Shock Treatment - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Shock Treatment Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 1, 2012
A young married couple end up in a city that's actually a giant running television network in this confusing sorta-sequel to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW; Janet is groomed as a celebrity while Brad becomes a mental patient in a hospital show. It misfires on the comedy and music cylinders; sets and costumes are entertaining, though. Imagine a version of RHPS without Tim Curry; not a terribly appetizing prospect, is it?
Daniel Mumby
Super Reviewer
½ June 19, 2011
The only thing more foolish than remaking a cult film is making a sequel to one. This idea becomes worse still when that cult film happens to be The Rocky Horror Picture Show: no matter how many of the original cast return, it wouldn't be humanly possible for lightning to strike twice. For all its initial promise and moments of hilarity, Shock Treatment is a failure both as a sequel and in its own right.

Shock Treatment could be called the middle instalment of an unfinished Rocky Horror trilogy. The unproduced third instalment, Revenge of the Old Queen, would have been set on the planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania, with Frank N. Furter's mother (the Old Queen of the title) seeking revenge on Richard O'Brien's Riff Raff. While Brad Majors has become a Las Vegas go-go dancer and died from falling off a trapeze, Janet has become a mother through her night of passion with Frank in the first film, and brings their new-born child to this strange and twisted planet.

Neither Shock Treatment nor Revenge of the Old Queen are direct sequels, retaining much of the same cast but playing different roles. Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn are still playing brother and sister, with Riff Raff and Magenta becoming Doctors Cosmo and Nation McKinley. Nell Campbell trades in Columbia for Nurse Ansalong, and Charles Gray's Criminologist becomes Judge Oliver Wright. They are joined by Barry Humphries, playing a Dr. Strangelove knock-off called Bert Schnick, and a pre-Young Ones Rik Mayall as 'Rest Home' Ricky. And in classic B-movie fashion, the main characters from the first film are played by different actors, with Cliff De Young taking over as Brad and Janet being played by Suspiria star Jessica Harper.

Shock Treatment does attempt to tackle a number of interesting ideas surrounding the nature of television, using musical conventions to raise serious questions in a light-hearted way. To some extent it is about how advertising has come to dominate television and influence its content at the expense of serious programming. This is shown in Charles Gray's first scene, in which almost every word of his 'interview' is talked over by promo people and his disinterested host, played by Ruby Wax.

The look of Shock Treatment is deliberately tacky and plastic. Everything within the TV station looks like an advert, with fake pinball smiles, garish 1950s colours and women who all resemble either air hostesses or fashion models. One song is set in a gallery of all the clichés of the American dream - the white picket fence, the perfectly sheared hedge and the man with his lawnmower. And there is the association of fast food consumption with being sane, which resembles a non-ironic mix of Monty Python's Appeal for Sanity with the New Seekers adverts for Coke.

There is also an undercurrent in Shock Treatment about reality television. The population of Denton have given up their lives to become the permanent studio audience of this 24-hour TV station. Their entire existence is based around watching the lives of others, observing and obsessing over every last detail of relationships. The nature of the TV programmes such as Dentonvale reflect this voyeuristic desire; characters are committed to the asylum so that people can watch them go to pieces, all for the sake of entertainment.

Sadly, all these interesting ideas end up getting lost as the film moves on. For all the subversive intelligence of O'Brien's ideas, his script and songs cannot convey them in a way which is meaningful, coherent or narratively sound. The result is a total mess which resembles channel surfing through a mixture of MTV and late-night game shows.

The first and biggest problem with Shock Treatment is its story. In the case of Rocky Horror, the plot was assembled from different bits of B-movies and pushed forward by the songs: the familiarity of the references always gave you some idea of where it was going, or at least that it was going somewhere. Shock Treatment doesn't have those traditions to fall back on, and its existing plot is far too thin to stand on its own.

Because the central story is so simple (Brad and Janet fall out, split and get back together), the film has to keep chucking different things into the mix to appear more sophisticated, until staying on top of it becomes as difficult as herding cats. There are too many characters on whom to focus, with both Rik Mayall and Nell Campbell being largely superfluous, and the rest are barely developed beyond suggestions of odd sexual preferences. In any case, the idea of real people being caught up in a lethal TV game show was handled better in The Running Man six years later.

A related problem is that there is no strong central performance. In Rocky Horror, Tim Curry stole every scene that he was in, so that even if what was going on made no sense at all, there was a magnetism in the finished product which kept you interested. There is no such tent-pole in Shock Treatment: Cliff De Young is no Tim Curry, and he doesn't get enough screen time in either of his roles to build himself up. There is also no narrator who can come in to steer the ship: Charles Gray is shoved into the background and becomes a subplot with little bearing on events until the trite final revelation surrounding Brad and Farley.

When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 came out, Kim Newman wrote that it seemed to have been directed by someone who not only didn't make the first film, but who never actually saw it. And for all the good work that Jim Sharman did on Rocky Horror, there is a similar feeling with this film. Despite its deliberately tacky edges and madcap colour schemes, there is precious little of Rocky Horror's distinctive style remaining here. In fact, with all its 1980s fashion and emphasis on glamour, it begins to feel like a series of videos for The Human League or Michael Jackson.

Then there are the musical numbers to worry about. The cast sing well enough, especially Jessica Harper in her musical debut. And there are one or two tracks which pass muster: the title track is catchy and 'Bitchin' In The Kitchen' is quite witty in combining marital frustration with household appliances. But the rest are just plain forgettable, with none of the syllable-stretching wit of O'Brien's earlier work. 'Little Black Dress' feels like an off-cut from Grease (and not in a good way), while 'Thank God I'm A Man' finds O'Brien ripping off Frank N. Furter's song from the first film.

Worst of all, Shock Treatment is really quite dull. The cast clearly had a ball making it, but next to none of that fun rubs off on the people watching it. The story is too incoherent, the characters too uninvolvingly madcap, and after a while the deliberately plastic conversations between the presenters and audience becomes repetitive and tiresome. Even the prospect of Charles Gray singing and dancing - one of the highlights of the first film - isn't enough to rouse us: the sight of it just makes us wish that such an entertaining actor hadn't been so obviously wasted.

Shock Treatment is a deeply disappointing misfire from Sharman and O'Brien. It was never going to match Rocky Horror on any level, and the creators deserve some credit for wanting to make something that could stand on its own and have something to say. But in the end all their efforts are in vain, with all that was magical and distinctive about Rocky Horror being mostly absent this time around. You won't need treatment after watching it, but to quote Rocky himself, it's a pretty big downer.
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2010
This movie was just a bad idea, the Rocky Horror Picture Show did not need a sequel, it stood alone. Of course, it's not a horrible movie, it has some funny scenes, but it's no where near as good as the original.
Super Reviewer
½ March 17, 2008
A movie from the creators of the Rocky Horror Picture Show that was flushed down the toilet in 1980 and forgotten by people outside the RHPS community. The amazing thing is that this film was 20 years ahead of its time when you compare its premise to what television has become in the last decade.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2007
Supposedly a sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but without Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Richard O'Brien or -- GOD FORBID --Tim Curry, what's the point?
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2007
Great musical numbers! The story was too smart for most people - I didn't understand what it was all about. I figured it was a satire about reality television and media commercialism. I just didn't understand what the heck was going on. Nice set design though.

Favorite Songs: Denton USA & Look What I Did to my Id
Super Reviewer
½ November 30, 2014
"The sun never sets on those who ride into it." The little known sequel to Rocky Horror, Shock Treatment, is a bit of an acquired taste but has its own sort of charm. When Brad and Janet Majors' marriage hits a rough patch they go onto a game show where Brad gets committed to an asylum and Janet gets swept up by the glitz and glamour of television. Most of Rocky Horror's main cast returns, including Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, and Charles Gray, but they're playing different characters. Jessica Harper takes on the role of Janet, and really shines; bringing a lot of charisma to the part. And, O'Brien's songs are energetic and quite catchy, featuring a variety of musical styles. However, the story is rather weak and the pacing is too fast. Also, the satire about television culture is overly broad and unfocused. It's a bit of a mess, but there's still plenty of fun to be had with Shock Treatment.
Super Reviewer
June 14, 2008
This movie just plain blows.
½ May 22, 2010
I really wanted this to be better than I'd heard it was, but I just couldn't get into it very much.

My mistake may've been watching Rocky Horror Picture Show immediately before popping this one in, so I may've judged more harshly than I needed to on the back of something that I have so much enthusiasm for.

Maybe okay for a rental curiosity, but I have a twinge of buyer's remorse on this one, though I think it might've been a gift.

Rental? Just to be safe?
½ January 11, 2013
Talk about an unworthy followup to Rocky Horror. While not quite having its moments, Shock Treatment is only interesting because it has Richard O'Brien, Charles Gray,Nell Campbell(my fave and she is hot as a nurse), and Patricia Quinn. Where Rocky Horror is totally classic and seemingly breakthrough, this just falls on its face. Something about a game show involving newlywed couples. Good thing Tim Curry and Susan Sarandon steered clear of this mess. Some people think that this is cultish in its own right, I don't. Shock Treatment should only be seen just to see how the Rocky Horror magic was not carried over for another go.
July 29, 2012
I find Rocky Horror and its lesser-known counterpart Shock Treatment to be huge statements on the world we live in, except it displays the similar themes in exact opposite ways of each other and in different realities altogether (so stop labelling it a sequel because it most certainly isn't. You have to separate them completely). I enjoyed the minor details, like how Brad and Janet's roles in their relationship are exactly flipped, and the nod to Magenta and RiffRaff that Cosmo and Nation give, as two actors who are in a romantic relationship together off-set and play siblings on-set. Shock Treatment which is a more serious film in appearance makes the same statements about individuality except in reverse. It shows us this perfect yet extremely literal version of the world we live in today, filmed 30 years in the past, where EVERYTHING is centered around the media and television. Knowing that, Shock Treatment would probably have done 10 times better if it wasn't connected to Rocky Horror and it was released a decade or two later with updated everything. Sometimes it's even incredibly difficult to figure out what is a television program and what is the reality of what is happening. Sometimes it's both. The more I watched it, the more I noticed surrounding this concept. Honestly, by the time I watched this film during my obsession with Rocky Horror I found the music from Shock Treatment to actually be better, yet both enjoyable in their own ways.
½ May 2, 2011
This movie was absolutely HORRIBLE! I can't for the life of me understand why anyone thought this was a good idea. How could the creators have such a hit with Rocky Horror Picture Show and such a miss with this junk??
July 11, 2010
the sequel 2 Rocky Horror Picture Show isn't really a sequel but has many of the same people also written by Richard O'Brien and is good on its ow
Super Reviewer
½ October 18, 2009
Just as bad as The Rocky Horror Picture Show.After watching this movie for 10 minutes I couldnt watch it anymore & had to turn it off
½ September 7, 2008
They tried to make a sequel to Rocky Horror Picture show, and failed to deliver, there's no point in watching this. They don't even use all the same actors.
October 1, 2008
sure its nothing like rocky horror but who cares?! its still fucking great in so many ways the music is just wonderfull and it was so ahead of its time its insane with realality tv its about 20 or so years ahead of its time just prooves how smart richard obriean is! i listen to the music from this film every day!
½ June 16, 2008
The music is so-so, the story is so bizzare it makes no sense AT ALL! Not even in the same league as "Rocky Horror". It's pretty awful...
½ March 27, 2008
it was ok.. still Rocky Horror is better... i didnt like the movie that much but i did like the song even though they werent that great i like different things compared 2 other people.. so yeah
January 9, 2008
fucking awsome shit man...i mean yes rocky horror is a classic but fuck man this movie just rules in diffrent ways just fucking fun and the music is as always with richard obrian....genius... i still go around singing the title song or bitchen in the kitchen just...AWSOME
November 4, 2007
It's the sequal to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and by my standards of sequals, this is one of the better ones.
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