The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Director: Jim Sharman
Stars: Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick
Review by Brian M. Sammons
If you are around my age (let’s just call that thirty-something and leave it at that) or older then you should already know if this is a movie for you. You are either part of the cult of Rocky or you’re not. You either get it or you don’t and nothing I can write here will ever change that. So if you’re not a toast-chucking Rocky fan then go ahead and stop reading right … about … here.
If you’re still with me then I will either assume that you are a fan of this weird little movie or that you’ve never seen it. Perhaps you’re young enough to have only heard of it in passing and you a little curious. Well as Dr. Frank-N-Furter might say, there’s nothing wrong with being a little curious, but if you’re a virgin then your first time with this flick really should be a group affair, as in a theater packed with a bunch of line-reciting maniacs so you can get the full effect. If you’re already been there and done that then the real question of this review pops up and that is; can this movie work at home, on the small screen, without the wacky spectacle that goes along with a midnight viewing of this Picture Show? Well I’ll get to that in a bit, but first let’s get to the basics of this new Blu-ray released to celebrate this movie’s 35th anniversary.
First, the story. Two young lovers (Brad and Janet) fresh from a wedding (not theirs) are driving during the typical dark and stormy night when they get a flat tire. Luckily for them there’s a nearby castle with a light on. Going inside to use the phone the couple find a gathering of freaks and oddballs lead by Tim Curry in his most memorable role as the sweet transvestite mad doctor, Frank-N-Furter. These Transylvanians have gathered for a special night when the bad mad doctor is about to unveil his greatest creation; a perfect blond, muscled man named Rocky to help him with his, uh, tension. Will poor Janet and Brad survive this party of kooks, perverts, and aliens with their love, sanity, and good moral fiber intact? Well, most likely not, but at least there will be singing. Lots and lots of singing. Oh, did I forget to mention this movie is a musical with some truly memorable, and truly odd, numbers? Well it is and it is those songs that are the real draw here, otherwise Trhps is just a very strange movie with very strange people doing very, very strange things.
Wait, let me check that. Sorry but no, the real strength of this movie, and why it’s still alive and loved today by so many is the theater experience. If it wasn’t for that, this film would have been a weird, amusing footnote at best and quickly forgotten. You know, like its sequel, Shock Treatment was. So if that is the case, how does this movie translate to your home where chances are you won’t watch it with eighty or so weirdoes in full custom, reciting lines, singing, dancing, and throwing stuff at the screen? That has always been the question and one that previous DVD editions have failed to answer adequately. Luckily this Blu-ray goes a long way to solving that transfer problem. How so, you may ask. The goodies, man, the tons and tons of goodies.
This is one well put together beauty. First of all, it’s a digibook and I just love those. In between the glossy hard covers is a 26 page booklet packed with full color photos from the cast in full regalia. As for the Blu-ray it is stuffed with extras, including bells and whistles and a good heaping helping of kitchen sink besides. There are two versions of the movie, one from the UK and another from the US, oh and both have an optional black and white intro. If you want to practice for your next midnight screening then there’s “Rocky-oke” where you can sing along with the songs from the film. The usual commentary track is present as is a featurette on Mick Rock, a photographer famous for his Rocky pics and yes, his photos get their own gallery. I could go on and on with all the extras as there are quiet literally a closet full that clock up hours of bonus material for the faithful cultist of the biggest cult classic to enjoy. But there is one extra feature that I do want to pay special attention to.
“The Midnight Experience” is a four-in-one way to watch the movie with a trivia track and a call back track where audience members from all over the world give their favorite lines from and at the movie. If you want something in your hands while you watch but don’t want to trash your own house there are virtual props so you can toss a digital toast, prunes, and rice at the screen. Lastly there’s a picture in picture version with fans acting out the movie for your added enjoyment. You can even watch the fan performers in fullscreen and forget the real movie entirely. Now if you have all four of these options running at the same time, the screen can get a bit cluttered, but it does give you some idea of what the infamous midnight shows are like.
So if you’re a huge fan of the Rocky Horror Picture Show and want to watch this film in the privacy of your own home … then I say you’re not really a fan. But hey, maybe that’s just me. Seriously this is easily the best version of this movie available. That should be reason enough for you to get it. Well, unless you hate fun. You don’t hate fun … do you?