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(35th Anniversary Edition)

"It's astounding
Time is fleeting
Madness takes its toll…"

What can I say about THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW ($35) that hasn’t been said countless times before? Probably nothing… but then again, I have a review to write. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW has been a favorite on the midnight movie circuit for roughly thirty-five years, thus making it the most successful cult movie of all time, as it has never actually been pulled from theatrical release by the studio. While the film’s financial success stems largely from the audience participation experience, which has become a Friday and Saturday night ritual akin to a high mass, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW remains a fun movie to watch, even without the audience participation.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is based upon the stage musical by Richard O'Brien, and the film features a number of the same actors who appeared in the British and American stage companies. The plot of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is something of an homage to innocent "B" science fiction movies of the fifties, although the action has been spiced up with open sexuality that was pervasive during the early seventies. As the film opens, we meet our hero and heroine, namely Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and his new fiancée Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon), who decide to pay a visit to their former teacher Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams)- the man responsible for bringing them together. While Brad and Janet are on their way to see Dr. Scott, their car breaks down during a thunderstorm, which forces them to seeks help in a nearby castle. Naïve Brad and Janet find themselves ill prepared for the reception they receive from the weird inhabitants of the castle.

The butler Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien) and his sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn) are truly bizarre creatures, yet they pale in comparison to their master… Doctor Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a scientist and self affirmed sweet transvestite from Transsexual Transylvania. Making matters worse for Brad and Janet is the fact that they arrived on the night that Frank-N-Furter brings to life his greatest scientific achievement, a blond muscle man named Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood) that will be the mad scientist’s sexual plaything. As the evening progresses, sweet, innocent Brad and Janet find themselves slowly corrupted by the decadent lifestyle of their amoral host. Eventually Brad and Janet even meet up with Dr. Scott, who comes to the castle in search of extraterrestrials, as well as his missing nephew Eddie (Meat Loaf). The cast of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW also features Little Nell as Columbia and Charles Gray as the Criminologist, who narrates this amusing tale of sexual perversity amongst extraterrestrial.

While THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is filled with naughty, camp imagery and sexual innuendo there is no actual sex depicted in the movie and only the tiniest flashes of nudity. The funny gender bending story and film’s over-the-top characters are the keys to the film’s success, especially Tim Curry’s over-the-top performance. Every second Curry is on the screen is a study in excess; nothing the character does is ever small. The entire time, Curry struts around like a painted peacock and you can’t take your eyes off of him- his costumes and makeup have to be seen to be believed. Now I don’t want to slight anyone else, all of the performances are right on target and its great to see Sarandon and Bostwick in the earliest stages of their careers. In addition, Richard O’Brien’s songs are almost infectious; heck, I have been singing these songs since I was a teenager. Let’s face it; once you have seen THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, the movie is just impossible to get out of your head.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. Both the U.S. or U.K. versions of the film are available as viewing options from the Blu-ray’s main menu. The U.K. version includes the song Superheroes, which was cut from American prints. Featuring a brand new 4K/2K Master taken from the original camera negatives, the 1080p presentation of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is truly spectacular for a modestly budgeted film from 1975. The presentation is exquisitely filmic and rich, but it also reveals certain limitations in the film’s original optical effects. Every fade, wipe and dissolve appears somewhat soft in comparison to the principal photography. It should be noted that a large portion of Charles Gray’s footage in the movie exists inside one type of optical or another, leaving the majority of his performance looking like some poor relation to the rest of the film. As soon as there is a cut after an optical, the image returns to an amazing level of clarity and visual richness. Sharpness fine detail and texturing can sometimes be quite startling, and it abounds in the finely grained image. Of course, close-ups under studio lighting tend to impress the most, because they tend to put everything right under the microscope. Color reproduction is excellent, with brightly colored hues dominating the film’s palette. Reds tend to pop especially well, but maintain complete stability. Contrast is very smooth and shadow detail is respectable, but blacks tend to drop off into the inky abyss. The elements from which THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW has been transferred appear remarkably clean, but do not show signs of being digitally over-processed. As I mentioned above, the presentation maintains a wonderful fine-grained quality that makes it all very film like.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless soundtrack is an amazing upgrade over the film’s original monaural mix, which benefits the film’s music and songs. Sonic elements other than the music make limited use of the larger soundstage, as there just aren’t that many sound effects within the original sound design. Thanks to the lossless encode, the music is livelier, punchier and has a whole lot more presence than it has ever demonstrated in the past. Sure, the music recordings don’t sound brand new, they but impress nonetheless. Still, songs like The Time Warp and Hot Patootie do kick some serious butt, and are worth blasting through one’s home theater system. The film’s original monaural mix is presented also provided in Dolby Digital. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, many of which have been ported from the previous DVD release. Also, gotta say I love the menu design for this Blu-ray release, it really enhances the presentation of the movie. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, which is like a trip down memory lane for this twosome, although doesn’t really impart any technical details on the film’s production. In addition to the U.S. and the U.K. versions of the film, a third version of THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is also provided on the disc. This "WIZARD OF OZ" version is in black and white up until Brad and Janet first burst in on the Transylvanians during The Time Warp musical number.

The Midnight Experience (requires a Profile 1.1 player) incorporates a Trivia Track (pop-up factoids), Vintage Callback Track (the 1983 Audience Par-Tic-I-Pation Track and what to yell back at the screen), Prop Box (throw stuff at the screen… virtually) and The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-In-Picture Show (a live shadowcast performance at the bottom of the screen). Rocky-Oke: Sing It! allows fans to belt out all the classic songs, without those pesky original vocals getting in the way. Featurettes and other programs include: Don’t Dream It, Be It: The Search For The 35th Anniversary Shadowcast (two parts, fifty eight minutes total), The Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show (1995 making of documentary, thirty six minutes), Beacon Theater, New York City (from the movie’s tenth anniversary, five minutes) and Mick Rock (meet the on-set photographer and his work. four minutes). Closing out the standard supplements are: two Deleted Musical Numbers, eleven Alternate Takes of scenes, Time Warp Music Video, two Theatrical Trailers, an Alternate Credit Ending, a Misprint Ending, a Pressbook Gallery, a Poster Gallery and Mick Rock’s Picture Show photo gallery. THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player). THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW also features book styled packaging that contains pages of Mick Rock’s photos.

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is a one of a kind movie experience. The Blu-ray presentation is glorious revelation that transparently offers the film with optimum high definition video and audio. Very highly recommended.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (35th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (1975)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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