Original release: September 26th, 1975
Re-release October 31st, 2012
Running time: 100 minutes
Director: Jim Sharman
Writers: Richard O’Brien, Jim Sharman
Cast: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O’Brien, Meat Loaf
Throughout our lives we search for things to help give our existences meaning and anchorage. Some of us go in search of fame and fortune, while others seek to fulfil their lives with jobs and careers, but one thing we all search for together is love.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, famed for its outlandish characters, bizarre costumes and garish musical numbers, is a film which also shows us that no one is alone in the search for love, even if some go about it in out of this world ways.
The story plays out as a parody of the science fiction and horror movies that came from the 1950s. Newly engaged couple Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) are stranded on rainy night when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere. Knocking on the door of the nearest house they find, a peculiar looking butler, Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), welcomes them in.
From there on in the film switches from black and white to full colour as we’re introduced to an array of characters including Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”, his sister and lover, Magenta (Patricia Quinn), a groupie called Columbia (Nell Campbell), and his Warhol-esque creation, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood).
It just so happens that Brad and Janet come knocking on the same night Frank N. Furter is hosting his Annual Transylvanian Convention. The bemused couple watch as the guests sing and dance to the Time Warp before Eddie (Meat Loaf), an ex-delivery boy, partial brain donor to Rocky, and Columbia’s lover, gatecrashes the gathering and tries to kill Rocky. He’s stopped by Frank N. Furter with an ice axe before retreating to the bridal room with his creation.
Later on when Brad and Janet are given separate rooms for the night, Frank N. Furter tries to seduce them while Riff Raff torments Rocky in the laboratory. The plot gets even weirder when Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams), who’s Brad and Janet’s old high school science teacher and Frank N. Furter’s rival, turns up looking for his nephew, Eddie.
Frank N. Furter starts to suspect the trio are actually working for the government and investigating UFOs, but nevertheless they all sit down to a dinner, only to realise they’re being served Eddie’s remains. Attempting to escape, Frank turns them in statues, forcing them to participate in an orgy, but Riff Raff and Magenta stage a coup to overthrow their transsexual leader and return to the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania.
Adapted for the screen from the British stage play of the same name by Richard O’Brien, who wrote both the book and lyrics for the stage, The Rocky Horror Picture Show gained notoriety when it was given a midnight screening back in 1977 and audiences began actively participating. Since then it’s become the longest-running theatrical release in film history with fans dressing up and going along to watch the movie as their favourite characters.
What remains so fascinating about The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the way the plot becomes increasingly zany with each scene, culminating in a climax that’s so absurd it’s actually brilliant, managing to combine three usually separate genres (musical, science fiction and horror). As we watch the all-American couple gradually give themselves “over to absolute pleasure”, their ideas about monogamous relationships also come into conflict with Frank N. Furter’s sexual revolution, but even he’s searching for something which has so far eluded him – and will continue to do so.
With all its attractions though, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a film that’s not for everyone. Those who hate it hate it passionately, and those who love it also love it passionately and it’s not hard to see why. For 100 minutes it allows us to drop our inhibitions and cross socially imposed boundaries for a night of erotic nightmares beyond any measure, and sensual daydreams to treasure forever.
The founder of Static Mass Emporium and one of its Editors in Chief is a composer and music producer with a philosophy degree. Static Mass is where he lives his passion for film and writing about it. A fan of film classics, documentaries and World Cinema, Patrick prefers films with an impeccable way of storytelling that reflect on the human condition.
You can find his music on Soundcloud .