The Rocky Horror Picture Show

The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jim Sharman
Produced by Lou Adler
Michael White
Written by Richard O'Brien
Jim Sharman
Starring Tim Curry
Susan Sarandon
Barry Bostwick
Richard O'Brien
Patricia Quinn
Nell Campbell
Jonathan Adams
Peter Hinwood
Meat Loaf
Charles Gray
Music by Richard O'Brien
Richard Hartley
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Editing by Graeme Clifford
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date(s) August 14, 1975 (1975-08-14)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget US$1.2 million
Box office US$139.8 million

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the 1975 film adaptation of the British rock musical stageplay, The Rocky Horror Show, written by Richard O'Brien. The film is a parody of B-movie, science fiction and horror films of the late 1940s through early 1970s. Director Jim Sharman collaborated on the screenplay with O'Brien, who wrote both the book and lyrics for the stage. The film introduces Tim Curry and features Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick along with cast members from the original Kings Road production presented at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1973.

Still in limited release 38 years after its premiere, it has the longest-running theatrical release in film history. It gained notoriety as a midnight movie in 1977 when audiences began participating with the film in theatres. Rocky Horror is the first film from a major Hollywood studio to be in the midnight movie market. The motion picture has a large international cult following and is one of the most well known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".



The story, narrated by a criminologist, tells the tale of 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. Seeking a phone with which to call for help at a nearby castle, Brad and Janet discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They watch as the Transylvanians, servants, and a tap dancing groupie dance the film's signature song, "Time Warp".

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 include servants Riff Raff, his sister/lover Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia.

Frank claims to have discovered the "secret to life itself." His creation, Rocky Horror, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie, an ex-delivery boy, partial brain donor to Rocky, and Columbia's lover, who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. In a jealous rage, Frank corners him and kills him with an ice axe. He then departs with Rocky to a bridal suite off of the laboratory.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms where each is visited and seduced by Frank, who poses as Brad and then Janet in order to trick the real Brad and Janet into sex. Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, who she discovers is with Frank via a television monitor. She then discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While tending to Rocky's wounds, Janet seduces him, while Magenta and Columbia watch from their bedroom monitor.

After discovering that his creature is missing, Frank, Brad, and Riff Raff return to the lab, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie, but Frank suspects that Dr. Scott investigates UFOs for the government. Upon learning of Brad and Janet's connection to Scott, Frank suspects them of working for him. 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.

Rocky and the guests are served dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's mutilated body. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms and is slapped and chased through the halls of the castle by a jealous Frank. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, transforming them into statues. They are then forced to perform a live cabaret floor show and have a short makeout session in the pool, with Frank as the leader.

The performance is interrupted by Riff Raff and Magenta, who stage a coup and announce their plan to return to the planet of Transsexual in the galaxy of Transylvania. In the process, they kill Columbia, Rocky, and Frank. They release Brad, Janet, and Dr. Scott, and then depart by lifting off in the Castle itself.

The narrator then finishes the film by concluding that man is alone—insects crawling on the planet's surface.



Oakley Court has been refurbished and is now a hotel.

The film was shot at Bray Studios and Oakley Court, a country house in Berkshire, from October 21, 1974, to December 19, 1974. Filming of the laboratory scene and the title character's creation occurred on October 30, 1974.[1]

The film's plot, setting, and style echoes that of the Hammer Horror films, which had their own instantly recognizable style (just as Universal Studios' horror films did), and is reminiscent of the Hammer production of The Revenge of Frankenstein starring Peter Cushing.[2]

The castle is known for a number of Hammer films. A great deal of location shooting took place there. At the time, the manor was in a very dilapidated condition. Filming took place during autumn, which made conditions harsh. During filming, Susan Sarandon fell ill with pneumonia; she recovered after a few days. In 1979 refurbishment began on Oakley Court and the building is now a luxury hotel.

In the stage productions, actors generally did their own make-up, but for this film the producers chose Pierre La Roche to redesign the make-up for each character (he had previously designed make-up for David Bowie). Production stills were taken by 1970s rock photographer Mick Rock, who has published many calendars and photo books from his Rocky Horror work.


The film is considered to be the longest-running release in film history.[3] It has never been pulled by 20th Century Fox from its original 1975 release, and it continues to play in cinemas 36 years later. Some cinemas showing the film have run it for decades at a time. There are two basic versions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, known as the US and UK releases. The UK version contains the original ending with the full version of the musical number "Super Heroes." The US version, created after the film hit the midnight circuit, omits "Super Heroes," as the studio thought it was too depressing.

A Super 8 version of selected scenes of the film was made available.[4] On August 2, 2010, The Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Club announced the release of the 35th Anniversary edition Blu-ray in the US for October 19, 2010. The disc includes a newly-created 7.1 surround sound mix, a mono sound mix, and a 4K/2K image transfer from the original camera negative. In addition, new content featuring karaoke and an all-star shadow cast performance are included.[5]


The film opened in the US at the USA Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, on September 32, 1975. It did well at that location, but not elsewhere.[6] The cult following did not begin until the film began its midnight run at the Waverly Theatre in New York on April 1, 1976.[7]

Before the success of the midnight screenings, the film was withdrawn from its eight opening cities due to very small audiences, and its planned New York opening (on Halloween night) was cancelled.[8] Fox re-released it around college campuses on a double-bill with another rock music film parody, Brian De Palma's Phantom of the Paradise, but again it drew small audiences.[8] With Pink Flamingos (1972) and Reefer Madness (1936) making money in midnight showings nationwide, RHPS was eventually screened at midnight, starting in New York City on April Fools' Day of 1976.[8] By that Halloween, people were attending in costume and talking back to the screen. By mid-1978, RHPS was playing in over 50 locations on Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, newsletters were published by local performance groups, and fans gathered for Rocky Horror conventions.[8] By the end of 1979, there were twice-weekly showings at over 230 theatres.[8]

Based on 37 reviews collected by Rotten Tomatoes, 76% of the critics enjoyed The Rocky Horror Picture Show. On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from film critics, it has a rating score of 55, indicating "mixed or average reviews". The film has taken in US$139,876,417 at the US box office since its release. The length of its run in cinemas (weekly for over 30 years), combined with its considerable total box office gross, is unparalleled by any other film. The original budget for the film was US$1,200,000 (estimated).

The American television network Fox Broadcasting aired the film's much-publicized US television premiere on October 25, 1993. The film's popularity breathed new life to the stage production, which had had a 45-performance run on Broadway early in 1975 at the Belasco Theatre.

Sequels and scripts

In 1981, Jim Sharman reunited with O'Brien to do Shock Treatment.[9] This standalone feature was not a direct sequel to the original film; it told the continuing story of Brad (Cliff DeYoung) and Janet (Jessica Harper) following their marriage. Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Charles Gray, and Nell Campbell appeared in the film, playing different characters. Only Jeremy Newson appears in the sequel as the same character, Ralph Hapschatt. The original script was titled Rocky Horror Shows His Heels and began as a direct sequel, until the idea was changed because of the unavailability of some of the original cast. The story was changed as well as the title, becoming first The Brad and Janet Show and finally Shock Treatment. The film did not make money and the critics blasted it, saying it was not as wild as the original "Rocky Horror" film.

A few years later, O'Brien wrote another script intended as a direct sequel to the cult classic entitled Revenge of the Old Queen. Producer Michael White had hoped to begin work on the production and described the script as being "... in the same style as the other one. It has reflections of the past in it."[10]

MTV Films and Sky Movies were planning to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show.[11] The network was planning a two-hour-long remake to be based on the original screenplay and featuring songs not included in the original. The film was initially anticipated to have been released sometime around Halloween 2009. O'Brien was not involved; he has said that while he has no opinion on whether the film should be remade, the MTV production did not have his blessing.[12][13] Later in 2008, MTV announced that there would be no remake.


The soundtrack from The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released in 1975 by Ode Records, produced by Richard Hartley. The album peaked at No. 49 on the Billboard 200 in 1978.[14] It reached No. 40 on the Australian albums chart[15] and No. 11 on the New Zealand albums chart.[16] William Ruhlmann of Allmusic gave the album a star rating of five stars out of five and described it as the "definitive version of the [Rocky Horror] score."[17]

35 years later, Glee: The Music, The Rocky Horror Glee Show debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 the week of October 27, 2010, with 48,000 copies sold, the lowest debut and sales for the cast in the United States.[18] This debut made Glee the first television series to have six or more soundtracks chart in the chart's top ten, and marked the highest position ever reached for a Rocky Horror album. As of April 2011, the EP is Glee's lowest-selling in the US, with 160,000 copies.

Homages and Parodies

  • One of the promos for 3rd Rock from the Sun had the cast aping the "Time Warp" song.
  • The Boondocks[disambiguation needed ] had an RHPS-style spoof which lampooned Tyler Perry.
  • The entire 5th episode of the second season of Glee was dedicated to The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • In an episode of That '70s Show, entitled "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die", Fez dresses up as Frank-N-Furter for Halloween.
  • An episode of Cold Case featured music and clips from the movie and a guest appearance by Barry Bostwick as a serial killer.
  • In the episode "Return to Spider Skull Island" of The Venture Brothers the main characters attended a screening.

See also


  1. ^ Henkin (1979), p. 16
  2. ^ Harpole, Charles (5 November 1999). History of the American cinema. Charles Scribner's Sons; 1 edi. pp. 212–213. ISBN 978-0684804637. 
  3. ^ "Fox Celebrates 25 Years of Absolute Pleasure, Pop Culture Phenomenon and Midnight Classic" (Press release). RHPS Official Fan Site. 24 August 2000. Retrieved 13 June 2007. 
  4. ^ Piro & Hess (1991), p. 77
  5. ^ "RHPS Official Fan Site: News: Press Release". Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Henkin (1979), p. 25
  7. ^ Henkin (1979), p. 26
  8. ^ a b c d e Samuels (1983), p. 11
  9. ^ Winters, Hughs, Jessica, Loyd. The Rough Guide to Film. Penquin publishing. pp. 506. ISBN 9781405384988. 
  10. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence (13 September 1991). "'Rocky Horror' to 'Queen'". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  11. ^ Frankel, Daniel (23 July 2008). "MTV Readies 'Rocky Horror' Redux". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved 11 February 2008. 
  12. ^ "Rocky Remake Leaves O'Brien Cold". BBC News (BBC). 14 August 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2010. 
  13. ^ Frankel, Daniel (15 September 2009). "MTV Nixes 'Rocky Horror' Remake". The Wrap (The Wrap News Inc.). Retrieved 2 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "The Rocky Horror Picture Show > Charts & Awards", Allmusic (Rovi Corporation),, retrieved 3 October 2010 
  15. ^ "The Rocky Horror Picture Show (album)", Australian charts portal (Hung Medien),, retrieved 3 October 2010 
  16. ^ "The Rocky Horror Picture Show (album)", New Zealand charts portal (Hung Median),, retrieved 3 October 2010 
  17. ^ Ruhlmann, William, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show > Review", Allmusic (Rovi Corporation),, retrieved 3 October 2010 
  18. ^ Caulfield, Keith (October 27, 2010). "Sugarland Tops Kings of Leon on Billboard 200". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 


  • Hallenbeck, Bruce (2009). Comedy-Horror Films. Jefferson: McFarland. ISBN 9780786433322. 
  • Harpole, Charles (1990). History of the American Cinema. New York: Scribner. ISBN 9780684804637. 
  • Henkin, Bill (1979). The Rocky Horror Picture Show Book. New York: Hawthorn Books. ISBN 9780801564369. 
  • Leitch, Thomas (2002). Crime Films. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521646710. 
  • Piro, Sal; Hess, Michael (1991). The Official Rocky Horror Picture Show Audience Par-tic-i-pation Guide. London: Stabur Press. ISBN 094161316X. 
  • Samuels, Stuart (1983). Midnight Movies. New York: Collier Books. ISBN 002081450X. 
  • Sandys, Jon (2007). Movie Mistakes Take 5. London: Virgin Books. ISBN 9780753511138. 

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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