Friday, May 13, 2011

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman)

Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his minions.

"Didn't we pass a castle back down the road a few miles? Maybe they have a telephone I could use." Said Brad Majors, a hero. A very cliched line from hundreds of horror films to fundamentally begin a complication. And from that so begins the crazy night in Frank-N-Furter's gothic castle and the fun of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" as a whole, filled with hilarity, horror and sexual innuendos that is also an out-of-this world ode to the cheesy greatness of B-movies.

'Frankly' (He. He. He he.) speaking, 'cult' films, like this one, are really very hard to scrutinize based on pros and cons as they aren't merely just films alone. Like "Star Wars", "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is an unsurpassed phenomenon that blurs the borders between 'cinema' and pop culture. Through the years, it ceased to be just a film but also an embodiment of the numerous taboos of the 70's and at the same time, the era's uncontrolled, raging energy. To look at the film's (based on a stage play) ideas, characters, and set designs, it's hard to imagine all of it being created by sane minds. A distant galaxy called Transylvania and a planet named Transsexual? A cross-dressing scientist? Lots of eccentric grotesques? Coming from a perverted disposal, more like.

But from these seemingly outrageous thematic excesses and far-fetched conceptual liberties arises a balanced treatment of the musically ordered and the characteristically absurd. With Tim Curry's amazing, awe-inspiring depiction of a free-willing transsexual scientist who creates his ultimate hedonistic object that is 'Rocky Horror' (played by Peter Hinwood) and Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick's portrayal of a gullible, naive and repressed young couple, the film, directed by Jim Sharman, has achieved to pit two opposites.

We may be abhorred, disgusted and repelled by Frank-N-Furter's unorthodox sexuality and all, but it is perfectly contrasted by the straight-laced couple. We may see weird dance numbers amid surrealistic backdrops but they were viewed through the considerably unknowing eyes of Sarandon and Bostwick's characters. Decadence and innocence. Both contained in a colorful, gothic and occasionally shocking musical bizarre fest. Oh, how it delivered immensely.

Sure, the whole film is pure outlandishness just for the sake of it, but with Charles Gray's (by the way, he has played both an ally and a villain in the James Bond franchise) semi-profound statements, mostly told in intervals, about the emotional capacity of human beings only meagerly connected to the quick peripherals of persuasion (which Frank-N-Furter took advantage of), the film has also tread something other than music and choreography.

Sure, these can be nothing but cynic cliches commonly heard from many films dealing with pessimistic outlooks about human existence, but it sure fired away to fully complement the immoral undercurrents of the film. We may succumb to LSS, singing "Whatever Happened to Saturday Night?" and "Sweet Transvestite" at the back of our minds, but the film, as a cinematic entirety, exposes the emotional and sexual repression prevalent on many people dealing with the same situational predicament as in the film.

Tragic, fun, mischievous, even weirdly sexy, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" is, after all these years, still a refreshing cinematic experience partly because of it's aghast-inspiring perspective about the futility of human control caught in the middle of an enticing prospect for dissipation. But also, quite simply, because the film is just so much fun to behold.


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