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The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 3

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 362,128

My Rating

Movie Info

This low-budget freak show/cult classic/cultural institution concerns the misadventures of Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) inside a strange mansion that they come across on a rainy night. After the wholesome pair profess their love through an opening song, their car breaks down in the woods, and they seek refuge in a towering castle nearby. Greeting them at the door is a ghoulish butler named Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien), who introduces them to a bacchanalian

Oct 3, 2000

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All Critics (40) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (31) | Rotten (9) | DVD (22)

Most of the jokes that might have seemed jolly fun on stage now appear obvious and even flat. The sparkle's gone.

January 11, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety | Comments (3)
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The wit is too weak to sustain a film, and the songs all sound the same.

February 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comments (18)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A string of hummable songs gives it momentum, Gray's admirably straight-faced narrator holds it together, and a run on black lingerie takes care of almost everything else.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comment (1)
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Viewed on video simply as a movie, without the midnight sideshow, it's cheerful and silly, and kind of sweet, and forgettable.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (12)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

a lot of fun for fans of the science fiction and horror genres

January 18, 2014 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

One hundred minutes of pure queer celebration that manages to concoct a bizarre cocktail of sincerity and reckless abandon.

October 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

It's like art-rockers Roxy Music let loose on Frankenstein - ludicrous, but oddly compelling. And it even stars Meat Loaf.

October 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Total Film
Total Film

A great midnight movie experience in the theaters, but the film itself is a bit of a bore.

October 30, 2010 Full Review Source: IGN DVD | Comment (1)
IGN DVD

Like the hugely successful B-Movie that inspired it, Harry Novak's 1965 sexploitation classic "Kiss Me Quick!" "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is an exploitation film that draws on a grab-bag of social identifiers to expand on conventional hypocrisies...

April 12, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

The film itself is a lot of fun -- but the audience-participation phenomenon has turned it into a one-of-a-kind cinematic experience.

January 11, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Best seen with wild crowd at midnight. Otherwise, nope.

May 4, 2006
Video-Reviewmaster.com

If that's your kind of movie, you're in for a real treat.

August 18, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of the greatest motion pictures ever made.

March 1, 2005 Full Review Source: ▄berCinÚ | Comments (3)
▄berCinÚ

A very good film in its own right; it's a triumph of clever filmmaking by Jim Sharman, who should have gone on to bigger things.

September 29, 2004 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

I'm betting most fans have never really watched the film, they being distracted by the parade of guys in fishnets and flying toast.

January 18, 2004 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com | Comments (8)
TheMovieReport.com

Strange, unique, and one-of-a-kind... provided you see it under the right conditions.

August 10, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

Great music, over the top acting, extremely original. Without a doubt a one of a kind.

August 2, 2002 Full Review Source: sbs.is

Love it or hate it, this is a trip you're likely never going to forget.

July 25, 2001 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Oh, the horror!

July 25, 2001 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

a dizzying experience, made all the more so if you are lucky enough to see it in a theater with a crowd who knows all the lyrics, dance moves, and proper audience responses to yell back at the screen

February 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

Audience Reviews for The Rocky Horror Picture Show

This is THE film that comes to mind when people talk about cult classics and 'midnight movies'. It's also quite possibly the weirdest musical I have ever seen, and I was completely sober, too.

What we get here is a campy, schlocky ode to campy and schlocky sci-fi and horror fare, done as a gloriously cheesy rock and roll musical joyride.

The plot it really bare bones, and doesn't really make a whole lot of sense or really have much of a point, but that's besides the point. What makes this so fun, memorable, and popular is that it is just so odd, random, and ridiculous, and it's just damn near impossible to not find something to enjoy here.

What bare plot there is concerns newlyweds Brad and Janet who, after having car trouble during a storm, seek shelter/assistance at a gothic castle filled with a bunch of delightfully odd weirdos, with the man in charge being a transvestite mad scientist who claims to be from another planet, and who is in the process of creating his own version of the Frankenstein story.

This is not a film for all tastes, but I think it is one of those movies that everyone should still see, at least once. The music is really awesome, catchy, and fun, the performances are also just a scream, especially Tim Curry in his signature role as the transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I'm a fan of redheads, and in this film we get two of them, both lovely in their own way, whether it's the curly longhaired variety of Patricia Quinn as Magenta, or, my favorite, the super short, straight, and flat locks of Little Nell Campbell as Columbia...MEOW! This film also has a rockin' turn from Meatloaf, as well as Susan Sarandon at her flat out sexiest and most bangable.

The film is a great ode to sci-fi and horror, and the set designs, costumes, and art direction reflect this, bringing together a mix of the gothic, with the kinky, and the delightfully tacky camp side of life.

If you want to have a good time, and really crave something wild and outrageous, then you must give this a watch. Seeing it at a public viewing is the preferred way to do it, but not if you haven't already seen it before. So yeah, watch it at home if you're a newbie, then go join the masses so you can really appreciate the love people have for this one.
October 31, 2013
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Even smiling will make your face ache.

Full review coming to themoviefreakblog.com on 6/1
May 27, 2013
spielberg00

Super Reviewer

One of the strangest phenomena in movie history, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and what viewers get out of it are almost completely dependent on the context in which they see the film rather than the film itself. Why this movie in particular became the cultural oddity it did is a fascinating mystery, but perhaps it fits that a movie that at its core is seemingly meaningless and weird, but actually full of messages, would turn out to be something more than it started out as. As it stands, "Rocky Horror" succeeds as a film because of its charming lack of inhibitions, Tim Curry's captivating performance, and the insane, mesmerizing collision between hidden ambition, low-budget production value, and randomness.
December 9, 2012
Sam Barnett

Super Reviewer

Film critics spend a sizable part of their careers trying to convince people to judge films on deeper grounds than whether or not they are fun. But every so often a film comes along which defies all their holier-than-thou criteria, a film which laughs in the face of criticism itself. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of these films, and seeing it as 'just a bit of fun' is the only way to approach it.

If you go into Rocky Horror wanting to analyse deep-seated themes, or unpick the dialogue to reveal some ecstatic truth, you'll sit through the whole thing either frustrated or bored and come out completely po-faced having not got the joke. If you go in looking to spot all the B-movie references, you'll enjoy it a little more, although you will look every bit as geeky as Quentin Tarantino. The only way one can really experience Rocky Horror is to take the film's advice and "give yourself over to absolute pleasure": sit back, open your mind and let the Time Warp do the rest.

Like all the best cult films, Rocky Horror commercially underperformed when first released. And in hindsight it's not hard to see why. Much like its contemporaries (Night of the Living Dead, Pink Flamingos, El Topo and Eraserhead) it is very hard to sit through Rocky Horror in complete comfort the first time round. Part of this is intentional: several scenes are scary and the visuals are striking enough to send the uninitiated reeling. But equally there are things about Rocky Horror which (at least now) don't quite hang together or work as well as one would want.

Richard O'Brien (who also stars as Riff Raff) conceived the stage show as a love letter to old sci-fi and horror B-movies; he described it as a means to relive childhood memories of Frankenstein and Nosferatu, and escape from the reality of being out of work. True to form, the opening song pays lip service to a host of old movies, from the original versions of Flash Gordon and The Day The Earth Stood Still to more campy fare like The Invisible Man, Night of the Demon, and It Came From Outer Space.

The film plays out like a jumble-sale of B-movie plots, restaged with maximum camp value and more than a little affection. The creation of Rocky is a witty riff on Frankenstein; the monster remains largely mute and afraid of fire, but the master designs him as a source of pleasure rather than a means to make humans immortal. There are clear hints of King Kong in the final third, as Frank N. Furter wonders "Whatever happened to Fay Wray?" and Rocky dies from falling off the RKO Tower. The Hammer stable also runs right through Rocky Horror, solidified by the casting of Charles Gray in his most enjoyable performance since The Devil Rides Out.

But by far the biggest influence on Rocky Horror is The Wizard of Oz, something which O'Brien readily acknowledges. The film was originally intended to be filmed in black-and-white right up until Frank N. Furter's entrance, to mimic Dorothy's journey from Kansas. Moreover, the central story of Brad and Janet is one of innocent, pure individuals being whisked off against their will to a world they don't understand - and like Dorothy, they have to deal with many evils in their desperate bid to get home.

While it retains many aspects of the L. Frank Baum story, Rocky Horror subverts or departs from key elements in a way which reveals its deeper message (if it has such a thing). While Oz has a cop-out ending where everything returns to normal, the lives of Brad and Janet are shattered forever; there is no going back to their previous lives of whitewashed churches and pastel dresses. Likewise Dorothy retains her purity or innocence throughout, while both Brad and Janet give in to temptation and find out that they actually quite enjoy it. The final song is a duet between the conflicting desires of Barry Bostwick's 'bleeding' heart and Susan Sarandon's promiscuity. One could almost liken the final scene to a sexualised restaging of the Fall, with Charles Gray looking on as a God who is criminally disappointed in his "insects".

Rocky Horror has been hailed as many things in its lifetime, from a call for sexual liberation to some sort of Brechtian challenge to the role of an audience. Most of these accolades have an ounce of credibility but were not the intention of the filmmakers; no-one ever planned that audiences would start dressing up as the characters or talking back to the screen. Its sexual politics are incredibly liberal, with the message being one of accepting each other's identities and preferences rather than encouraging the 1970s equivalent of 'free love'. To suggest that Rocky Horror is a non-ironic advert for sexual promiscuity is to foolishly ignore the film's more sophisticated side.

If Rocky Horror were simply a vehicle to convince people to dress up in fishnets and give in to lust, far less effort would have been expended on the dialogue and the characters. O'Brien's script is witty and in-your-face, and Tim Curry chews his way through every line with relish and panache. The character of Frank N. Furter is much more complex and unpredictable than one might assume; he is not just a mad scientist posing as a drag queen, or indeed vice versa. Like the story he inhabits, he flits from one aspect to another - he is equal parts bawling child, narcissistic drama queen, sexual sadist and English gentleman, and it remains Tim Curry's finest performance.

It's very hard to pin down exactly what makes Rocky Horror such a hoot to watch. Some of it is inthe songs, which are brilliantly written with syllable-stretching humour. Some of it is in the action scenes, from Meatloaf riding indoors on his motorbike to Dr. Scott's wheelchair becoming magnetised. But most of it comes from the knowledge that the film doesn't really care what you think, and that the cast were having a ball. Seeing Gray dance the Time Warp on a table is one of the best comedy moments of the 1970s.

Inevitably, there are things about Rocky Horror which don't work, at least not anymore. In the final third the songs become more medley-based and the plot steadily peters out. Although the ending itself is befitting, there is a lot of filler in the floor show before we get there. This may be intentional, since cabaret shows are not known for being speedy affairs. But there is a still a sense of the film dragging and getting caught up in its own indulgences, particularly in the lengthy dance sequences.

Because the plot is so much of a jumble, the film is incredibly uneven, with regard to the level of humour or horror on offer. Some scenes remain funny, others are scary, but others still seem incongruous or unnecessary. Janet's encounter with the monster ('Touch Me') is toe-curling, and the increasingly campy tone can become tiresome. Because everything is so full-on and over-the-top, there will always be some people who won't put up with all the non-sequiturs. In its darker moments the film wobbles as the desire to laugh begins to falter, and no amount of singing is going to bring those people back.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is trashy cinema at its most enjoyable. The story may be silly beyond belief and the acting is intentionally hammy, but the music is great and the overall experience is enjoyable. The film has such alacrity, such a cheerful readiness to make you forget the outside world, that you can't help falling in love with it just that tiny little bit. It isn't by any stretch a masterpiece, or a particularly rounded work. But as a musical, cult film and watershed, its importance cannot be underestimated.
June 5, 2012
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

    1. Dr. Frank-N-Furter: That's a rather tender subject. Another slice, anyone?
    – Submitted by Justin R (25 days ago)
    1. Dr. Frank-N-Furter: Don't be upset...It was a mercy killing. He had a certain naive charm, but no muscle.
    – Submitted by Andrea V (5 months ago)
    1. Dr. Frank-N-Furter: I hope you're adaptable, Dr. Scott. I know Brad is.
    – Submitted by Lucas M (8 months ago)
    1. Janet Weiss: What have you done to Brad?
    2. Dr. Frank-N-Furter: Nothing. Why, do you think I should?
    – Submitted by Lucas M (8 months ago)
    1. Criminologist: It's a jump to the left!
    2. Transylvanian: And then a step to the right!
    – Submitted by Andrea F (8 months ago)
    1. Magenta: I'm lucky, he's lucky, we're all lucky!
    – Submitted by Adam O (14 months ago)
View all quotes (45)

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