Rocky Horror Picture Show

Three very enthusiastic reviews from Melbourne based film critics Gerard Elson, Paul Nelson, and Tara Judah. Each of these reviews originally appeared in an edition of our E-newsletter and are republished here with permission from the authors.

“It’s not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache.” So laments Dr Frank-N-Furter—‘A Scientist’—in The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Frank’s words might best be applied to New Year’s Eve; that last, desperate glom to reclaim the year that was in the name of fun and ring in a new annum with a grin. Drinks flow freely. Music blares. But it’s not easy having a good time when we know that, come tomorrow, it’s all certain to make our heads ache…

An occasion to give yourself over to absolute pleasure: with a deviant mob of fellow mascara-smeared miscreants. For like a bodacious bod in a lace-up corset, barely contained by The Astor’s super-sized screen will be the cult movie: The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The path it’s strutted to cult glory is the stuff of legend: the dismal first showings, the mystified critics, the evasion by the general public… followed some two years later by the mounting momentum of participatory “midnight movie” screenings, in which the audience were invited—nay, expected! —to kick up their high heels and join in the revelry with the sex-fired space bacchants on-screen. Thirty-five years later and Rocky Horror still stands, hand on hip, legs fishnetted and lipsticked lips puckered, as the longest running film in cinema history. 20th Century Fox have never yet lapsed the film’s initial release. Hell, if it ain’t broke…

And Rocky Horror ain’t broke. Far from it. It’s every bit as subversive, all-embracing and resplendently demented as it must have seemed in 1975. And the songs, from the manic dance hall rock ‘n’ roll of ‘The Time Warp’ to the insouciant swagger of ‘Sweet Transvestite’ (Tim Curry here is no less than iconic), still inspire open-lunged sing-along abandon.

So this New Year’s Eve, let The Astor take you on a strange journey with The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Don’t just watch it. Be it.

Reviewed by Gerard Elson (@gerardelson)

From the 20th Century Fox fanfare performed in Richard Hartley’s soon-to-be-unmistakable piano style; followed by Patricia Quinn’s cherry red lips flying at you, you know you’re in for something different. Even after three and a half decades, it feels like a marvellous psychotropic trip to another world. It’s movie geek phantasmagoria, an impassioned plea for tolerance, and a raucous celebration of letting one’s freak flag fly all rolled into one. Ladies and Gentlemen: there is only one Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) are all-American kids who spring a flat tyre on a rainy night, sending them scurrying to the nearest house for a phone. Unfortunately (or most fortunately), the nearest house is a gothic castle, playing host to a shindig for “Transylvanians”, thrown by cross-dressing mad scientist Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), and catered by all-too-intimate brother/sister servant pair Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien, also the co-writer/lyricist) and Magenta (Patricia Quinn). Despite Brad and Janet’s fearful trepidation, Frank is delighted to host them, as he’s about to unveil his latest feat of genius. See, he’s been making a man… with blond hair and a tan…

Directed and co-adapted by Australian Jim Sharman, the film is a pure, unhinged, hedonistic blast, inspired by sci-fi B-pictures and Busby Berkeley musicals, bursting with insanely catchy songs and endlessly quotable dialogue. The uniformly terrific cast (most reprising the roles they originated on stage) surrender to the material with wonderful reckless abandon, but nobody makes as seismic an impression as Curry, whose booming voice, sly charisma and dramatic physicality command every scene he’s even peripherally involved in.

One of the first films (and the only Hollywood studio film) to be adopted by the original NYC “midnight movie” crowd of the mid-1970s, Rocky Horror’s celebration of sexual freedom and kinky joie de vivre continues to resonate powerfully with audiences today, as well as its then-unique references to genre movies past, now de rigueur. Give yourself over to absolute pleasure – see it!

Reviewed by Paul Nelson (@mrpaulnelson)

Pull up your fishnets and tighten your corsets: it’s time to do the Time Warp again! This Friday we take you back to 1975 with one of the original five films responsible for the “Midnight Movie” phenomenon: that’s right folks, returning to Melbourne’s glorious Astor Theatre is writer/actor Richard O’Brien and director Jim Sharman’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Adapted for the screen from O’Brien’s original stage musical: The Rocky Horror Show (1973), the film version attracted such an immense cult audience that the stage-show has since been, almost endlessly, revived – and not just in the UK. Exceeding by far the meagre expectations O’Brien had of his warped, B-grade, trans-sexually charged sci-fi musical mayhem, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is said to hold the record for the longest running theatrical release in film history. Still showing in quality theatres around the world, Rocky Horror has never been withdrawn from its original release, putting it at a now thirty-seven year run – and counting!

When “Brad Majors – A Hero” (Barry Bostwick) and “Janet Weiss – A Heroine” (Susan Sarandon) – a cute couple and straight squares – break down on a cold, wet November’s eve, they have no choice but to head to a nearby castle in search of a phone to call for help. But the unwitting couple stumble upon the residence of “Dr Frank-N-Furter – A Scientist” (Tim Curry) who appears to be hosting an Annual Transylvanian Convention, at which he is unveiling his latest “creation”: Rocky Horror (a “real, live” man). With some of the most sensational musical numbers ever to exist, including; “Sweet Transvestite”, “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me” and, of course, “The Time Warp”; The Rocky Horror Picture Show is not just a film- it’s an experience, which is why audiences have been donning the get-up to attend screenings wherever they can for what’s now three and a half decades.

With costumes, cast, music and mise-en-scene that many probably really would die for, Friday night’s screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a must attend event for anyone who hasn’t seen it – and also for anyone who has. Tim Curry in fishnets, heels, red lippy and a corset? Yes please!

Reviewed by Tara Judah (@midnightmovies)