The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 British- American musical, comedy, horror, erotic film directed by Jim Sharman. The film is a parody or satirical tribute to the science fiction films and Horror B films of the late 1930’s through the early 1970’s. The screenplay was written by Sharman and Richard O'Brien based on the 1973 musical stage production, The Rocky Horror Show, music, book and lyrics were all done by Richard O'Brien. The film stars Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, Susan Sarandon as Janet Weiss the heroine, and Barry Bostwick as Brad Majors the hero. They are accompanied in the film along with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre and Belasco Theatre productions.
The film begins with the newly engaged couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss leaving a wedding of two of their friends. They later find themselves lost on a deserted road with a flat tire on a cold and rainy late November evening. Hoping to find someone with a telephone they can use, they decide to walk to a nearby castle where they encounter a group of very strange people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. Brad and Janet soon get swept up into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania.” Dr. Frank N. Furter’s staff includes a servant, Riff Raff, his sister and the house maid, Magenta, and a groupie of the good doctor, Columbia.
Later down in his lab, Dr. Frank N, Furter claims that he has discovered the secret to life itself. His creation, Rocky, is brought to life in front of everyone attending the convention and Brad and Janet. Everyone begins to celebrate, but the celebration gets interrupted by Eddie, who is an ex delivery boy, and Frank and Columbia’s ex-lover. The Doctor being jealous of Eddie kills him with and ice axe. He then takes Rocky to his bridal suite he has prepared for them. Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms for the night. Each one is visited by Dr. Frank N. Furter posing as Janet when visiting Brand and Brad when visiting Janet and seduced. Janet, upset at what has just happened leaves to find Brad. She sees him via a television monitor in bed with Dr. Frank N. Furter. She then sees Rocky hiding from Riff Raff who has been beating him. While tending to Rocky's wounds, Janet becomes very sexually intimate with Rocky. After discovering that his creation is missing, Frank returns to the lab with Brad and Riff Raff. There they discover that the castle has an intruder. It is Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet’s old high school science teacher. Dr. Everett Scott, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie
They all share an uncomfortable dinner together, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's mutilated remains. Frank captures everyone with the Sonic Transducer and forces them to perform a live cabaret floor show with Frank as the leader. Riff Raff and Magenta interrupt the performance, revealing themselves and Frank to be aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. They then announce a plan to return to their home world. In the process, they kill Columbia, Rocky, and Frank, who has failed his mission. They release Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott. They leave by lifting off in the castle itself which apparently was a UFO.
ThemesEditSexuality and Gender
When Janet and Brad first enter the castle they must strip down to their undergarments signifying the expelling of their prudish and innocent ways and embracing their new sexual desires which have never been experienced before. This is where sexuality first comes into play in the film. Dr. Frank N. Furter is a “sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania”/ scientist who brings to life his creation Rocky for his own sexual purposes. “I could show you my favorite obsession; I've been making a man with blonde hair and a tan. And he's good for relieving my tension.” However, rather than doing so out of a twisted God-complex like Victor Frankenstein in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Frank is out to satisfy his insatiable sex-drive We then find out that Columbia, Eddie and Dr. Frank N. Furter are all ex- lovers. Dr. Frank N. Furter next seduces the innocent Brad and Janet into sexual relations. Janet upset, but excited about this new found eroticism enters into sexual intercourse with the creature, Rocky. While singing about all the time she's wasted not having sex, she fantasizes about banging every resident of the castle. The entire film is filled with sexual references and innuendos.
Gender and gender stereotypes are also a reoccurring theme in the film. The story begins with a marriage, a normal, simple sequence of a couple leaving a church after the ceremony. Then when arriving at the castle we are introduced to Dr. Frank N. Furter. He is a transsexual that exhibits characteristics of both male and female in his identity. We then find out that he is bisexual having shared in intimate relationships with males, Brad and Eddie, and females, Columbia and Janet. Dr. Frank N. Furter physically portrays his feminine side in his appearance. Frank physically portrays a woman by wearing a black, sparkling, laced-up corset; black panties; fishnet stockings; five-inch heels; sparkling gloves; and always a strand of pearls. He also always has on a full face of makeup including bright red lipstick. His dominant presence reflects the male characteristics he embodies. Further identification of his male characteristics is seen in his sexual dominance over his lovers, he has several. The gender role of the mother is also portrayed by Dr. Frank N. Furter in the film. The role of the mother figure is challenged and questioned when he steps into the position. He is the one who brought Rocky into the world, he takes responsibility for his creation, and much like a mother would do for her child. Rocky’s naïve nature and childlike qualities put Dr. Frank N. Furter more into the motherly female role. For example, when Rocky is first born he runs around the laboratory interacting with all of the party guest as a child would. Dr. Frank N. Furter reacts by telling Rocky that the way he is acting is no way to behave on his first day out.
Reception and ImpactEdit
Numerous critics have found The Rocky Horror Picture Show to be thoroughly enjoyable because of its offbeat and bizarre qualities. The New York Times called it a "low-budget freak show/cult classic/cultural institution.” Rotten Tomatoes has given the film a rating of 78% on their website.
It has received several awards and nominations throughout its years on the screen. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA inducted the film into the hall of fame in 1980. It was nominated in 1976 for the Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Films, USA for the Golden Scroll. In 2001 DVD Exclusive Awards nominated the film for Best DVD Menu Design and Best DVD Overall Original Supplemental Material. In 2000 the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards nominated the film for best DVD of its 25th Anniversary Edition. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has had an enormous impact on society it has a huge cult following and is a cult phenomenon among many; which can only be described by the cultural phenomenon surrounding the large fan base of enthusiastic fans and active participants of the movie. The film is generally credited as being the best-known if not the first cinematic “midnight movie.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show gained popularity because of its fan participation more than anything else. There have been fans that will act out the entire movie and in many cases will act out the entire movie directly in front of the screen at a showing. These types of fans are almost always present at any showing of the film. Audience participation includes a variety of things. People jumping up to dance to the Time Warp along with the film and fans throwing toast, water, hot dogs, toilet paper, and rice during the appropriate times during the showing of the film are not things uncommonly seen in these showings. Fans often attend showings of the film in costume as the characters. Most interactive showings hand out such things like rice, water and newspapers. If it is your first time attending an interactive showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show many theaters will place a red “V” on your forehead to signify that you are a virgin viewer. And, from several miles surrounding these theaters you can hear “Asshole”, “Bitch”, and “Slut” being yelled as Brad and Janet come onto screen. This is what has made this film such a cult phenomenon.