The film adaptation of Richard O’Brien’s stage musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is one of the weirdest, campest films ever made; the longest running cinema release in history, still playing today; a loving parody of classic science fiction and horror; and some of the best fun you can have with any film.
The plot, such as it is, concerns newlyweds Brad Asshole Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Slut Weiss (Susan Sarandon), who, after getting caught with a flat tire, come to the mysterious mansion of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry) for help. Unfortunately for them, they have arrived on the night that Frank has chosen to unveil his latest creation, Rocky (Peter Hinwood).
But really, plot is not a concern here. Rocky Horror isn’t particularly bothered with telling a story, and far more interested in dressing up in a corset and stockings, and just having a good time. The role of Frank would come to pretty much define Tim Curry, and his sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania dominates every scene he’s in. He’s quite obviously insane, but even when he snaps and chases Meat Loaf around with an axe, the performance is so captivating that it’s very hard to dislike him. He spends most of the time lusting after various other characters, and ends up sleeping with quite a lot of them. He is spectacularly camp, as is the entire film, and it is glorious.
The songs are the real reason to be here, though, as evidenced by fact that midnight screenings at which people dress up and sing along are still going strong. From Tim Curry’s introductory song, Sweet Tranvestite, through the iconic Time Warp, all the way the brilliantly bonkers Floor Show which closes the film, it’s impossible to not get caught up in the fun and sing along. Oddly enough, the opening number, Science Fiction/ Double Feature sums up the film far better than the actual plot does, signalling the fact that Rocky Horror is, above all else, a love letter to classic science fiction and horror movies. References to old films are all over the place, from the obvious borrowing of the central premise from Universal’s Frankenstein, albeit with a monster who inspires lust, not fear; to the Transylvanians’ costumes being based on the old Flash Gordon serials; to the granddaddy of all movie monsters, King Kong. Some references will be familiar to everyone, others are a little more obscure, and the fact that Magenta’s final hairstyle is based on the Bride of Frankenstein is a particularly nice touch for horror fans.
Rocky Horror is pretty much the definitive cult film, certainly one of the first to inspire the kind of following which is associated with cult films; and, with all the references to classic Universal monster movies, it’s great for Halloween, especially if you’re in a silly mood. Honestly, there’s no reason not to see it, and it’s practically a rite of passage these days. If you haven’t seen it “ and even if you have “ put on a corset, get dressed up, and do the Time Warp again