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Two soon-to-be newlyweds, Brad and Janet, are returning from a friend's wedding when they get a flat tire in the rain. The two stumble up to a gothic castle where they are greeted by Riff Raff, who tells them they've arrived on a special night. It turns out their host and Riff Raff's master, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, is about to bring life to his latest lust-inspired creation. More singing and wackiness ensues.
If you've read my review of THE DR. JEKYL & MR. HYDE ROCK 'N ROLL MUSICAL, you know I'm not a big fan of musicals. The constant 'need' to sing about whatever the hell is going on, the lame plots, the actors/singers who shouldn't be singing/acting. The list goes on. ROCKY HORROR is an exception. Yes, it has much of what I don't like about musicals, but there's just something about it that, from a horror fan's point of view, you can't put down, even after 35 years.
I'm not going to bore you with the whole 'sexual revolution' thing that the film plays up, even if it is important. Let's just focus on the entertainment value for the moment, okay?
Obviously, the thing going for musicals is (what else?) the music. Instead of being the boring tripe that is loved only by people wishing for disco to come back, Rocky Horror Show's songs were fun little ditties that were catchy and memorable for being, well, fun. Of course, the various references to B-movie science fiction and horror films didn't hurt, either. That same fun and energy carried over into the film adaptation. From Tim Curry's rendition of "Sweet Transvestite" to everybody's favorite "Time Warp", it's easy to see why ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is still playing after all these years.
Also unlike MAMMA MIA!, the actors are able to put forth great performances in both singing and acting. Of course, it also helps that you have performers like Patricia Quinn, Richard O'Brien, Little Nell and Tim Curry reprising their stage roles in the film. Tim Curry stands out as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, doing the sneering and the gender-bending that we love him for. Think of him as David Bowie, minus the cocaine. Having Meat Loaf as Frank-N-Furter's botched sex slave Eddie was a nice treat, giving fans of FIGHT CLUB a preview of what the guy could do, acting-wise (plus my dad's a big Meat Loaf fan, so I have to mention him).
The film, despite it's cult status and significance, isn't perfect. Being a musical, the script takes a bit of a backseat to the musical numbers, which is more evident in the film's second half. Hard to believe, given that the film was a bit ridiculous to begin with. Also, Susan Sarandon isn't quite the Oscar winner yet with her acting, nor is she much in the singing department. Finally, despite after all these years, some folks just might not be comfortable with the whole idea of Brad and Janet being seduced by Frank-N-Furter, or the various sexual undertones.
Really though, it's all in good fun, which is what this movie is all about. ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is one that crosses over many genres and keeps folks drawn in. Whether it's the bizarre characters, the music or the whole concept itself, the film is a blast to watch, even after all these years. Let's do the Time Warp, again!
Video: Fox has given the film a brand new 1080p/AVC-encoded 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer which looks damn fine. There's also none of that DNR that Fox put PREDATOR through, either. Clarity and detail are top-notch, with strong colour and black levels. The one problem I did have with the transfer is the softness of the picture during the Criminologist's sequence, but that's a small thing. A+ job!
Audio: The Dolby Digital DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track is vastly superior from the film's original mono track. The music and effects have probably never sounded better. Naturally, you'd want something of this nature for a musical. Every instrument is given its space, and the culmination is a sound that envelopes the viewer entirely. The dialogue also sounds great, as well. Clear and without any distortion.
Prior to starting the film, the disc allows the user to choose to view the original US or UK versions of the film before taking them to the main menu page. The UK version, if you're wondering, includes the extra music number at the end of the film.
Play with Alternate Black and White Opening is just what it sounds like: the film starts off in black and white, but turns to colour.
First up is a commentary with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, who played Riff Raff and Magenta, respectively. The duo share memories of the film and their impressions of what they liked or disliked, and really just come across as very congenial and funny. A great listen.
Next up is The Midnight Experience, which aims to allow you to view the film as if you were in a theatre with other Rocky Horror fans. The four components can be enabled independently of each other, allowing you to customize your viewing experience. 'Trivia Track' plays pop-up trivia about the film, it's cast, and creators. 'Vintage Callback Track' allows you to join in the tradition of yelling lines back at the screen with the original 1983 Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Par-Tic-I-Pation track brought to you buy Fan Club president Sal Piro (read: subtitles that tell you what to yell). 'Prop Box' allows you to toggle through available props using the left and right keys on your remote, and by pressing enter to throw them at the screen. Finally, 'The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show' is a live shadowcast performance with Rocky Horror Picture Show cast members from around the globe.
Speaking of the shadowcast, The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast is basically American Idol, Rocky Horror style. Apparenyly, most theatrical showings of the film are accompanied by a "shadowcast" of audience participants acting out the story directly beneath the screen. For this Blu-ray edition of the film, Fox commissioned a special shadowcast, auditioning Rocky Horror fans from around the globe. In part one, 'Don't Dream It, Be It,' we get to watch the hopefuls in the try-out process. In part two, 'An-Tic-I-Pation,' original cast member Barry Bostwick comes in to judge the audition tapes.
Rocky-Oke: Sing It! is just what you think it is: during the film, karaoke lyrics appear to allow you to sing along. There's also the option to turn off the actors' vocals to prove how hardcore/drunk you are.
Mick Rock (A Photographer) is a little piece on the on-set photographer for the film, Mick Rock, who talks about the process of documenting the shoot. Likewise, Mick Rock's Picture Show features a self-playing gallery of Mick's best shots in 1080p.
The next section is A Few From the Vault, which includes a bunch of stuff. There are two deleted musical scenes: "Once in a While" and "Superheroes", eleven outtakes, an Alternate Credit Ending, a Misprint Ending, the retrospective documentary Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show, footage from the riotous Beacon Theater 10th Anniversary showing, the Time Warp Music Video from the 15th Anniversary VHS release, two theatrical trailers. There's also a user-directed pressbook gallery and poster gallery.
The disc also features Live Lookup via BD-Live and the IMDB.
To top things off, Fox has given us the digibook format, which has the Blu-Ray housed in the back of the book. The book itself consists of more of Mick Rock's pictures than anything else, but it's still pretty cool.
Overall, this is a pretty complete package for a 35-year old cult classic of a film. It would've been nice if some of the extras ported over from previous editions had gotten the HD upgrade, but that's a minor thing.
A great little midnight movie for fans of horror and B-movie alike, ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is probably the most fun you could have at a musical. This is definitely worth the upgrade to HD, and the extras from previous releases have been included, making the decision that much easier for fans.