the costume designs from the original stage production were used in the film, with a few exceptions. Some new designs appeared and a few old ones were discarded. In the London stage production, Tim Curry began the role of Frank N. Furter as a blond, and although it was short lived, the original design sketches by Blane do reflect that. Magenta gained a new maid costume to give the character more purpose and Columbia gained a sequined evening coat.

The introduction of new characters such as the Transylvanians presented Sue Blane with a challenge to costume a number of extras who reappear throughout the film. The outcome of their costuming did not satisfy Blane who stated that she wished she had more time for those particular costumes.

In the stage productions, actors generally did their own make-up, but for this film the producers chose Pierre La Roche to redesign the make-up for each character (he had previously designed make-up for David Bowie). Production stills were taken by 1970s rock photographer, Mick Rock, who has published many calendars and photo books from his Rocky Horror work.

As part of the audience participation fans recreate the costumes to wear to screenings. Like other movie fans, participants at Rocky Horror wear their costumes while attending conventions as well as on the weekends at local showings of the movie. Fans go to great lengths to be as faithful to the designs as possible. The quality of these costumes range from the unrecognisable to faithful screen replicas.

Release

The film has enjoyed an unusually long run, both in the US and internationally. The movie is considered to be the longest running release in film history. It has never been pulled by 20th Century Fox from its original 1975 release, and continues to play in cinemas more than thirty years later. Some cinemas showing the movie have run it for decades at a time.

The film was released on VHS during the home video boom of the 1980s, except for in the U.S., which had to wait for the 15th anniversary in 1990. In 1993, a Laserdisc edition was released, and in 1995 a Special Edition Laserdisc was released. On the 25th anniversary in 2000, a DVD was released with all the special features from the Laserdisc, as well as new features and DVD-ROM games. Before the mainstream use of home video (and for quite some time afterward, except for bootleg copies), a Super 8 version of selected scenes of the film was available.

There are two versions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the US and British releases. The British version contains the original ending with the full version of the musical number "Super Heroes". The US version omits the number, as the studio thought it was too depressing. Both versions are on the 25th Anniversary DVD.

Reception

The film opened in the US at the UA Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, Californiamarker on 26 September 1975. It did well at that location but not elsewhere. The cult following did not begin until the movie began its midnight run at the Waverly Theatre in New York on 1 April 1976.

Overall, critics were negative with their reviews of the movie. The overtly sexual nature of this British rock comedy was not well received by the mainstream US media of 1975, although there were positive reviews. The music was praised, as was Tim Curry's performance. However, before the success of the midnight screenings, the film was withdrawn from its eight opening cities due to very small audiences, and its planned New York opening (on Halloween night) was canceled. Fox re-released it around college campuses on a double-bill with another rock music film parody, Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, but again it drew small audiences. With Pink Flamingos (1972) and Reefer Madness (1936) making money in midnight showings nationwide, RHPS was eventually screened at midnight, starting in New York City on April Fools' Day of 1976. By that Halloween, people were attending in costume and talking back to the screen. By mid-1978, RHPS was playing in over fifty locations on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, newsletters were published by local performance groups, and fans gathered for Rocky Horror conventions. By the end of 1979, there were twice-weekly showings at over 230 theaters.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show has taken in $139,876,417 (USA) (sub-total) in box office receipts since its release. The length of its run in cinemas (weekly for over 30 years), combined with its considerable total box office gross, is unparalleled by any other film. The original budget for the movie was $1,200,000 (estimated). The audience participation helped the film become a worldwide phenomenon. As the cult-audience grew, Rocky Horror fandom became the subject of news stories. Dori Hartley, a fan from the original New York shadow cast, went on to appear in "Paradise Garage", a Tim Curry music video.

After the release, the original advertising campaign for screen and television was pulled by Twentieth Century Fox executives in the very early stage. The studio objected to the use of the red lipsticked lips uttering the words Twentieth Century Fox. The American television network Fox Broadcasting aired the film's much-publicized US television premiere on 25 October 1993. The film's popularity breathed new life to the stage production, which had had a 45-performance run on Broadwaymarker early in 1975 at the Belasco Theatremarker. Rocky Horror sequels and other media have found their way into production, including merchandise ranging from prefabricated costumes, games, and soundtrack releases.

A movie theater in Munichmarker, Germany called the "Museum Lichtspiele" has been screening the movie since June 24, 1977 without interruption, holding the world-record for constant screenings of a movie and is listed for that in the Guinness Book of World Records. The theater has a dedicated screening room ("Kino 2"), decorated in the style of the movie.

Sequels, scripts and remake

Interest for other movies by both hardcore fans as well as the more mainstream audience has been around for some time. In 1981, Fox released Shock Treatment, the follow-up film by the same artistic group. It was never in general release, but premiered straight to the midnight circuit. This standalone feature was not a direct sequel to the original film. It told the continuing story of Brad (Cliff DeYoung) and Janet (Jessica Harper) following their marriage. Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Charles Gray and Nell Campbell from Rocky Horror appeared in this film, playing different characters. Only Jeremy Newson appears in the sequel as the same character, Ralph Hapschatt. The original script was titled Rocky Horror Shows His Heels and began as a direct sequel until the idea was changed because of the unavailability of some of the original cast. The story was changed as well as the title, becoming first The Brad and Janet Show and finally Shock Treatment.

A few years later, author Richard O'Brien wrote another script intended as a direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show entitled Revenge of the Old Queen. Producer Michael White had hoped to begin work on the production and described the script as "...in the same style as the other one. It has reflections of the past in it."

A first draft of the screenplay itself was posted on the Internet as well as the others. The screenplay's plot begins on the alien planet, where author O'Brien's character, Riff Raff is eventually transported back to the Earth on a mission that has him travel across the galaxy to Fresno, California.

MTV Films and Sky Movies were planning to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The network was planning a 2-hour-long remake to be based on the original screenplay, and featuring songs not included in the original. The film was initially anticipated to have been released sometime around Halloween 2009. The creator of the original, Richard O'Brien, wasn't involved; he has said that while he has no view on whether it should be remade, it does not have his blessing. As of September 15, 2009, the remake of Rocky Horror has been canceled.

Musical numbers

Song Singers/Characters Scene
Science Fiction/Double Feature Patricia Quinn (Lips), Richard O'Brien (Vocals) Opening credits
Dammit Janet Brad, Janet

(Riff-Raff, Magenta, Columbia)
Denton church
Over at the Frankenstein Place Brad, Janet

(Riff-Raff, Chorus)
A rainy countryside road,

A window of the castle (unknown room)
The Time Warp Riff-Raff, Magenta, Columbia

(Criminologist, Transylvanians)
Castle ballroom,

Criminologist's office
Sweet Transvestite Frank N. Furter

(Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia, Brad, Janet, Transylvanians)
Castle ballroom
The Sword of Damocles Rocky

(Riff-Raff, Magenta, Columbia, Transylvanians)
The Lab
I Can Make You a Man Frank N. Furter

(Transylvanians)
The Lab
Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul Eddie

(Transylvanians)
The Lab
I Can Make You a Man

(Reprise)
Frank N. Furter

(Janet, Transylvanians)
The Lab
Once in a While

(deleted scene)
Brad Brad's bedroom
Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me Janet

(Columbia, Magenta, Rocky, Brad, Frank, Riff-Raff)
The Lab,

Columbia's bedroom
Eddie Dr. Scott, Columbia, Eddie

(Janet, Frank, Brad, Riff Raff, Magenta)
Dining room,

Columbia's bedroom
Ballroom Blitz' Dr. Scott, Columbia, Eddie

(Janet, Frank, Brad, Riff Raff, Magenta)
Dining room,

Columbia's bedroom
Planet, Schmanet, Janet/Hot Dog Frank N. Furter

(Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott)
Castle corridors,

the Lab
The Floor Show Castle ballroom/stage/swimming pool
a. Rose Tint My World Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet
b. Fanfare/Don't Dream It, Be It Frank N. Furter

(Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott)
c. Wild And Untamed Thing Brad, Janet, Columbia, Rocky, Riff-Raff

(Dr. Scott)
I'm Going Home Frank N. Furter

(Brad, Janet, Columbia, Rocky, Dr. Scott)
Castle ballroom
Superheroes Brad, Janet

(Criminologist)
Exterior of the castle,

Criminologist's office
Science Fiction/Double Feature

Richard O'Brien End credits


Soundtrack

The soundtrack was released as The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Music From The Motion Picture in 1975. It contained the tracks:

  1. "Science Fiction/Double Feature"
  2. "Dammit Janet"
  3. "Over at the Frankenstein Place"
  4. "Time Warp"
  5. "Sweet Transvestite"
  6. "Sword of Damocles"
  7. "I Can Make You a Man"
  8. "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul"
  9. "I Can Make You a Man (Reprise)"
  10. "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me"
  11. "Eddie"
  12. "Floor Show":

    a. "Rose Tint My World"

    b. "Fanfare/Don't Dream It"

    c. "Wild and Untamed Thing"
  13. "I'm Going Home"
  14. "Super Heroes"
  15. "Science Fiction/Double Feature (Reprise)"


The 1989 CD release included two bonus tracks:

  1. "Time Warp (1989 remix - extended version)"
  2. "Time Warp (music - 1 = background track = U mix)"


"The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 25 Years of Absolute Pleasure" (2000)

See also



References

  1. While the plot and dialogue provide a time line for the setting of the film, many critics and fans alike point to the Richard Nixon resignation speech, made in August of 1974, that characters Brad and Janet are listening to when their tire goes flat. The Internet Movie Data Base states "Richard O'Brien has said about this inconsistency that it was used to show how much of a nerd Brad is, implying that he taped the speech and listened to it regularly." See
  2. Piro, Sal and Hess, Michael (1991) The Official Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Par-tic-i-pation Guide. Livonia, MI: Stabur Press. 77.


Bibliography

External links










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