The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical comedy film that parodies science fiction and horror films. With a screenplay written by Richard O'Brien and Jim Sharman, the film features Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick. The film is based on the British musical stage production The Rocky Horror Show.
The film is considered a cult classic and a midnight movie, although it is widely known by mainstream audiences and has a large international following. RHPS was the first movie from a major film studio—20th Century Fox—in the midnight-movie market. The movie is one of the most well known and financially successful midnight movies. It is the longest running theatrical release in film history. More than 30 years later it is still in limited release in cinemas around the world. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The story, narrated by a criminologist (Charles Gray), is that of a newly engaged young couple, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy night. Seeking a phone with which to call for help, the two knock on the door at a nearby castle, which they find is inhabited by strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They watch, still wet from the rain, as the Transylvanians dance the Time Warp, the film's signature song.
They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a bizarre and self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania" and his servants, brother and sister Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn), as well as a 1970s-style groupie Columbia (Nell Campbell) and an ensemble of convention attendees. It is Frank's intention to unveil the "secret to life itself". He takes the whole group up to his lab "to see what's on the slab."
Inspired by the classic Frankenstein movies, "Rocky Horror" (Peter Hinwood) is brought to life. After the disoriented Rocky runs, and is chased down and tackled by Frank, the party is interrupted by the arrival of Eddie (Meat Loaf), an ex-delivery boy, who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. Eddie enchants everyone, and in a jealous response, Frank corners and slaughters Eddie (to everyone's horror) with an ice axe.
Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms. Each are visited by someone dressed as the other. It is Frank in disguise, who seduces the couple, one after the other. Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad. She discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff who has been tormenting him, much as Igor tormented Frankenstein's monster. She seduces the creature as Magenta and Columbia watch on their 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 (Jonathan Adams), Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie. Furter suspects Dr. Scott of working for the government investigating UFOs. It is at this point that Rocky and Janet are discovered hiding in the tank. In a scene added specifically for the film version, Rocky and the guests are served dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's remains. After Frank tears the tablecloth from the transparent table, they see what they have been served. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms, and is chased through the halls of the castle by a jealous and outraged Frank. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer. They are forced under Frank's power to perform in a cabaret-style floor show. The performance is interrupted by the appearance of Riff Raff and Magenta, who stage a coup d'etat 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 earthlings—Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott— warning them to get off the property; after they do so, the entire castle takes off into space to return to the planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.
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 Court, 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.
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.
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 films that it appeared in. A great deal of location shooting took place here. At the time, the manor was in very dilapidated condition. Filming took place during autumn, which made conditions harsh. Today, the castle, Oakley Court, has been completely refurbished and is now a luxury hotel. It recently hosted a Rocky Horror picnic on its grounds.
Nearly all the costume designs from the original stage production were transferred directly to the film, with a few exceptions. Some new designs appeared as well as a few that were discarded. In the London stage production, Tim Curry began the role of Frank-N-Furter as a blond, 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 tuxedo and tails.
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 producers chose famed artist Pierre La Roche to redesign the make-up for each character. La Roche is also famous for designing make-up for David Bowie. Production stills were taken by an artist famous for his 1970's rock photographs, Mick Rock. The photographer has published many calendars and photo books from his Rocky Horror work.
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. The limited VHS edition release had a suggested retail price of $100. 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, 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 which includes the full version of the musical number "Super Heroes". The US version edits out the number, which was thought to be too depressing by the studio. Both versions are on the 25th Anniversary DVD.
Overall, critics were negative with their reviews of the movie. The overly 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 cancelled. 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 made 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 Broadway early in 1975 at the Belasco Theatre. Rocky Horror sequels and other media have found their way into production, including merchandise ranging from prefabricated costumes, games, and soundtrack releases.
The original stage production has been revived and found its way back to Broadway. It was nominated for four Tony Awards in 2001, including Best Revival of a Musical. Interest for other movies by both hardcore fans as well as the more mainstream audiance has been around for some time. In 1982 Twentieth Century Fox released "Shock Treatment" the follow up film by the same artistic group and many of the original British cast. It was never in general release but premiered straight to the midnight circuit. This stand alone feature was not a direct sequel to the original film. It told the continuing story of Brad and Janet against characters portrayed by the same actors from the first film with the noteble exceptions of Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon. The original script was titled "Rocky Horror Shows His Heels" and did begin as a direct sequel until the idea began to change due to unavailablity of some of the original cast. So the story was changed as well as the title, which became "The Brad and Janet Show" until it's final conception as Shock Treatment.
Another script was written by the original author, Richard O'Brien some years later intended as a direct sequel. Entitled "Revenge of the Old Queen" it was never made and O'Brien himself has been quoted as saying it never will.
MTV and Sky Movies are planning to remake The Rocky Horror Picture show. According to Variety the network is planning a 2 hour long remake that is based on the original screenplay, and will feature songs not included in the original. The film is anticipated to be released sometime during Halloween 2009. In an E! Entertainment interview, shock rocker Marilyn Manson claimed he had been approached by 20th Century Fox to play Frank N Furter, in an updated version of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, tentatively titled Rocky Horror.
The creator of the original, Richard O'Brien, will not be involved; he has said that while he has no view on whether it should be remade, it does not have his blessing.
Barry Bostwick, who played Brad in the original version, replied to the news of the remake by saying, "Oh, really? That’s a waste of money. That would be like saying…and understand that I’m not making this as a total comparison, but it would be like saying, ‘Hey, let’s go remake ‘Casablanca’! I think films like [‘Rocky Horror’] are stand-alones and brilliant for what they were at the time they were done. You should just leave those things alone.”
Susan Sarandon, who was the original Janet, slammed the remake saying “Why would anyone want to do a remake of a cult classic? There was at one time a sequel discussed with me—and they may have even done it, I’m not sure—but none of us were really interested.”
|Song||Lead Singer(s)||Other Singers||Scene|
|Science Fiction/Double Feature||Richard O'Brien (Patricia Quinn as lips)||N/A||Opening credits|
|Dammit Janet||Brad, Janet||Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia||Hapschatt wedding|
|Over at the Frankenstein Place||Brad, Janet||Riff Raff, Chorus||A rainy night on the way to Dr. Scott's|
|The Time Warp||Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia||Criminologist, Transylvanians||Ballroom of the castle|
|Sweet Transvestite||Frank-N-Furter||Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia, Transylvanians||Ballroom of the castle immediately after Time Warp|
|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/song)||Brad||N/A||Brad's Bedroom (intercut with scenes of him and Janet from the first half of the movie)|
|Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me||Janet||Rocky, Brad, Frank, Magenta, Riff Raff, Columbia||Rocky's birth tank in the lab|
|Eddie||Dr. Scott, Columbia||Full cast||The dining room in the castle, Columbia's bedroom|
|''Planet, Schmanet, Janet'||Frank-N-Furter||Riff-Raff, Magenta, Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott||Stairway and corridors of the castle then back to the lab|
|Rose Tint My World||Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet||N/A||Floor show stage|
|Don't Dream It, Be It||Frank-N-Furter||Brad, Janet, Columbia, Rocky, Dr. Scott||Floor show pool|
|Wild And Untamed Thing||Frank-N-Furter, Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet||Riff Raff||Floor show stage|
|I'm Going Home||Frank-N-Furter||Columbia, Rocky, Brad, Janet||Floor show theater stage and aisle|
|Superheroes (scene/song deleted in US release)||Brad, Janet||Criminologist||Exterior of the castle and the criminologist's office|
|Science Fiction/Double Feature (Reprise)||Richard O'Brien (no character)||N/A||Ending credits|
The 1989 CD release included two bonus tracks:
|#||Title||Lead Performer(s)||Length||Other Performer(s)|
|1||"Science Fiction/Double Feature"||Richard O'Brien||4:27||-|
|2||"Dammit, Janet"||Barry Bostwick (Brad), Susan Sarandon (Janet)||3:22||Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell|
|3||"Over at the Frankenstein Place"||Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff)||3:59||Criminologist, Chorus|
|4||"Time Warp"||Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn (Magenta), Nell Campbell (Columbia)||4:29||Charles Gray, Transylvanians|
|5||"Sweet Transvestite"||Tim Curry (Frank-N-Furter)||4:06||Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Transylvanians|
|6||"The Sword of Damocles"||Trevor White (Rocky Horror: Voice)||3:38||Tim Curry, Transylvanians|
|7||"I Can Make You a Man"||Tim Curry||3:15||Transylvanians|
|8||"Hot Patootie"||Meat Loaf||3:21||Transylvanians|
|9||"I Can Make You a Man (Reprise)"||Tim Curry||1:59||Susan Sarandon, Transylvanians|
|10||"Once in a While"||Barry Bostwick||3:45||Charles Gray|
|11||"Toucha-Toucha-Touch Me"||Susan Sarandon||2:59||Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, Barry Bostwick, Tim Curry, Richard O'Brien, Trevor White, Charles Gray|
|12||"Eddie"||Jonathon Adams (Dr. Scott), Nell Campbell, Meat Loaf||2:47||Full Cast|
|13||"Planet, Schmanet, Janet"||Tim Curry||2:36||Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Jonathon Adams|
|14||"Rose Tint My World"||Nell Campbell, Trevor White, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon||4:03||Charles Gray|
|15||"Don't Dream It, Be It"||Tim Curry||3:36||Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Nell Campbell, Trevor White, Jonathon Adams|
|16||"Wild and Untamed Thing"||Nell Campbell, Trevor White, Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon||1:51||Richard O'Brien|
|17||"I'm Going Home"||Tim Curry||2:57||-|
|18||"Super Heroes"||Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, Charles Gray||5:27||Patricia Quinn, Richard O'Brien, Jonathon Adams, Nell Campbell|
|19||"Science Fiction/Double Feature (Reprise)"||Richard O'Brien||1:30||-|
|20||"Time Warp (1989 Remix - Extended Version"♦||Full Cast||5:36||-|
|21||"Rocky Horror Picture Show (Movie Trailer)"♦||-||2:58||-|