The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975): UK

Reviewed by William Conlin. Viewed on Netflix Streaming Video.

“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey.” says the Criminologist at the beginning of Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show. These simple words are an understatement to say the least, but if one can keep an open mind for one hundred some minutes, they will take a campy, gender-bending ride that they will never forget.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show starts with a giant pair of red lips serenading us about the great double feature shows of classic Hollywood, and from there it just gets complicated. Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged all-American couple, are driving along when a dead-end/flat tire/stormy night (tongue-in-cheek cliché alert) causes them to seek refuge at the home of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry). The doctor (a mad scientist) is a cross-dresser from “Transsexual Transylvania” who is about to create a man named Rocky for his personal pleasure. If I still have your attention I will let you just watch the film instead of attempting to go deeper.

The first thing one must do with The Rocky Horror Picture Show is throw away any preconception. Not preconceptions about film or gender, just any preconception, period. If you can do that you will see this film in all its true campy glory. Tim Curry gives a career-defining performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, which gives a whole new meaning to the term “shock and awe”. Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon’s startled expressions bring great comedy to nearly every scene, and the supporting performances by Meatloaf, Patricia Quinn and Peter Hinwood truly make the movie what it is.

Featuring iconic songs like Science Fiction/Double Feature and Time Warp, the musical numbers infuse this film with an energy that some musicals lack. It’s extremely hard to keep in your seat when you hear Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) scream, “Let’s do The Time Warp again!”, which is why most of the time people don’t. The Rocky Horror Picture Show has created a cult-life following who come in droves whenever the film is screened, usually dressed as the characters, and act out the film below the screen as the other film goers throw things at them.

Released in 1975 and never officially taken off of the market even to this day, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is technically the longest running film of all time. Considering the time it was made in, The Rocky Horror Picture Show addresses some pretty heavy things with a great deal of comedy. Its portrayal of sexual freedom and cross-dressing seems years ahead of its time and paved the way for many films after it. With Halloween coming up, there’s nothing more appropriate than this hilarious classic.

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