Well, Iâ€™ve finally hit my 100th Review on It Came from the Drive In.
Iâ€™ve reviewed plenty of Slashers, Musicals, Campy films, and B-Movies throughout the course of this blog so far, but thereâ€™s been one Iâ€™ve wanted to look at that Iâ€™ve been saving for a very special occasion. Something Campy, Something Musical, and Something thatâ€™s often considered a Cult Classic.
Iâ€™ll started off by giving you some history about the filmâ€™s origin.
The idea for the film started back in the early â€˜70s with an actor named Richard Oâ€™ Brien who wanted to combine the ideas of Unintentionally Funny B-Movies, Steve Reeves Muscle Movies, Pretentious Dialogue of Schlock Horror, and Rock and Roll of the â€˜50s all together. The result of it was a little play that got commercial and critical success when it premiered in 1973. The original play director and producer Jim Sharman, Richard Oâ€™ Brien, and the majority of the original Cast and Crew of the play decided to make a film version of it which was released upon the world Two Years Later that was met with not as much success but it eventually grew bigger and bigger as the years rolled by and will always be shown at Midnight Movies, especially around Halloween.
Soâ€¦Whatâ€™s the film?
Yep. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The movie that’s virtually loved and remembered as one of the most Campy and well-remembered movies in Film History, and I’ve being waited for the right moment to review this movie. So to help celebrate my 100th ICFTDI Blog, I’ve gotten the help of Les to take part in the review with me.
LES: Hi The Creature. Congratulations on 100 reviews, and thanks for having me aboard for this one, my friend. Hi, Manic Fans. This film is an experience that used to be a midnight tradition back in the ’80s Fans would attend this show in costume and interact together with the film years before MST3K and Conventioning were dreamt up. To say it was(and IS) a cult classic, would be an understatement. It’s a film that plays on so many levels of awesome that we must stop and take a closer look at it.
The Creature: Indeed it is a film on so many levels of awesome and it does deserve a closer look. So, let’s get started and see what makes this movie so iconic.
As told to us by a Criminologist in a case known as “The Denton Affair”, The film tells of young couple Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Surandon) who have recently become engaged and have decided to go to their ex-tutor Dr. Scott to tell him the news, but are soon stuck when there tire blows out and they seek help from a nearby castle. Unaware that it will turn out be a night out they would never forget for a very long time…
Les: The great part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is that every character in it fits into a B-Movie stereotype role in some outrageous way, and then theyâ€™re thrown through the wringer of kinky sexuality in ways that challenge everything they stand for at the beginning of the picture.
Brad Majors is the quintessential â€œSquareâ€ Joe who is billed as â€œA Hero,â€ and does every thing he can to be above the degenerates and weirdos and do the proper thing as an all-American Schoolboy trying to be a man. Casting Barry Bostwick was an absolute slam dunk for the role. Quick to take offense, yet uncertain what to do about the bizarre situation he and Janet get themselves into. When he is coerced over the line itâ€™s amazing to see him struggle with feelings that are so foreign to his psyche that it reduces him to a little child.
Creature: He definitely carries the “square” aspect very easily and has it does get comical at times to see him over-react to the slightest change in anything.
Janet Weiss is the quientessential B-Movie starlett. She’s consistly fainting and seeking protecting from Brad. Although after Frank gets his hands on her, she has a sudden change in personally seeking to enhance her desires. Susan Surandon definitely plays her character extremely well.
Les: With a vengeance! She goes from â€œThereâ€™s a light..â€ to â€œToucha toucha touch meâ€¦I wanna be dirty!â€ Itâ€™s like a switch has been flicked with her libido. Susan Sarandon really sells it too.
Creature: Frank N. Furter is the mysterious and odd owner of the Castle to which Brad and Janet seek assistance. The Transvestite from Transexual Transylvania holds a convention to finally give life to his creation as well as have some fun with his new house guests in the process. Tim Curry absolutely steals the show with his performance is probably the actor who was obviously having a Grand Ol’ Time on screen, Enjoying every second of screentime he gets.
Les: Oh, without question. Tim Curry OWNS this role. He spends most of the film standing out and owning his outrageousness while he gets it on with everyone he can get his hands on. He also makes it clear that itâ€™s all about HIM!!!! and gets quite put out whenever anyone contradicts that. In any event, he brings the joie de vivire(SP?) to the film, and it wouldnâ€™t be the same without him.
Creature: Riff-Raff is Frank’s main servant. He helps in assisting Frank in Rocky’s creation and is willing to serve him, but also seems like he has another plan up his sleeve. Portrayed by Rocky Horror Creator Richard O Brien, he gave the performance like Ygor from the Bride of Frankenstein only being much taller and often sharing screen-time with Magenta.
Les: Heâ€™s something else. He exudes creepiness while being strangely likable. Thatâ€™s hard to do, my friends. Plus, that voiceâ€¦OMG! low and monotone one moment, and high and shrill the nextâ€¦and he can hit singing notes Iâ€™ll never touch, so I admire Richard Oâ€™ Brien for that.
Creature: Magenta is another one of Frank’s servants and is Riff-Raff’s sister. The two of them share the screen together throughout the film and it’s shown that the two have a rather…interesting relationship. Although she only gets a few lines here and there in the film, She does give her lines with lots of enthuiasm.
Les: And a considerable amount of volume. Whatever sheâ€™s doing, sheâ€™s got an air of dangerous about her that threatens to explodeâ€¦even if itâ€™s only to dance the â€œTime Warp.â€ You get a sense she took inspiration from Vampira, or Elvira.
Les: Columbia is a â€œgroupieâ€ extraordinaire. Played loud and flamboyantly by Little Nell, she exudes absolute and unrequited devotion towards the objects of her affection: Dr. Frankenfurter and Eddie. In many ways, I consider her to be the most tragic character in the whole film.
Creature: It is a bit sad she always got the short end of the stick over the course of the film. Even so, Little Nell gave the character her all in every scene she was in.
Les: Rocky Horror is Dr. Frank N. Furterâ€™s creation. Like the Frankenstein Monster, he is fully grown, but little more than a child since heâ€™s only just been â€œborn.â€ â€œBuiltâ€ as a muscle man with blonde hair and a tan, heâ€™s been bred as a playmate for Frankâ€™s debauchery. Between Frank and Janet, heâ€™s thrust so rapidly into developing sexuality heâ€™s like what might happen if you took an innocent boy and made him a male prostitute at the age of 9, despite his physical age being somewhere in his 20s. His emotions are overwrought and hair-triggered to respond. Peter Hinwood did a really good job conveying the youth of his character in the way he reacted to his life.
Creature: He’s definitely an odd character considering his muscle bond body that add to an infant like mentality as well as being able to sing perfectly well and can’t form regular sentences when he talks. Regardless of that little bit, Hinwood did a good job portraying Frank N Furter’s muscle bound and simple minded creation.
Eddie is an ex-delivery boy who pops in the film for only one scene. Coming out of Frank N Furter’s Freezer, Eddie sings his heart out about his love of Old Rock n Roll with his Saxophone and Motorcycle, but unfortunately gets taken out by Frank shortly afterwards. Meat Loaf definitely gave a great performance doing what he does best for the camera and singing, in my opinion, one of the film’s best songs. I do wish he got more screen time in the film.
Les: Eddie is a showcase for Meatloafâ€¦pure and simple. And he takes that 6 minute screen time and blows away everyone elseâ€¦which is probably why Frank takes a pickax to himâ€¦itâ€™s a damned shame. I wanted to see more of him.
Les: Dr. Everett Scott is the role of the B-Movie scientist who comes into the picture to explain the technical stuff to the heroes and attempt to fight the villains. Putting him in a wheelchair was a nice touch. Itâ€™s interesting to note, that in the floor show, heâ€™s able to move his legs, but I digress….
Creature:Â Dr. Scott is a perfect portray of any B-Movie scientist like Leo G. Caroll from Tarantula or Jason Evers from The Brain That Wouldnâ€™t Die, often explaining the science of Frank N Furterâ€™s intentions all while trying to find his nephew Eddie. I donâ€™t know why his legs work during the Floor Show, but it was a bit of an odd choice to go with for it.
Les: The Criminologist is essentially the narrator for the audience popping up again and again to make some of the funniest serious commentary that wouldnâ€™t be equalled until Leslie Nielsen matched it in 1980â€™s â€œAirplane!â€ Gloriously played by English actor Charles Gray, he walked us through the case of Brad, Janet, Dr. Scott and Eddie while taking us on their strange journey with his cigarette dangling in itâ€™s holder and his magnificent â€œofficialâ€ air and accent. He even pulled down a chart to show the audience how to do the â€œTime Warp!â€ When he jumped on the desk to dance, he quickly went to my top 20 greatest film supporting characters of all time list.
Creature: He definitely has a presence about him that is serious and it definitely helps make his dialogue all the more funnier. Plus, His dance on the desk is one of my personal favorite moments in the film.
Since the film serves as a tribute to the B-Movies of old, it contains many elements and bits of dialogue that you would find in them. You’ve got the muscle bound men you’d find in Steve Reeves movies, a Frankenstein-esque plot with horror movie elements as well as dialogue and some scenarios that come straight out of a ’50s Sci-Fi film, with the Pretentious dialgoue too. All of it adding up to a very loving tribute to some of the best of the cheesiest films out there.
Les: The symbolism and homages are quite evident to anyone familiar with kooky schlock science fiction/horror films of the 30â€™s, 40â€™s and 50â€™s. Just in the last 20 minutes, you getâ€¦..
Riff Raff and Magenta in Flash Gordon/Plan 9 from Outer Space costumes with Magenta sporting a Bride of Frankenstein hairdoâ€¦
Rocky Horror picking up a dead Frankenfurter like heâ€™s Fay Wray and climbing the RKO Tower recreating the final scenes of King Kong.
Riff Raff and Professor Scott sharing bits of dialogue right out of a Roger Corman film.
AND thatâ€™s just the last 20 minutes. Throughout the film thereâ€™s little subtle things that add up to the zaniness of the whole film. I LOVE how Brad and Janet have the radio on in the car and itâ€™s airing President Nixonâ€™s resignation speech after the Watergate scandal. The little things, like Frankenfurter floating on a TITANIC life preserver in the pool during the floor show, give you lots of things to discover as you watch the film over and over again, my friends.
Creature: Well Les, since you are the Music Expert of Manic Expression, I’ll let you handle the Songs.
LES: What can I say about the music of â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Show?â€ Well, I can make a comparison for a start. 2 movies of the 1970â€™s used rock nâ€™ roll styles of the 1950â€™s: â€œGreaseâ€ and â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Show.â€ Also, there were 2 major English Rock Groups of the 1960â€™s: The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Both of these pairings are considered the opposite sides of the musical coin. The Beatles were the cleaner and wholesome pop rock with enough edge to make an impact on pop culture, and The Rolling Stones were the bad boys who exuded sexual energy and produced harder music. Similarly, â€œGreaseâ€ was fun-spirited, wholesome pop music, whereas, â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Showâ€ was naughtier and harder music that didnâ€™t just exude sexual energy, but kinky sexual energy, which just makes it a far juicier treat for the senses as the music played and the images heightened the lyrics. Thereâ€™s also a comparison to be made in the ways both films incorporated 70â€™s music styling to enhance the 50â€™s sound. â€œGreaseâ€ added some tasty string sections in a definite Disco influence, and â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Showâ€ added harder guitars, choral singers and string sections in a definite Hard/Heavy Metal influence. So, while both soundtracks are brilliant, and enjoyable to listen to, â€œThe Rocky Horror Picture Showâ€ will have a stronger impact on you. The listening experience will fire you up, my friends.
The Creature: I couldn’t agree more. The Songs of Rocky Horror Picture Show are great and highly memorable carrying those sounds of the ’50s and ’70s rock and roll with songs like “Hot Patootie/Bless My Soul”, “Sweet Transvestite” and of course “The Time Warp”.
The Creature: One thing that definitely came up as a surprise for everyone, viewing audience and Film Crew, was how big the film became. It basically blew up and became a Midnight Movie sensation, One thing that definitely came up as a surprise for everyone, viewing audience and Film Crew, was how big the film became. It spawned a massive following and pretty much became one of the ultimate cult films that Spawned Shadow Casting, Audience participation, and the occasional Riffing that helped the film basically become the most massive underground hit since Plan 9 From Outer Space and is always something that Iâ€™d love to partake in.
Les: Oh, no question, my friend. This was a phenomenon I remember well. There was a theater near where I grew up that had the midnight Friday screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show for two straight decades(and probably wouldâ€™ve gone longer if the theater hadnâ€™t closed). Those who attended were as fanatical as any group I ever saw at a Star Trek convention-dressed up and knowing all the lines by heart. Participating along with the film gave a tremendous thrill that gave you a satisfying feeling of belonging to something very fun and special. Iâ€™m still waiting for something new to come along that has an effect nearly as amazing.
Les: The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a film that works on so many levels. Itâ€™s a great musical with memorable songs and well done sequences. Itâ€™s a fantastic spoof of B-movie science fiction/horror films with a huge dose of kink thrown in the make it even more fun to watch. Itâ€™s an amazing homage to schlock cinema classics before it that takes what was classic and makes a new classic out of it. The characters are great encompassing all the various clique roles in new and outrageous ways. All in all, itâ€™s a wild ride that makes you laugh one minute, sing the next, and go WHOA! after that. I highly recommend it, my friends. Peace.
The Creature: I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS MOVIE! It’s a great homage to the cheesy films of old with all the characters, pretentious dialogue, cliches and awesome songs to help match them as well as becoming an essential cult film classic for many genereations to come. It’s always a blast to watch time and time again and I will love it until the end of time.
(Thanks to Les for joining me on this review.)
Title Card by Jarvisrama99: Jarvisrama99.deviantart.com