Directed By: Jim Sharman
Starring: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick
Tag line: "Give yourself over to absolute pleasure"
Trivia: Meat Loaf has no spoken words - all of his dialogue is sung
At first glance, 1975’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show is… well, kinda creepy!
A criminologist (Charles Gray) narrates the bizarre story of Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged couple who, when their car breaks down in the rain, end up at the front door of a castle belonging to Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a transvestite / mad scientist / extrovert who, like Dr. Frankenstein before him, has discovered the secret to creating life. Shortly after awakening his “creation”, Rocky (Peter Hinwood), Dr. Frank-n-Furter has Brad and Janet shown to their rooms, where, during the night, he’ll introduce the naïve couple to an evening of passion unlike any they’ve experienced before.
Its weird premise aside, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an absolute blast, a musical / comedy featuring one hell of a dynamic performance by Tim Curry. Decked out in, among other things, panties, garters, and stockings, Curry oozes charisma as the slightly odd Dr. Frank-n-Furter, leading Brad and Janet on a whirlwind tour of his house of horrors while, in the process, belting out a variety of upbeat tunes. With all the appearances of a moral degenerate (he manages, at separate times, to seduce both Janet and Brad, and even uses the same line to lure each of them into bed), Dr. Frank-n-Furter, and everyone within his house, actually exist outside the realm of normal reality. The spiritual leader of a peculiar group, which includes his butler Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brien), maid Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and a host of others, Dr. Frank-n-Furter alone sets the standards of right and wrong in this curious world, and Tim Curry seems to be having the time of his life as his character stretches the boundaries of good taste to their breaking point.
Another aspect of The Rocky Horror Picture Show that’s helped transform it into a cult classic is its music. From its opening scene, where a pair of detached lips sings “Science Fiction Double Feature” (a loving tribute to the sci-fi movies of old, including The Day The Earth Stood Still, King Kong, and even Doctor X), it’s clear that the film’s music will be every bit as unusual as its main character. For me, the two best numbers are “Time Warp”, where Riff-Raff and Magenta lead a collection of like-minded oddities in a boisterous dance (“but it’s the pelvic thrust that really drives them insane”), and “Sweet Transvestite”, which serves as our introduction to Dr. Frank-n-Furter. On-screen, these two songs come within moments of each other, making for what I consider to be one of the finest one-two punches in musical history.
Soon after its initial release, The Rocky Horror Picture Show became a midnight sensation. Fans of the film often “interact” with it, shouting back at the screen and reciting the dialogue, sometimes with costumed performers "acting out" the movie on-stage as it plays on the screen behind them (the main characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower do this very thing). I’ve never had the pleasure of sitting in on one of these midnight showings, but it’s something I really want to do. Watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show in the privacy of my own home usually results in a riotous good time. I can only imagine how much fun I’d have seeing it with a crowd.