The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Original Rocky Horror Picture Show poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Sharman
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onThe Rocky Horror Show
by Richard O'Brien
Starring
Narrated byCharles Gray
Music by
CinematographyPeter Suschitzky
Edited byGraeme Clifford
Production
company
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 14 August 1975 (1975-08-14)
Running time
100 minutes[1][2]
Country
  • United Kingdom[3]
  • United States[3]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$1.4 million[4]
Box office$140.2 million[5]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical horror comedy film by 20th Century Fox, produced by Lou Adler and Michael White and directed by Jim Sharman. The screenplay was written by Sharman and actor Richard O'Brien, who is also a member of the cast. The film is based on the 1973 musical stage production The Rocky Horror Show, with music, book, and lyrics by O'Brien. The production is a parody tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the 1930s through to the early 1960s. Along with O'Brien, the film stars Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, and Barry Bostwick and is narrated by Charles Gray with cast members from the original Royal Court Theatre, Roxy Theatre, and Belasco Theatre productions including Nell Campbell and Patricia Quinn.

The story centres on a young engaged couple whose car breaks down in the rain near a castle where they seek a telephone to call for help. The castle or country home is occupied by strangers in elaborate costumes celebrating an annual convention. They discover the head of the house is Dr. Frank N. Furter, an apparently mad scientist who actually is an alien transvestite who creates a living muscle man in his laboratory. The couple are seduced separately by the mad scientist and eventually released by the servants who take control.

The film was shot in the United Kingdom at Bray Studios and on location at an old country estate named Oakley Court, best known for its earlier use by Hammer Film Productions. A number of props and set pieces were reused from the Hammer horror films. Although the film is both a parody of and tribute to many kitsch science fiction and horror films, costume designer Sue Blane conducted no research for her designs. Blane stated that costumes from the film have directly affected the development of punk rock fashion trends such as ripped fishnets and dyed hair.[6]

Although largely critically panned on initial release, it soon became known as a midnight movie when audiences began participating with the film at the Waverly Theater in New York City in 1976. Audience members returned to the cinemas frequently and talked back to the screen and began dressing as the characters, spawning similar performance groups across the United States. At almost the same time, fans in costume at the King's Court Theater in Pittsburgh began performing alongside the film. This "shadow cast" mimed the actions on screen above and behind them, while lip-synching their character's lines. Still in limited release four decades after its premiere, it is the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It is often shown close to Halloween. Today, the film has a large international cult following. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2005.

Plot

A criminologist narrates the tale of the newly engaged couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy late November evening, somewhere near Denton in 1974. Seeking a telephone, the couple walk to a nearby castle where they discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania". The ensemble of convention attendees also includes servants Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia.

In his lab, Frank claims to have discovered the "secret to life itself". His creation, Rocky, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie (an ex-delivery boy, both Frank and Columbia's ex-lover, as well as partial brain donor to Rocky) who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. Eddie then proceeds to seduce Columbia, get the Transylvanians dancing and singing and intrigue Brad and Janet. When Rocky starts dancing and enjoying the performance, a jealous Frank kills Eddie with a pickax. Columbia screams in horror, devastated by Eddie's death. Frank justifies killing Eddie as a "mercy killing" to Rocky and they depart to the bridal suite.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms, where each is visited and seduced by Frank, who poses as Brad (when visiting Janet) and then as Janet (when visiting Brad). Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, who she discovers, via a television monitor, is in bed with Frank. She then discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While tending to his wounds, Janet becomes intimate with Rocky, as Magenta and Columbia watch from their bedroom monitor.

After discovering that his creation is missing, Frank returns to the lab with Brad and Riff Raff, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, Dr. Everett Scott, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie. Frank suspects that Dr. Scott investigates UFOs for the government. Upon learning of Brad and Janet's connection to Dr. Scott, Frank suspects them of working for him; Brad denies any knowledge of it, and Dr. Scott assures Frank that Brad is totally not involved in UFOs. Frank, Dr. Scott, Brad, and Riff Raff then discover Janet and Rocky together under the sheets in Rocky's birth tank, upsetting Frank and Brad. Magenta interrupts the reunion by sounding a massive gong and stating that dinner is prepared.

Rocky and the guests share an uncomfortable dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's mutilated remains. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms, provoking Frank to chase her through the halls. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, transforming them into nude statues. After dressing them in cabaret costume, Frank "unfreezes" them, and they perform a live cabaret floor show, complete with an RKO tower and a swimming pool, with Frank as the leader.

Riff Raff and Magenta interrupt the performance, revealing themselves and Frank to be aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. They stage a coup and announce a plan to return to their home planet. In the process, they kill Columbia and Frank, who has "failed his mission". An enraged Rocky gathers Frank in his arms, climbs to the top of the tower, and plunges to his death in the pool below. Riff Raff and Magenta release Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott, then depart by lifting off in the castle itself. The survivors are then left crawling in the dirt, and the narrator concludes that the human race is equivalent to insects crawling on the planet's surface, "lost in time, and lost in space... and meaning".

Cast