The video release of The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been a long time coming. While the distributors claimed the delay was due to the venerable midnight movie’s persistent theatrical life, I always assumed that, shorn of the bonkers audience participation that was at least half the show, there really wasn’t much here to get excited about. So imagine my surprise at how dippily resilient Rocky Horror remains 15 years after it opened.
Director Jim Sharman’s movie, like the London stage show on which it was based, sandwiched a pre-punk attitude of genuine threat between several layers of enjoyably dumb camp: For all of Tim Curry’s queen-bitch sashaying as ”sweet transvestite transsexual” Dr. Frank N. Furter, the music’s just a cabaret pastiche of retread ’50s pop and lush ’70s overproduction (not for nothing is Meat Loaf present). Still, the pell-mell energy of such numbers as ”The Time Warp,” ”Whatever Happened to Saturday Night,” and Susan Sarandon’s googly erotic ”Touch-a-touch-a-touch-a-touch Me” comes across even on the small screen.
It helps that CBS/Fox has bookended the video with footage detailing the celebratory Rocky cult (it gives you a boost after the dreary ending). However, for a movie that’s mostly a plotless mix of old sci-fi flicks and Bowie-esque gender-bending, Rocky Horror continues to charm. That’s due in part to nostalgia (we’ve all become a lot more uptight since 1975), but also to the honest delight we take in the freedoms this movie so cheerfully flaunts. B+