ALWAYS KEEPING AN EYE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

JER'S TURN: ALL THAT IS..."THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW"

JER: Greetings CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT readers… my counterpart, JOHNNY CHAZZ, has been feeling ‘under the weather’ this week… so I am picking up the pen and sallying forth with this week’s final entry for our October Halloween/ Horror topics!

I wanted to put the final nail into the coffin this month by touching on something fun and cultish! My ghoulish delights made me look into my vault of creepies and crawlies to have but one movie crawl up to the surface to reveal itself… this month I focus my attentions to THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW!
Here is the original 1975 trailer!

Ebert & Siskel

The Soundtrack Album Cover
My curiosity and fascination with ROCKY HORROR started at approximately the age of 11 years old! I was a big fan of critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel’s PBS film review show “Sneak Previews” and I remember one episode was devoted to the growing cult phenomenon! The year had to have been 1981: the half hour focused on the music, clips from the movie and talks about the cult status and popularity amongst this low- budget flick. I had never heard of this ROCKY HORROR nor had its music or audience participation / cult building it had become. It was all very overwhelming to take in both the sights and sounds at that age. I was raised in a small town and wasn’t exposed to controversial or expressionistic art forms. Mind you, this was before internet and multi- channel cable or satellite television, so I had no idea of such sexual freedom of expression. I merely used “Sneak Previews” as a vehicle to keep myself updated of the latest films I needed to be schooled in. Without warning, songs like “Time Warp”, “Sweet Transvestite” and “I’m Coming Home” were just a few highlights I had seen on TV for the first time! Questions immediately flooded my naive mind...Why were men dressed as women? What was the purpose of the heavy make- up and scantily- clad costumes? What is a transvestite? I had to learn more about this…and learn I did!

Show Creator: O'Brien 
ORIGINS: Let’s ‘time warp” to the beginning: It was June 16, 1973 and writer Richard O’Brien debuts his musical play, THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, at London’s Royal Court Theatre Upstairs. The premise of the storyline is simple… it was a tribute to B- films, the conservative dress fashions of the 50’s and 60’s, bad science fiction movies and iconic famous monsters with a touch of the good ol’ days of Elvis rock-n-roll music! The late 1950’s and early 1960’s presented a strong change in pop culture by movie, music and political viewpoints affecting all. The story is a simple yet twisted tale of the sanitized world of Nixon in the White House and the post FDR world of crew-cut hairdos and Frank Sinatra on the radio and the sudden crash into the neo- punk world of expressionism, gay pride and pop music on the jukebox that the 1970's would be known for. Almost a year later, March 19, 1974 to be exact, the show makes its first U.S. preview appearance at Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre on the Sunset Strip… playing for a strong 9 months!

Patricia Quinn as The Usherette- 1973
The buzz was blazing through Hollywood and soon a network of old theatre friends would soon come together for the adaption and principal photography of the motion picture version of the musical comedy stage show. Jim Sharman would be named as director and co-screenwriter along with O’Brien. The two had been associates back in the Royal Court Theatre days and collaborated to bring this unique show to the silver screen. Casting would take some of its original stage actors to reprise their roles in the film version. Amongst them: Tim Curry, Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, “Little” Nell Campbell and Jonathan Adams from the London production and Meatloaf from the Los Angeles shows at the Roxy.

An audience doing the "Time Warp!"
 THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW made its worldwide debut in August 1975 in London, shortly followed by its U.S. premiere on September 26, 1975 at the UA Westwood Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. After weak box office performances and hurtful critical responds, the film tries to continue to make its money by being placed as a midnight show for a more generalized crowd. The date is now September 1976 and audiences begin a run-on joke by heckling and yelling back to the offensively bad movie during certain bits. The rumor has it all  beginning when a scene in the general start of the film has the ‘narrator’ (The Criminologist- to the fans) inviting the audience “on a strange journey”… it was at this point that a patron yelled back, “how strange was it?” The rest, as they say, was history. Within a short period of time, various audiences tried topping each other with clever comebacks and yelling humorous replies back.

This was then followed by a strange assortment of various props used within the audience during the presentation. Specifically, these props are used at certain key moments of the film: these items most commonly used are water pistols (shot up in the air to assimilate rain), newspaper (to avoid the rainfall), rice (thrown during the opening wedding scene), toilet paper, party poppers, playing cards and so on and forth! 
Fans from the New York shows
 What could be left to do but take the next steps that have made this the experience to be experienced: dressing up as their favorite character in the film. Painstaking details in wardrobe, make- up, mannerisms, mimicking and karaoke- like singing and acting have taken on a life of its own and could no longer be contained within theater rows anymore! The final expression of love for the film has led performing groups onto the stage of the screen to reenact the movie in its entirety while it plays! Set props, backdrops, lighting effects and actors have taken over bringing the movie to a third and even forth dimension! ‘It’s astounding…’
  
Brad and Janet (awwwww)

The Crimiologist- An Expert!
 THE STORY: The Criminologist (Charles Gray) invites us to listen in on a bizarre case as he opens a book entitled The Denton Affair and begins to recall the events that took place in the little town of Denton, USA.  The story unfolds: Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon play Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, two ordinary young “square” adults living the American dream of college sweethearts planning a future marriage, kids and that house in the suburbs. After attending the marriage of one of their friends, Brad nervously pops the question as well with Janet’s enthusiastic approval. While driving on a ‘dark and stormy night’, a tire is blown- out to now have our stranded heroes walking to a castle close by in hopes of using their phone for assistance. Ignoring blatant warning signs (literally: “Enter At Your Own Risk”!) the soaked couple finally make it the doorsteps in hopes that someone is home. Upon awaiting reply to their plea, the door is eventually answered… expecting an upstart, well-to-do dressed in his smoke jacket and pipe… they are, instead, greeted by the castle’s ‘handyman’ Riff- Raff (played by creator Richard O’Brien).

"Let's do the Time Warp again!"
The couple are allowed into the castle’s foyer only to be informed that they had ‘arrived on a rather special night’. The housemaid Magenta (Patricia Quinn) agrees to how ‘lucky’ they are with their timing as the festivities are about to begin… this is where the point of no return is reached and Brad and Janet are taken into a world they would never have imagined! Their view of white- picket fences and moral values are quickly deconstructed as they are exposed to a world of perversion and sexual expression far beyond anything that their narrow- minded thoughts could ever be expected to perceive.
Let me show you how we do it in Transylvania!
 
"I see you shiver with antci----pation!"
The Master finally makes a grand entrance, as the evening’s celebration is in his honor! The appearance is both shocking and alluring, as we are introduced to the cross- dressed  Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), the ‘sweet transsexual from Transylvania.’ All are invited ‘up to the lab and see what’s on the slab’ as they ride an elevator to the castle’s laboratory. It is there that both the party’s guests and the uninvited couple are shown the reason for the occasion’s festivities… could the doctor have actually made a man just like Frankenstein’s monster? It seems as if he had, indeed, succeeded as the creature known as Rocky (Peter Hinwood) is brought to life before the eyes of the curious onlookers. Ah, but the good doctor has other ulterior motives for the creation of a man ‘with blonde hair and a tan’ as he would be best utilized for relieving the doctor’s ‘tension.’ The lesson learned from previous creations in such scenarios is that the beast can never be detained... as it takes on a liking to Janet, causing the doctor fuming jealousy. Columbia (Nell Campbell) is a ‘groupie’ hanging out with the odd group as her long- lost boyfriend, the motorcycle driving Eddie (Meatloaf) crashes the party. Unfortunately, the timing is all wrong and the Dr. does away with the party intruder as Columbia is left sobbing over her rebel boyfriend’s corpse.
Eddie crashes the party in "Hot Patootie, Bless My Soul"

"The Floor Show"
In all of this mayhem, Brad and Janet encounter their college professor, Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams) who, coincidentally, ends up at the castle in the midst of tracking down Frank-N-Furter and his house servants. The plot thickens as it is revealed that Frank, Riff- Raff and Columbia are from the planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania and are on Earth to explore the humans' curious forms. Frank will not have his plans thwart with as he uses the lab’s Medusa Transducer, transforming Brad, Janet, Rocky, Columbia and Dr. Scott into statues! Once released from their statued state, the group awaken only to be forced to perform a cabaret show with Frank as the ring leader.

SPOILER ALERT:The performance is soon interrupted by Riff- Raff and his sister, Magenta, as they form a coup with plans to return to their home planet. In the rebellion, Columbia, Frank and Rocky are left dead as Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott are let free as the castle breaks from its grounds and takes off as one giant spacecraft back home… leaving the survivors ‘crawling on the planet’s face…some insects called the human race’.
Riff- Raff and Magenta
VIEWS:
1981's SHOCK TREATMENT
So, what would normally develop from a hit that isn't expected to be a hit? How about a sequel? Richard O'Brien was asked to pen down, what he called an "equal", to ROCKY HORROR and in 1981, SHOCK TREATMENT was released. The film would carry on with the further exploits of Brad and Janet, who are now married and live in the reality- TV world of Denton USA. Some ROCKY HORROR cast members returned, playing different rolls this time including O'Brien, Nell Campbell, Charles Gray and Patricia Quinn.
The original SHOCK TREATMENT trailer from 1981!

Both the musical play and film have been used as grounds to allow freedom of expression… both to the gay and straight community. People of all walks of life, with different backgrounds and cultures, sexual and political preferences… have all banded together to celebrate and enjoy a simple, if not silly, musical- comedy- horror show that, 36 years later, still packs the midnight shows or can be enjoyed at home with its DVD and Blu- Ray releases! ‘Don’t dream it…be it!'
As always, we welcome your comments and ideas! Please feel free to chime in as we always look forward to hearing from you! Until next week, when we say...SEE YOU NEXT WEDNESDAY!

Have you visited the official CINEMA: COUNTERPOINT page on YOUTUBE? Check out classic and contemporary trailers, scenes and other great trips down memory lane! Just click the link and check out the "Favorites" on our site! Enjoy!

3 comments:

  1. Long live the RHPS! Just love it!!!

    (Gregory, Tulsa OKLAHOMA)

    ReplyDelete
  2. As always you have given us something to look forward too. The background you gave for the movie was incredibly interesting. I didn't know most of that information. Thanks for such a great blog and keep up the great work... :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Gregory...I am celebrating 28 years since I first saw RHPS in a theater and I have been loving it ever since. I just saw it again last night and it still rocks my foundations!

    Thanks Anonymous for your reply as well...here at CINEMA:COUNTERPOINT, we always strive t ogive the fans just a little more of the insight then just fluffed comments or critiques!

    ReplyDelete