The Rocky Horror Picture Show


The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Based on the 1973 U.K. rock musical “The Rocky Horror Show” with music, lyrics and book by Richard O’Brien

Screenplay by Jim Sharman & Richard O’Brien

Directed by Jim Sharman



Tim Curry

Barry Bostwick

Susan Sarandon

Richard O’Brien
Patricia Quinn

Jonathan Adams

Charles Gray


Theatrical:  Lou Adler/Michael White

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment


Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1

Codec: AVC

Disc Size: 48.37 GB

Feature Size: 28.98 GB

Bit Rate: 38.59 Mbps

Runtime: 100 minutes

Chapters: 36

Region: A


English DTS-HD MA 7.1

English Dolby Digital 5.1

Polish Dolby Digital 5.1

Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1

English Dolby Digital 2.0

English Dolby Digital 2.0


English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish & none


* U.S. & U.K. Versions of the movie

* Audio Commentary by Writer, Composer, Actor Richard O’Brien & Actor Patricia Quinn

* The Midnight Experience: The Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show, Vintage Callback Track (Unrated), Prop Box, Trivia Track
* Rocky-oke: Sing It!
* Don't Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part I
* An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part II
* Mick Rock (Photographer)
* Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery)

* Deleted Musical Scenes & Outtakes

* Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show

* Beacon Theater “Time Warp” Music Video
* Pressbook and Poster Gallery

* BD-LIVE: Live Lookup, Powered by IMDb


Blu-ray casebook: BRD x 1

Release Date: October 19, 2010


In Mary Shelley’s book, the title character “Frankenstein” is often confused by those who haven’t read it with the monster. Obversely, the title character in Richard O’Brien’s rock musical “Rocky Horror” is often confused with the doctor by those who haven’t seen it.


The Movie: 7

The Rocky Horror Picture Show presents us with the basic dilemma of how to score a movie that is only fairly well made with our level of enjoyment.  The fun of Rocky Horror is in its unbridled madness.  It’s the very personification of camp - outrageously exhibitionist and self-insulting to the nth degree.

Just to get criticism out of the way, one example should suffice:When Janet and Brad are shown to their separate quarters we see Riff-Raff and Magenta watching the proceedings in the tele.  But even though there are two monitors they are fixed to only one: Janet’s room - They stand there fixated in much the same pose - as I would have been, I’m quite sure - each of the two times the camera cuts to them.  The reason for this second cut is to fool us into thinking that enough time has passed for Brad to get to Janet’s room Who are they kidding!.  Either have them switch to watching Brad’s room on second viewing or, better yet, leave it out altogether and reveal Frank-N-Furter’s entrance into Janet’s room by a zipper unzipping in place of a wipe.  Enough quibbling, now with the show.


The “Picture Show” of the title replaces the lazy expression “The Movie” that accompanies movies like “Superman” and “xxx”, indicating this is the movie version of the rock musical written for the stage, and titled “The Rocky Horror Show.”  (We must be forever grateful that in the “Golden Age” no one thought of “The Maltese Falcon - The Movie” nor for scores of other movies derived from popular and classic novels of the day.)  The “Rocky Horror”part of the title refers to the monster created by Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), who just happens to be a gorgeous hunk of blond manhood (Peter Hinwood) - mute, except for when he sings, which isn’t often.


The plot, bizarre as it is and which gives the impression of being made up as it galumphs along, goes something like this: Brad Majors and Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), about as clean cut and virginal a pair you’ll ever come across, after having attended the wedding of friends, declare their love for each other and their intention to marry.  Later that dark and stormy night, on their way to meet another friend, Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams), they run out of gas and seek respite at a remote castle (the same one used in Jack Clayton’s “The Innocents” I thought you’d like to know) where a party is under way.  Little by little they learn that their host and some of his underlings are alines - “from the planet Transsexual in the distant galaxy of Transylvania” - and are here for some obscure reason which we don’t get to find out about, if then, until the end of the movie.


During the night Brad and Janet, after being “welcomed” by the hunchback (Richard O’Brien - the man responsible for the words and music) and his sister, Magenta (Patricia Quinn), are subjected a series of embarrassing and delicious sexual encounters with Dr. Frank-N-Furter and Rocky.  Dr. Frank-N-Furter main agenda for the party is the celebration, after several ignominious failures, particularly “Eddie” (Meat Loaf), of the birth of his latest creation “Rocky”.  Instead of car chases, the characters chase each other around the castle and occasionally burst through a wall or two, as does Dr. Scott who is there, not for Brad and Janet but Eddie.


All the while there is a good deal of singing - if you could call it that - and gyrating - vide the ever-popular “Time Warp” and the sight of Tim Curry in Victorian corset and fabulous makeup (Roger Ebert describes the look as “Loretta Young in drag” and I concur). Curry romps around like he owns the place and the movie, which he sort of does.  He can hardly utter any phrase without it sounding like a Mae West invitation - only he makes for a more convincing woman.  The evening’s misadventures are punctuated by the unctuous intonations of a criminologist played by Charles Gray, whose pregnant pauses suggest some unseen drama as yet to befall the hapless couple.


Image: 7/8

Comparison to the 2000 two-disc DVD is striking.  The Blu-ray, in addition to its having higher resolution, has higher contrast by virtue of increased black levels that swallow detail in the bargain.  It’s not that the DVD lacked for black, so I’m not convinced that more is necessarily better.  The back cover for the DVD indicated the image is “letterboxed” and “widescreen” which for a movie in a mere 1.66:1 aspect ratio would have been a preposterous state of affairs if it were true - which it wasn’t.  Both the DVD and the Blu-ray, then, cover the same area of your screen, only there’s more information on the Blu-ray and less magnification.


The color on the DVD is only sometimes to be preferred - its biggest problem is its inconsistency.  Note how it changes from too red on Rocky to too yellow for Riff-Raff as the handyman taunts the monster that results in Rocky’s escape. On the Blu-ray, there is no mistake about the light source.  it is  clear that the red light on Rocky comes from a sunlamp whereas Riff-Raff remains just outside the lam’s influence.  There is a consistency to the color on the Blu-ray which is much to be preferred.  So between the black crush on the one hand and the improved color on the other, the Blu-ray wins on points.

The transfer is quite clean, a little noise here and there, but not artifacts to complain about.  The scenes with the criminologist are hit and miss in the sharpness department, but for the most part, this is a jolly good-looking disc.


Audio & Music: 6/7

There’s just so much silk you can get out of a sow’s ear, and the idea that a satisfying 5.1 mix could be derived out of Rocky Horror’s original mono is tempting the devil.  Janet’s voice (Is that really Susan Sarandon!), ordinarily thin and squealing, is, on the Blu-ray thin and squeaky, which, in case, you don’t catch my drift, is worse - almost unlistenable, unless, you feel that she is supposed to sound like this - you know, for camp’s sake.  Interestingly, the most natural rendering of singing voices is on the DVD with the mono track played back with the help of an outboard digital-to-analogue converter.  You’d think the same path taken on the Blu-ray would result in the same level of quality but it doesn’t.  The chorus we hear as Brad and Janet approach the castle is rendered entirely differently for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 and for the mono version of the BRD and the DVD.  Fascinating. 

As for the effects (motorcycles, Frank’s lab and other castle noises) there is the occasional attempt to circulated the sound in a semi-effective manner, but the most noticeable result is an improvement in the overall airiness of the mix.  The thunderstorm and some tolling bells come off well.


Extras: 9

I can’t think of hardly a single aspect of Rocky Horror history or living room aides-de-camp that isn’t addressed, covered or uncovered in the many bonus features included on this Blu-ray, even though some were present on the recent DVDs.  As much as I like O’Brien in character, as a commentator he leaves something to be desired.  The presence of Miss Quinn didn’t help matters much as the two of them mostly reminisced laconically rather than informed entertainingly.  I suppose their comments are very much in the spirit of the think, but I had hopes for more.


The hour-long “Don’t Dream It, Be It” auditions for the London show is presented in quasi-HD.  Mick Rock’s gallery of photos he shot while on the set are worth a look. “The Midnight Experience” and “Rocky-oke Sing it” are just what you’d expect: a whole tool box of different ways to enjoy the movie, including a callback track. 

You can watch the U.K. or U.S. versions, which differ in the British inclusion of an extended “Super Heroes” at the end.  The deleted black and white material prior to the entrance in the castle is an option, and I think the evidence speaks for itself as to why it was or should have been color - and, thankfully, it was and is.


Recommendation: 8

We have to assume you already have one or another DVD of Rocky Horror so the question is whether or not the Blu-ray is worth the upgrade.  For fans, absolutely no question.  For anyone else, I should ask why you have the title in the first place?

By the way, I like Fox’s simple book presentation.  I’d like to see more titles in this format.

Leonard Norwitz

© LensViews

October 20, 2010

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