THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW
Director: Jim Sharman
Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick
Tim Curry often reflects on his role as Frank-n-Furter in Rocky Horror rather witheringly, saying it was little more than “a lot of fun” that “gave him a start” on his Hollywood career. It’s false modesty at best, anyway, since Curry’s amazingly charismatic Frank-n-Furter is one of the most loved and imitated movie characters, and remains by far the career high-point for Curry, whose Hollywood career to date has included not a great deal more than solid roles in movies like Scary Movie 2 and Rugrats Go Wild.
The ultimate “midnight movie”, Rocky Horror has played continuously in cinemas around the world since its release in 1975. Uni students and Goths cram cinemas in Sydney, Rotterdam and Portland every Friday night to revel in this cult blockbuster, acting out their favorite scenes and throwing toilet paper and rice at the screen on cue.
Apart from Curry, it’s hard to see just what the attraction is. The trashy campness is over the top but so is the seedy, low-budget yuckiness and Rocky Horror starts to smell a bit off after the first twenty minutes or so. A comedy-horror musical along the lines of Little Shop Of Horrors, there’s one two many bloody killings and creepy geeks that start to overwhelm the otherwise light-hearted tone.
Plot: Brad (Barry Bostwick) and his fiancé Janet (Susan Sarandon) break down on a rainy night and seek refuge in a creepy looking mansion. Once inside, they encounter a partying crowd of freaks, Transylvanians, who’ve gathered for some kind of conference. After everyone dances the Time Warp, the master of the house descends in a creaky elevator. Dressed in lingerie and made up like Dracula, Frank-n-Furter is about to show his guests his great new experiment Rocky, a muscle-bound man he has created from scratch.
So far, so Frankenstein, except that Frank is a plummy-voiced bisexual beast from outer space, a polymorphous cross between Princess Anne and Prince. Frank seduces both Brad and Janet, kills a love rival who’s been imprisoned in a deep freeze (played by Meatloaf) with a pick, and tries to keep a tight leash on the energetic Rocky. Meanwhile, Frank’s disgruntled staff are planning a coup and a return to their home galaxy.
Some of the songs are pretty good – Time Warp enjoyed a run on the charts, and Sweet Transvestite rocks with Curry’s hearty delivery – but much of the rest are barely dinner-theatre standard. The movie tries to make as much fun as it can out of its z-grade plot and production values, but it ends up falling midway between tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth.
So everything comes down to Curry, and he’s never less than stupendous. It’s an lurid and remarkable performance that demonstrates an astute eye for the lewd and a real knack of diva.
How to make an entrance: