Wednesday, 10 August 2011

100 days, 100 films; Day 55 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show

#46 - The Rocky Horror Picture Show:

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey...
This journey will take us back to the 1970s towards an extremely controversial film based on an equally controversial (not to mention bizarre) stage musical that was an affectionate parody of sci-fi B-movies and featured some of the crudest and horniest humour in existence today. Said film of course tanked at the box office, yet today it holds the record for longest theatrical run in cinemas. And it’s still running. To find out more, let’s go on this strange journey.

Meet a charming and innocent young couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. They have just gotten engaged and are planning to visit their old friend Dr Scott, but during a torrential rain storm they get a flat tyre. They stop at a castle on the side of the road to use the phone and find themselves inexplicably drawn into the world of the castle’s curious occupants. The whole show is run by the sinister Dr Frank-N-Furter, a makeup and stockings clad transvestite from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. Frank is certainly one sinister scientist as he has a tendency to plough anything that moves (male and female) and his servants Riff-Raff, Magenta and Columbia are equally confusing and disturbing. On this very night, Frank has been building a creation in his lab – the titular Rocky Horror is a buff and tanned man who only has half a brain. Also in the Deep Freezer is Eddie, a biker whom Columbia had a thing with. Oh and the whole thing is a musical.

This film has been described as a celebration of sexuality, glam-rock style complete with double entendres, overt and un-PC sexual humour and of course memorable songs. It’s most certainly not a film you’ll want to watch with your parents, even if they themselves enjoyed this. You’ll probably want to watch it in a group of people, with mixed genders considering it caters to pretty much every kind of sexuality there is (if there isn’t one represented here, feel free to contact the people working on the remake). People who have only heard about it will call it a “gay” film of course but that’s just not doing the research. I’m straight myself and I know plenty of other straight guys who enjoy this film and appreciate it for what it is. Methinks people who are afraid to watch this film need to loosen up a little and enjoy some good horny fun. That being said, the film isn’t for everyone and if you don’t get it or enjoy it then that’s fine but watching Rocky Horror is often seen as a rite of passage for teenagers. Whether or not your date with Rosie Palms came about watching Janet tearing off her petticoats or Frank pulling off Rocky’s bandages doesn’t really come into the equation, does it?

Now believe it or not, the majority of the film’s cast were involved in the original stage production. Indeed Richard O’Brien who played Riff-Raff wrote the original musical as well as acting as producer and having a hand in cinematography. Tim Curry who plays Frank-N-Furter played the role on stage and strangely got hoards of fangirls chasing after him based on this particular role (see it even caters to the girls with a transvestite fetish). According to Curry himself he grew “chubby and plain” to stop them chasing after him. And apparently when he played Pennywise in IT, they started all over again. As our young innocent couple we have Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, both of whom are clearly having the time of their lives with their over-the-top performances as nods to the classic B-movies such as The Invisible Man, The Day The Earth Stood Still and Day of the Triffids. Susan Sarandon is just as hot back then as she is now, though it’s a different kind of sex appeal. We have a couple of other dark horses in the cast in Patricia Quinn as Magenta and Little Nell as Columbia. The two of them certainly stand out and I certainly had my eye on Columbia a few times when I watched this film at the tender age of fourteen (at my grandmother’s house actually, do with that what you will). She seems to make sure that her boobs pop out on screen whenever possible, particularly during the Floor Show number.

The songs in this film are...unique you might say. I’ve never been much of a Glam Rock fan so I’m just taking everyone’s word for it that Glam Rock is the music for this film. Some of the songs are good and some of them aren’t since it is rare to find a musical where you enjoy all the songs. The most famous is of course “The Time Warp” which I can’t get enough of. Even my friends who hate the film still say they love that song. 
I would actually love to go the midnight shows just for the audience participation. Hell I remember being in a club on Halloween and this song came on, boy was it memorable. The other big song I love is “Hot Patootie” which is sung by Meat Loaf, as something of a one-scene-wonder. If I ever get the chance to be in a production of this, you can bet I’m going to be ruthless in trying to get the role of Eddie. For obvious reasons, I do enjoy Susan Sarandon’s “Touch-A-Touch-A-Touch-Me” song. It’s definitely one of the sexiest moments in film history and even fans who were more interested in Rocky will agree with me. The rest of them are either okay or not really worth mentioning though “Sweet Transvestite”, “Eddie” and “Floor Show” will find their way into your heads via ear worms.

Now as I said above, this film bombed at the box office. It’s understandable since the moral guardians and those conservative peeps (such as my friend’s mum who nearly had a nervous breakdown when the 9-year-old used the word “virgin”) wouldn’t be big fans of it. But it started to be screened in New York theatres at midnight and word began to spread about it before a large cult following gathered for the film. These days it’s still a big experience complete with audience participation, props and dressing up as the characters. I’d say it’s worth it to go to at least one midnight screening but I haven’t been yet, so I can’t really say what it’s like. As earlier stated, it holds the record for longest theatrical run since it’s still going strong. Feel free to give it a look and you will be very different after watching it. Now it’s just a jump to the left, and then let’s jump to the right while you follow me on Twitter and bring your knees in tight. Farewell, Transylvanians.

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