Screen Reviews

The Rocky Horror Picture Show

25th Anniversary Edition DVD

20th Century Fox

There are very few cinematic experiences that could be termed life changing. For those of us that were children in the seventies, the original run of Star Wars comes to mind, as does The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For years, I had heard and read about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but things would never be the same as when in high school a small group of us ventured downtown to a midnight screening of the film. For all the audience participation and bad-mouthing of how bad the film is, recent viewing of the new DVD reinforces my opinion that the film, although certainly flawed, is actually quite good with or without the audience participation. Just watching some of the lesser episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 will illustrate that no amount of funny stuff being said makes truly unwatchable films suddenly watchable. Rocky Horror is also a true eye opener about the world of sex, at least to a teenager in the Bible Belt Midwest. Is there anything sexier than Little Nell in striped pajamas and Mickey Mouse ears painting Patricia Quinn’s toenails? Of course, today, with the Internet and Ally McBeal, Sex in the City, and Jerry Springer, RHPS has lost a bit of its bite. But in the seventies and eighties, transvestites, lesbians, necrophilia, gay sex, incest, bondage, and cannibalism all crammed into a musical was as mind expanding as a weekend with Dr. Timothy Leary.

Now The Rocky Horror Picture Show gets the ultra-deluxe DVD treatment. This twin disc set is absolutely loaded with features. First and most importantly, the film has a crystal clear 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. The upshot of this is that Frank, Columbia, Eddie, and Riff-Raff have never looked or sounded better, after years of being shown on shoddy, worn-out prints full of scratches, splices, and sub-par sound. The discs also feature an unusually interesting feature length commentary from writer and star Richard O’Brien (Riff-Raff) and Patricia Quinn (Magenta). They not only give an inside look at the making of the film, but on the RHPS phenomenon, the stage play, and they help to place the film in context of its time. VH-1’s Behind The Music and Pop-Up Video on Rocky Horror are included. The discs also have an audience participation soundtrack complete with a subtitle track prompting the use of props. The disc contains the full-length version of the film, which the disc calls the UK version, and the so-called US version. The difference is that the UK version contains the ending song “Superheroes.” The myth is that the “Superheroes” version was never or rarely ever seen in theaters. In fact, the cutting of that number only happened in the late eighties, and I have seen RHPS more times with it than without it. There is even a hidden feature which shows the Richard O’Brien version of the film, which has the beginning of the film, including “Dammit Janet,” in black and white, only turning color with the entrance to Frank-N-Furter’s castle, ala The Wizard of Oz. This disc is not only a treasure for RHPS fans, but also a showcase for the capabilities of the DVD format.

http://www.rockyhorrorpictureshowdvd.com


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