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The Rocky Horror Picture Show Movie Review

transylvanians brad richard janet

1975 – Jim Sharman –

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.” These are the first words from the Criminologist (Charles Gray) and narrator. A strange journey, indeed. This rock-music spoof of horror movies begins with two clean cut, straight arrows, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and his betrothed, Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), at the wedding of a friend in Denton, the “home of happiness.” Later that night while driving in a thunderstorm, they have a blowout and must walk to a mysterious castle to ask to use the phone.

In spite of the voice of Richard Nixon on their car radio (he intones his resignation speech, but the characters ignore it), the movie takes place less in the United States or even in Transylvania than in the never-never land of kinky rock satire. Instead of finding a telephone at the castle, Brad and Janet wind up watching a chorus line of singing butlers and maids in ghoulish makeup. As the couple attempts to leave, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) enters and musically announces himself as the transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania. The rest of this movie is a tangled, bawdy tale of new experiences for the couple. In two of the more clever scenes, Curry climbs into bed with Janet and Brad at separate times (only the silhouettes are visible behind the bed curtains), and the dialogue plays exactly the same in both scenes. Curry speaks seductively, and first Janet, then Brad responds with shock, innocence, and finally guarded curiosity.

The film's small budget and stage origins show up in the rather lengthy use made of sets like the laboratory (new characters arrive by crashing through the wall rather than director Sharman's opening things up a bit by moving the action elsewhere). Most of the stretches between the songs will hold much less interest in a living-room viewing than at a midnight showing among a raucous audience reciting the dialogue, singing, and throwing bread at the screen. Rocky's cult following has given it an epic stature, and most recent cassette editions begin with a featurette about the film's popularity that includes comments by the director, interviews with wildly costumed audience members, and some glimpses of an audience during a showing of the film.

Cast: Tim Curry (Dr. Frank N. Furter), Susan Sarandon (Janet Weiss), Barry Bostwick (Brad Majors), Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff), Patricia Quinn (Magenta), Nell Campbell (Columbia), Jonathan Adams (Dr. Everett Scott), Peter Hinwood (Rocky), Meat Loaf (Eddie), Charles Gray (The Criminologist), Jeremy Newson (Ralph Hapschatt), Hilary Labow (Betty Munroe), Perry Bedden (The Transylvanians), Christopher Biggins (The Transylvanians), Gaye Brown (The Transylvanians), Ishaq Bux (The Transylvanians), Stephen Calcutt (The Transylvanians), Hugh Cecil (The Transylvanians), Imogen Claire (The Transylvanians), Tony Cowan (The Transylvanians), Sadie Corre (The Transylvanians), Fran Fullenwider (The Transylvanians), Lindsay Ingram (The Transylvanians), Peggy Ledger (The Transylvanians), Annabel Leventon (The Transylvanians), Anthony Miller (The Transylvanians), Pamela Obermeyer (The Transylvanians), Tony Then (The Transylvanians), Kimi Wong (The Transylvanians), Henry Woolf (The Transylvanians), Gina Barrie (The Transylvanians), Rufus Collins (The Transylvanians), Petra Leah (The Transylvanians), Koo Stark (The Transylvanians) Screenwriter: Richard O'Brien, Jim Sharman Cinematographer: Peter Suschitzky Composer: Richard Hartley, Richard O'Brien Producer: Michael White for Twentieth Century Fox MPAA Rating: R Running Time: 105 minutes Format: VHS, LV Box Office: $44M (rentals).

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