Richard O Brien
ROCKY is about recently engaged couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), who get stuck in a rainstorm with a flat tire. Hoping to use a phone, they happen upon the castle of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), who along with his band of misfits, show Brad and Janet a thing or two about living the wild life.
SHOCK continues the adventures of Brad and Janet (now played by Cliff De Young and Jessica Harper), this time in the town of Denton, which has become a giant TV station (a place in which residents are either participants or viewers). After some recent marriage problems, Brad is imprisoned on the show "Dentonvale" (the local mental hospital), while Janet goes on to become a huge star.
While nothing quite replicates the feeling this movie brings when seeing it during one of those insanely fun midnight showings, this campy cult classic still retains plenty of what makes it great in the comfort of your home. Just be sure not to watch it with the volume low.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (from this point on to be referred to as "RHPS") takes a ridiculously simple (yet completely whacked out) premise, combines it with addictively awesome music and a fun collection of characters (Tim Curry playing a psycho alien tranny, anyone?), and then injects itself with a heavy dose of heroin. There you have it; the greatest film in the history of cinema. Ok, I'm exaggerating, but still - this movie is amazing. I could watch it three times in a row and still not be tired of it. Of course, it’s the outstanding musical numbers that make the rewatch value so high (I can't help but wanna dance around and sing whenever "Dammit Janet", "The Time Warp", and "Toucha Toucha Touch Me" come on). But the bizarre humor and extreme campiness certainly helps...as does a hot, young Susan Sarandon being half naked for most of the movie. Damn, she was one foxy lady.
No wonder this movie was thrashed by audiences and critics alike - it looks and feels nothing like RHPS. It isn't a bad movie, per se, but no way does it hold up to the likes of its predecessor. For one, Tim Curry is missing, and seeing as how he was the show-stealing leading man that helped to make RHPS what it is today, his absence is very noticeable here. Second, the actors who are now playing Brad and Janet are incredibly boring in their roles. Not only that, but Jessica Harper (who plays Janet) looks like a dude, which was really annoying considering how supposedly "beautiful" her character was referred to as being (it sounds like a small issue, but trust me, her looks play a big part in the story). On the more positive side of things, SHOCK TREATMENT has a great sense of style, as well as another great round of music to enjoy. It may not be as dance-inducingly infectious as the tunes in RHPS, but it still sounds ace.
This movie isn't nearly as silly and campy as ROCKY. It has a much more professionally made feel to it, and it shows through the very cool style (lots of strange-looking white rooms and backgrounds, with limited but vibrant color). It's also much more complicated than RHPS in its story, as it's not just trying to be a simple homage to things like "B"-science fiction films. Instead, it's an obvious satire of things like the U.S.'s obsession with television and celebrities (which were brought to light by the media, not the viewers), as well the artificial conservative Suburban life, entirely focused on image and product. It also works as a huge play on reality television, which just goes to show how ahead of its time SHOCK TREATMENT really was. Unfortunately, the movie loses a lot of what made RHPS fun by not having the central characters come back, and instead replaced Brad and Janet by two incredibly dull leads. Lucky for us the musical numbers are wonderful, or else that would be a pretty hard problem to overcome.
Also worth noting is that there are two releases of RHPS to chose from: the US and UK versions. The only difference is that the UK variation has an extra song, titled "Superheroes". This musical number is also available on the second disc.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show - DISC 1
Audio Commentary (with writer/actor Richard O'Brien and actress Patricia Quinn): A fun, interesting commentary that delves into both the stage production and film version of RHPS. They discuss on-set stories, the musical numbers, and anything else you may want to know. A very entertaining listen.
Multi-view Theatre Experience: This feature, along with the following two, allow you to recreate the insane midnight showing experience right in your living room. So to start off, you can press "enter" every time an icon appears on-screen during the film. This takes you to various footage of ROCKY HORROR fans doing what they do best during a showing of their favorite film.
Participation Prompter: This subtitle track gives new viewers the heads up on when to do things like throw rice, squirt your squirt guns, and put newspapers on your head.
Audience Participation: This audio track gives you the in-theatre experience while fans chat away in the background having a great time as they do things like recite made-up lines and shout at the screen. Especially cool about this feature is that the track plays into the rear channels, giving a nice encompassing feeling while watching the movie.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show - DISC 2
Deleted Musical Scenes (5:58): There are two of them (one of which is the song "Superheroes", which is the excised number from the US version). To be honest, I didn't find any interest in either of them. I'm glad they were cut.
Outtakes: There are 11 scenes. Unfortunately, these aren't the good kind of outtakes. Simply put, these are just different angles of various scenes in the movie.
Rocky on VH1: This section of the DVD is great, as it has a number of separately selected interviews with cast and crew members (such as Susan Sarandon, Richard O'Brien, Meat Loaf, Barry Bostwick, etc.), as well as the musical number “Hot Patootie” done in the style of MTV’s “Pop-up Videos”.
Documentary: Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show (35:57): An interview-filled documentary that details ROCKY HORROR's growth from a simple stage musical to a full-blown cult hit. Very interesting.
Also included is an Alternate Credit Ending, the Theatrical Trailers, a Misprint Ending, two Sing-A-Long scenes, and a Photo Gallery.
Commentary (with fan club presidents Mad Man Mike and Bill Brennan): While parts of this commentary have a little too much dead air, and some of things discussed aren't always interesting, there was one thing about it that I just loved - the references. The two speakers never forget to point out all the exceedingly cool hidden details that play into both ROCKY and now SHOCK. Very interesting.
DTV Presents: A Shockumentary (14:53): An interview-laden making-of featurette that lets the cast and crew go into detail about working on the film, its script, and the music. Worth a watch.
Let's Rock n' Roll: Shock Treatment's Super Score (6:00): Obviously, this featurette deals with the tunes from the film. It's pretty much more of the same from the previous making-of, except dealing less with the overall production of the film and more with the musical numbers.
Also included are the International & Theatrical Trailers.
SHOCK TREATMENT, on the other hand, doesn't accomplish this feat. It's not fitting at all to the ROCKY HORROR style, except for that it's over-the-top, filled with insanity, and has a bunch of musical numbers (great ones, I might add). Other than that, many people probably wouldn't even make a connection to RHPS... Still, as a non-RHPC-related satire (think of it as a spin-off, or a companion piece), the movie works, and is at least somewhat entertaining.
Overall, this 3-disc set is a great purchase. The special features are perfectly fitting, and the excellent tunes on SHOCK TREATMENT help make it worth owning alongside the amazing ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. Although, if you really don't like that idea, you can always buy the 25th Anniversary Editions of each movie separately.