Rocky Horror Picture Show, The
Reviewed by Russell Tharp
Rating: 6.5 Beans
ohn Glenn was launched into orbit today on the space shuttle Discovery, and the whirl of misty-eyed nostalgia that surrounded his return to space made me a little nostalgic for my own past, so I rented The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I can only hope that Glenn's mission fares better than mine.
I remember seeing Rocky Horror for the first time when I was 17 years old. It was playing at midnight in the local arthouse, and my friends and I prepared by launching our brains on a cloud of pot smoke into a geosynchronous orbit at roughly the altitude of Glenn's shuttle flight. We were "virgins," so we went empty-handed to the theater. Only later did we return with bagfuls of props; water pistols, newspapers, toast, rice, lighters, etc. But we had a blast that first night. And all the other weekends when the mood would strike us to schlep on down to the theater at midnight and join in the celebration of the world's first audience-participation movie. We learned our lines, we remembered our props and our cues, and we laughed like drunken hyenas. I even wished that I lived closer to a "cool" city like New York so I could see the movie with folks who dressed up as the characters and acted out the movie in front of the screen. Oddly, never once do I recall noticing that the movie sucked raw eggs. I guess we were too distracted.
A musical without a plot isn't necessarily a bad thing. I think a coherent plot could only have hurt this particular movie, but I'll try to recount what little there was. Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) are the world's nerdiest couple. On their way home from a wedding, they get a flat tire and decide to seek help at the castle of Dr. Frank N Furter (Tim Curry), a cross-dressing bisexual mad scientist who is attempting to build the perfect man out of what appears to be bandages and food coloring. Brad and Janet are alternately menaced and seduced by Frank, somewhere along the way singer Meatloaf appears for no readily apparent reason and is killed by Frank for same, and Brad's old mentor Dr. Scott arrives at the castle to try to save the day. Eventually Riff-Raff the butler and Magenta the maid reveal (in song) that they are all aliens, they execute Frank for his mission's failure ("your lifestyle's too extreme," they sing, in probably the biggest understatement I've ever heard), and the whole castle launches itself into space, leaving Brad and Janet a bit more experienced, but certainly no smarter.
Watching this movie on your television in your living room is a much different experience than watching it in a theater full of half-crazed Rocky Horror fans. In spite of a few catchy songs ("Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite" for example), without the audience to shout out its lines at the proper moments, shower you with rice at the wedding, sprinkle water on your head in the rain storm, or pelt you with slices of toast when Frank says, "A toast!", Rocky Horror is simply dull and rather annoying. Unless you live in a "cool" city where you can still see it with an audience of lunatics, I'd steer clear of this one.
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