Turn Back The Clock/Comedy
Rocky Horror Picture Show/Shock Treatment
Click Here to buy now: The Rocky Horror Picture Show / Shock Treatment (3-Disc Anniversary Edition)
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by: Ismael Manzano
I was first introduced to the Rocky Horror Picture Show several years ago by an old high school friend of mine. I’d heard of the movie, but had never seen it at the time, and all I’d known about it was that it starred Tim Curry and he was in drag. Other than that, I had no idea whether it was a comedy, horror, or what. Being the opened minded chap that I was—and still am—I checked out the movie, and while my friendship with said high schooler has since gone awry, my love for the movie has not faltered and probably never will. This Christmas I was treated to a double feature—the Rocky Horror/Shock Treatment, two pack DVD. I don’t have to tell you that I went straight home to watch my old favorite and its sequel.
Rocky Horror Picture Show is the brainchild of Richard O'Brian, and follows the adventures of Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), a recently engaged couple who accidentally get stranded on a highway one night, rainy night while on their way to see their old professor and now friend, Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams). Happenstance brings them to the mansion of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry, Legend) a rival scientist with a connection to Dr. Scott.
Immediately, small-town, Brad and Janet realize that this is no ordinary mansion and no ordinary occupants. Aside from the singing, the dancing and Frank’s penchant for wearing women’s clothing, he is also a scientist who has just perfected a technique to create life. What does he do with this knowledge? Why, he makes himself a man, with blond hair and a tan…”he’s good for relieving my…tension.”
While it all may sound like harmless fun, it isn’t long before Frank’s jealous, insatiable nature comes to the forefront. When Dr. Scott appears, things get complicated as it is revealed that Frank and his two cohorts Riff-Raff (Richard O’Brian) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn) are all aliens with plans of world domination. Can small-town Brad and Janet overcome these aliens and their own awakened passions to save the day?
I don’t have to tell you how I feel about this movie. It’s a classic, and a lot of fun to watch. I would give a warning to the more conservative of my fans out there: if you have a problem with cross dressing, homosexuality, infidelity, rock and roll, or aliens, this movie is not for you. For everyone else—old or young—with an open mind, you’re sure to love this movie. The brilliance of it is, that it is a spoof of the horror movies of olden days, but there’s more to it than that. The movie, for all it’s quirkiness and humor is more than just a film about a transvestite and his cohorts and their plot to take over the world. As one of the final songs of the movie aptly states, “Don’t dream it, be it,” this movie is about living your dreams, being who you are and not letting anything stand in your way, a lesson, I think most of us could do well to learn. Perhaps it is this lesson that makes the movie so timeless and so appealing, despite its many eccentricities.
When taken as a serious movie, Horror doesn’t make much sense, but when viewed as a vehicle for social satire and a spoof of the b-movie horror flicks of the time, Horror is not only fun to watch, but brilliant. The songs are catchy and energetic, and the message behind it all is worth paying attention to. Plus there’s always something to be said about a movie that indulges in so much decadence.
And now onto Horror’s sequel,
Shock Treatment, again written by Richard O Brian. In one of the commentaries
of the Rocky Horror Picture Show,
O'Brian stated how he wished he could follow Brad and Janet after the adventures with Frank. Hence, six years later, Shock Treatment was born.
The movie follows Brad (Cliff De Young) and Janet (Jessica Harper) back into their picturesque town of Denton some time after the adventures of the last movie.
Some old characters returned for this installment. Richard O’Brian, Patricia Quinn and Nell Campbell (Formerly, Riff-Raff, Magenta and Columbia) are once again a dastardly trio, playing, Cosmo McKinley, Nation McKinley and Nurse Ansalong, three employees of a psychiatric hospital to which Brad has been committed. Brad and Janet have had their problems since we last saw them, and Janet has resorted to dragging her husband onto a popular—and crazy—television show DTV, that has taken over almost every aspect of the Denton lifestyle. The television show has deemed Brad emotionally crippled in his marriage and sentenced him to therapy. DTV is run and owned by Farley Flavors (also played by Cliff De Young), and he has he eyes set on Janet. In fact, Janet’s entire life becomes a television show and it isn’t long before that popularity goes to her head. With Brad safely locked away and Janet’s legions of adoring fans growing, can this small-town couple overcome the demon of commercialism and save their marriage before Farley can completely corrupt Janet and have her all to himself?
Enough about that, let’s get straight to the critique. This could possibly be the worst movie I’ve ever seen. Its horridness is made worse only by the brilliance of its predecessor. While I understand that O’Brian was trying to create a world outside that of Rocky Horror—where Horror was all about freedom and decadences, Treatment is all about oppression and a conservative society—I just did not think that the setting of a television-obsessed, commercialized world was the right fit for the story. It felt like too many things were going on in the movie, too many points and social observations to properly follow. Plus, I was disappointed that they did not refer the events of Horror at all, as if it had never happened. I couldn’t even tell if Janet’s behavior was a result of her experiences in Horror or just a rehash of her personality switch from the first movie.
Add to that, the fact that the movie has no actual ending, positive or negative, and you get a huge let down with little more than a couple of memorable songs. I had expected more from O'Brian, but I guess it would have been impossible to follow the cult success of Horror. Either way, I’m glad I own Shock Treatment, if only because it’s part of Horror and I love that movie.
Look for the special 25th year anniversary edition two-pack DVD set. Horror comes with plenty of extras, including the UK version—which is pretty much the same thing as the regular version with an extra song at the end—interviews, outtakes, and prompts to get the novice Horror watcher up to speed on how to interact with the movie like the audience does in theaters. Check it out and enjoy.
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