November 3, 2013 - 4:08pm
BY REBECCA GODWIN
A few days ago, I finally lost my “Rocky Horror” virginity. The experience was interesting to say the least. I want it known that I am ashamed that it has taken me this long to watch the movie. I claim to be such a great connoisseur of musicals, yet I had not seen such a beloved classic. I mean I’ve had a few of the songs on my iPod for a while — really, what the hell was I waiting for?
Obviously, then, I didn’t go into it without any knowledge of the film. Other than the things I had gathered from the songs, the film has been around for years and is a huge part of pop culture, so I had picked up on a few key points of the plot. There’s no real way to briefly explain my feelings about the movie, but I’ll try to summarize my thoughts the best I can.
First let me start with the characters, or at least the characters I found to be the most interesting.
Dr. Frank-n-furter: Wow. Where do I even start with Frank? First, kudos to you Tim Curry. You have to be very comfortable with who you are as a person and your sexual orientation to play a part like this, but Curry played the role brilliantly. Before I start commending his acting skills, I’d like to talk about something a bit more superficial: makeup. The makeup job on Curry is jaw dropping. I’ve seen him in several other films and trust me, he did not look like this. The contouring is flawless and he looked beautiful. There is really no point in denying it. In terms of performance, what can I really say that hasn’t already been said? It was amazing and weird and fun and crazy. Frank is super sexual and loves the spotlight, but there’s a charm about him that makes you like him even after he pulls some crazy shit.
Riff Raff: This man is one creepy dude. Just his appearance alone made my skin crawl with his weird hunchback and serial killer makeup. If I was Janet or Brad and he opened the door, I would have just turned around and gone back to the car. Performance wise, Robert O’Brien did an excellent job. I spent most of the movie trying to decide if Riff Raff’s outbursts against Dr. Frank-n-furter were because of displeasure with Frank’s life choices or jealousy that Frank didn’t find him desirable as a partner like he did practically everyone else. Though my favorite part about this character was probably his gravity defying hair at the end.
Janet Weiss: I found it very amusing that Susan Sarandon played such a weird role because everything else I’ve seen her in, she’s always been very serious and dramatic. She still did a good job, but I’m very undecided about the character of Janet. In the beginning, Janet needs to keep it together. During “Time Warp” and “Sweet Transvestite” she faints three times. Seriously: Let’s get a grip, girl. And the way Frank is able to change her personality so quickly just by flirting with her a little bit is odd. I know Frank is supposed to be this super manipulative, charming alien that can get people to do what he wants but even with that, her personality seemed to change so quickly it was a bit unbelievable. She’s also a bit of a hypocrite when she gets so upset about Brad succumbing to Frank’s flirtations when she gave in to them first.
Brad Majors: Brad is the one character that actually frustrated me because I kept switching between finding him hilarious and finding him to be the biggest and most oblivious idiot who ever lived. I don’t believe it has anything to do with Barry Bostwick’s performance — as he did an excellent job overall — but the character was just very annoying to me. How big of an idiot do you have to be to think that all the Transylvanians were just a group of innocent partygoers doing some “folk dancing?” And why is he so chill with being stripped down to his underwear by weird strangers? I think that Janet would be completely justified for blaming Brad for everything that happens to them at Frank’s castle because there were plenty of warning signs that they needed to get the hell out of there that Brad just ignored.
This movie is also filled with some crazy scenes but a few stuck out for me.
The first few song numbers were amazing. The songs are super catchy and I enjoyed how each song had varying levels of foreboding and creepiness that increased as Janet and Brad came closer to meeting Frank. But “Sweet Transvestite” is probably my favorite song in the whole movie simply because Curry’s voice is fantastic, with his great accent and unique pronunciations, and he is just a diva who is flaunting all that he’s got in that number.
Rocky’s creation scene was a little bizarre. They really don’t explain how the whole process worked and I understand that the movie really isn’t picky about scientific details, but I wish that had been a little bit clearer. Frank’s reaction, though, to Rocky’s muscles and overall appearance made up for the murky science because Curry looked like a manic dog in heat.
Eddie’s death, and basically his overall purpose in the film, is still a bit of a mystery to me. I loved his song, and he and Columbia were pretty cute and clearly very attracted to one another, but other than that he seemed like a time-filler. I understand that Frank used half of his brain to make Rocky (some more of that murky science) and locked him in the freezer (where you leave all of your dopey, rock-junkie ex-boyfriends you’ve mutilated, apparently), but why was he necessary? Frank kills him — brutally and with a variety of facial expressions that will haunt my dreams for a while — because he steals his spotlight, but again he really didn’t add much to the plot. There were plenty of other ways to get Dr. Everett V. Scott to the castle without needing Eddie. I just don’t understand.
Frank’s impersonation and player skills in the two seduction scenes are both impressive and absolutely terrifying. The fact that he’s able to impersonate both Brad and Janet so well that each believes him to be their respective partner is a skill I don’t think many possess. Again, as I said before, he has a strange charm about him that draws you in so you could use that as an excuse for Janet and Brad both giving in to his advances, but they really don’t put up much of a fight. I mean, Janet claims to be saving herself for marriage and less than 30 seconds later she gives in with the promise Frank won’t tell Brad. Now either Janet has the willpower of a toddler left alone with a plate of cookies or Frank’s game is just that good.
Janet’s hypocritical revenge sex with Rocky (who is adorable) and all the subsequent scenes are where I started to miss some of the subtler plot points. I missed most of the references to the Transylvanians being aliens, but I really can’t be blamed. I mean there was a bizarre, cannibalistic dinner where Frank decides to use Eddie’s dead and dismembered body as both the entrée and the table. To clarify, he didn’t simply place plates on the body, itself; he was kind enough to place it in a glass-topped coffin and then, of course, he put a tablecloth over it because it was a formal dinner. Then after that startling discovery, Rocky shows some affection for Janet, so Frank bitch slaps her and chases her through the house, assaulting her along the way. I was a bit more focused on these major goings-on, so I think I can be forgiven for missing the alien thing.
The scene where Frank turns everyone into naked statues was weird, but my biggest question concerns the other statues in his lab. Who are they? Are they ex-lovers that pissed him off, too? Or are they just statues? Because at one point a Transylvanian knocks the head off of one, so if they’re all people, that really sucks for that guy.
The movie lost me for the last portion, starting from around the floorshow to the bit where Riff Raff and Magenta come out in their alien garb, which I finally caught on to. I didn’t understand the point of the big dance number and following orgy in the pool. What was the point? Was Frank controlling their actions? How did he dress them? When did Brad learn how to bring his fishnet-clad leg to his ear? There were literally so many questions and I don’t feel like the lyrics really cleared up anything. But the movie was so screwed up by this point that I just went with it and didn’t try to question it too much, even after the entire castle took off back to space.
I did feel that the three deaths were unnecessary. For one thing, Columbia didn’t need to die at all. Regardless of whether she was human or alien (I haven’t made up my mind, though I lean toward human), she didn’t do anything to deserve a laser to the chest. And Rocky was just trying to protect the man who created him, which was sweet in a weird way. Frank was already dead so why did Riff Raff need to try and kill Rocky too? It wasn’t like Rocky was attacking anyone. He was just climbing King Kong style up a radio tower. Where was the danger?
Frank’s death, I feel, wasn’t necessary, but I can see the argument for it. He did murder Eddie, and he technically was holding Brad and Janet hostage as he psychologically, emotionally and occasionally physically tormented them, and depending where you land on the “Are the other statues people too?” debate, he may have turned at least a half-dozen people into statues in his lab, so there is a serious argument for his death. But, again, I still kind of liked him. He’s super twisted, needs some serious therapy, but killing him seemed a bit too far. A lengthy sentence in a prison on the planet Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania would have been a much more appropriate sentence in my opinion.
Overall, I liked it. It’s taken me a few days to process what I watched but as I think about it more, I’m pretty sure I enjoyed it. I’ve found myself humming and singing the songs spontaneously and I have an urge to go back and watch some of my favorite scenes over again. I definitely understand how the film became a cult classic and I think I’ve found a new Halloween staple for me and my friends.