The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

R | 98 or 100-101 mins | Musical, Comedy, Horror | September 1975

Director:

Jim Sharman

Producer:

Michael White

Cinematographer:

Peter Suschitzky

Editor:

Graeme Clifford

Production Designer:

Terry Ackland-Snow

Production Company:

Michael White Productions
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HISTORY

The working title for the film was the title of the musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show . In the opening credits after the production company credits, a mouth with lips painted in bright red lipstick fills the screen singing the opening song. The main credits then appear on a dark screen with lettering that resembles dripping blood. The mouth then returns as a grinning set of teeth under the credit for the music and lyrics. Charles Gray, in the role of the “Criminologist” opens the film, then is seen sporadically throughout the film commenting upon the action which takes place in the recent past. According to a 13 Aug 1974 LAT news item, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger hoped to play the lead role of “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” in the film, but Tim Curry, who created the role in the London, Broadway and Los Angeles versions of the play, was cast, and made his feature film debut in the part. Others who recreated their stage roles were the show’s creator, Richard O’Brien as “Riff Raff,” Patricia Quinn as “Magenta” and Little Nell as “Columbia.” Jonathan Edwards, who created the role of the Criminologist on stage, assumed the role of “Dr. Everett Scott” in the film. The film's production notes state that a nineteenth century British chateau served as a location for the film’s castle.
       The Rocky Horror Show stage show opened in London in Jun 1973 and the film rights were purchased by producer Lou Adler. After a ten month run at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, the show moved to Broadway where ... More Less

The working title for the film was the title of the musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show . In the opening credits after the production company credits, a mouth with lips painted in bright red lipstick fills the screen singing the opening song. The main credits then appear on a dark screen with lettering that resembles dripping blood. The mouth then returns as a grinning set of teeth under the credit for the music and lyrics. Charles Gray, in the role of the “Criminologist” opens the film, then is seen sporadically throughout the film commenting upon the action which takes place in the recent past. According to a 13 Aug 1974 LAT news item, Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger hoped to play the lead role of “Dr. Frank-N-Furter” in the film, but Tim Curry, who created the role in the London, Broadway and Los Angeles versions of the play, was cast, and made his feature film debut in the part. Others who recreated their stage roles were the show’s creator, Richard O’Brien as “Riff Raff,” Patricia Quinn as “Magenta” and Little Nell as “Columbia.” Jonathan Edwards, who created the role of the Criminologist on stage, assumed the role of “Dr. Everett Scott” in the film. The film's production notes state that a nineteenth century British chateau served as a location for the film’s castle.
       The Rocky Horror Show stage show opened in London in Jun 1973 and the film rights were purchased by producer Lou Adler. After a ten month run at the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, the show moved to Broadway where it closed after only a few weeks. The stage show and film spoof old Hollywood horror films and musicals including those directed by Busby Berkeley. The grand finale number, in which Frank forces “Brad,” “Janet” and Columbia to perform onstage, includes an enormous replica of the RKO Radio logo tower trademark.
       Many reviews noted that the film version lacked the freshness and humor of the play and the film did only middling business upon initial release. When theaters began running the film as a late night special, however, the film’s reputation grew quickly among college audiences. A 17 Jan 1977 Box article noted that The Rocky Horror Picture Show had found its niche as a cult film for primarily young audiences who related to the “weird” and “outsider” Transylvanian characters. The article relates that many audience members appeared dressed as film characters and sang aloud with the numbers during the screenings. According to a 22 Jun 1978 HR news item, additional night showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were added at the Los Angeles Tiffany Theater due to heavy ticket demands. A 19 Jul 1978 LAT article detailed the continued weekly crowds attending the late night Tiffany showings of The Rocky Horror Show , with many attending in costumes and performing the “Time Warp” number on stage before the film. A 17 Nov 1978 article in BAM magazine chronicled the developing ritual at late night screenings of the film nationwide where, in addition to many audience members appearing in costume, others used “goods” at certain points in the film, such as throwing rice during the opening wedding, squirting water guns during the rain storm and waving candles or lit matches during “Down at Frankenstein’s.” The article added that this particular practice had to be modified to waving pen flashlights due to the illegality of having an open flame in theaters. Other paraphernalia used by audiences during screenings included snapping rubber gloves, throwing toast, toilet paper, confetti and, occasionally, hot dogs. The article describes how audiences additionally would often yell out lines of dialogue or “respond” to other lines of dialogue making it difficult for first-time viewers to hear the dialogue.
       A 25 Oct 1985 NYT news item marked the tenth anniversary of the film which had been in continual release since its original opening and earned upwards from $60 to $70 million, almost exclusively in late night screenings. A 14 Oct 1990 article in the LAT marked the film’s fifteenth anniversary and labeled it “the most successful cult movie of all time” with similar long-running popularity in England, Australia and Germany. The article noted the film continued to play in 175 theaters across the U. S. and had brought in over $150 million domestically. As of this writing, the film continues in midnight showings and remains the longest continual run movie of all time. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
BAM Magazine
17 Nov 1978
pp. 28-31.
Billboard
9 Nov 1985
p. 6, 87.
Box Office
26 Aug 1974.
---
Box Office
17 Jan 1977.
---
Daily Variety
31 Oct 1974.
---
Daily Variety
17 Sep 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1974
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Nov 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 1975
p. 20.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1975
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 1995.
---
Los Angeles Herald Express
21 Aug 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Aug 1974.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep 1975
Section IV, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
19 Jul 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Oct 1990
Calendar, pp. 7-8, 27-28.
New York Times
9 Mar 1979
p. C1, C9.
New York Times
25 Oct 1985.
---
Variety
24 Sep 1975
p. 22.
Variety
18 Apr 1979.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam focus
Grip
Standby rigger
Chief elec
Still photog
ART DIRECTORS
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Const mgr
Set dresser
Scenic artist
Prop buyer
Prop master
Props
Props
Props
Props
Standby stagehand
Standby painter
Standby carpenter
COSTUMES
Orig cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir and arr
Incidental mus
Mus rec
Principal mus
Principal mus
Principal mus
Principal mus
Principal mus
Principal mus
Principal mus
SOUND
Dubbing mixer
Dubbing ed
Asst dubbing ed
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Based on orig make-up des created by
Hairdresser
Hairdresser
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod secy
Prod's secy
Cont
Casting consultant
UK
Casting consultant
USA
Prod accountant
Accountant asst
Accountant secy
Film processed at
Prod services
Action vehicles
Unit pub
Pub secy
Driver
Driver
Driver
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the musical The Rocky Horror Show by Richard O'Brien (London, 19 Jun 1973).
SONGS
"Science Fiction Double Feature," "Dammit Janet," "Over at the Frankenstein Place," "The Time Warp," "Sweet Transvestite," "The Sword of Damocles," "I Can Make You a Man," "Hot Patootie (Bless My Soul)," "Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me," "Eddie," "Planet," "Rose Tint My World," "Fanfare/Don't Dream It, Be It," "Wild and Untamed Thing" and "I'm Going Home," music and lyrics by Richard O'Brien.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1975
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 26 September 1975
Production Date:
23 October 1974--late January 1975 at Bray Studios, Berkshire, England
Copyright Claimant:
Houtsnede Maatschappi, N.V.
Copyright Date:
26 September 1975
Copyright Number:
LP45461
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastmancolor
Lenses/Prints
De Luxe
Duration(in mins):
98 or 100-101
MPAA Rating:
R
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A Criminologist examines a case book on recent, unusual events in the state of Ohio: In Denton, ingenuous couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, attend the November wedding of friends Betty Munroe and Ralph Hapshatt, oblivious to the strange officiating priest and odd looking guests. Although Brad is uneasy when Janet catches the wedding bouquet, he insists that he loves her and they both look forward to their own marriage. After the ceremony, Brad and Janet proceed to a meeting with their old high school science teacher, Dr. Everett V. Scott, but by nightfall their progress is slowed by a fierce thunderstorm and a flat tire. Brad stoutly vows to go for help alone, but Janet points out they have no idea where they are, so should proceed together. As they recall passing a castle-like house down the road, the couple makes their way there, ignoring the warning signs around the property. As they peer up through the rain at a single lit window in the castle, several motorcyclists, many of whom had passed them earlier on the road, roar onto the grounds and disappear around the back. The doorbell is answered by a pale, hunchbacked man who informs the nervous couple that he is a servant, Riff Raff. Inside, Brad and Janet gape at the Gothic design and, hearing sounds of a distant party, learn they have arrived on a special night. Waving away Brad’s request to use a telephone, Riff Raff and his sister Magenta, a maid, escort the couple to a large ballroom where several bizarrely dressed guests dance and sing enthusiastically. A banner across a ... +


A Criminologist examines a case book on recent, unusual events in the state of Ohio: In Denton, ingenuous couple, Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, attend the November wedding of friends Betty Munroe and Ralph Hapshatt, oblivious to the strange officiating priest and odd looking guests. Although Brad is uneasy when Janet catches the wedding bouquet, he insists that he loves her and they both look forward to their own marriage. After the ceremony, Brad and Janet proceed to a meeting with their old high school science teacher, Dr. Everett V. Scott, but by nightfall their progress is slowed by a fierce thunderstorm and a flat tire. Brad stoutly vows to go for help alone, but Janet points out they have no idea where they are, so should proceed together. As they recall passing a castle-like house down the road, the couple makes their way there, ignoring the warning signs around the property. As they peer up through the rain at a single lit window in the castle, several motorcyclists, many of whom had passed them earlier on the road, roar onto the grounds and disappear around the back. The doorbell is answered by a pale, hunchbacked man who informs the nervous couple that he is a servant, Riff Raff. Inside, Brad and Janet gape at the Gothic design and, hearing sounds of a distant party, learn they have arrived on a special night. Waving away Brad’s request to use a telephone, Riff Raff and his sister Magenta, a maid, escort the couple to a large ballroom where several bizarrely dressed guests dance and sing enthusiastically. A banner across a stage describes the gathering as the Annual Transylvania Convention. Janet swoons over the weird assembly but, recovering, urges Brad to find a telephone. They are interrupted however, by the arrival of a heavily made-up man in an elegant black cape and platform boots who descends from a small elevator to introduce himself as Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania. Not recognizing Frank, Magenta and several others as the priest and guests at the wedding, Brad and Janet remain transfixed when Frank twirls off his cape to reveal he is wearing a chic black corset, garter belt and hose. Ordering Riff Raff, Magenta and another assistant, Columbia, to see to the drenched couple’s comfort, Frank then invites them up to his laboratory. Startled to be stripped to their underwear, Brad and Janet reluctantly join Frank in the lab as several excited guests line a viewing platform above. Having donned a green lab coat and clutching a pink pair of rubber gloves and glass of champagne, Frank declares that he has learned the secret of life and announces his greatest achievement in biochemical resection. Pulling back a curtain, Frank displays a plaster figure floating in liquid in a large glass case, then throws several switches which send power surging into the figure. The witnesses gasp when moments later the figure rises to reveal a strapping, handsome, blonde-haired young man whom the delighted Frank christens Rocky Horror. Everyone is impressed, but when a jealous Columbia will only admit that Rocky is “ok,” Frank retorts that Rocky was not made for her. Frank then presents the childlike Rocky with several body-building devices and promises to make him a man. Moments later, there is a crash from a deep freeze unit and a man on a motorcycle crashes forth. The man, Eddie, a former delivery boy who Frank once loved, is covered in scars as part of his brain was used to create Rocky. While Eddie drives around the lab lamenting his fall from Frank’s favor, Frank places Rocky in the lift, then, to everyone’s shock, turns on Eddie with an ice pick and stabs him to death. Undaunted, Frank then joins Rocky in his boudoir. Although most of the guests depart, Brad and Janet are invited to remain and placed in separate rooms. To Janet’s surprise, Brad slips into her darkened room and starts to seduce her when she realizes that it is Frank disguised as Brad. Initially shocked, Janet soon finds that she cannot refuse his advances. A little later, Brad is startled when Janet creeps into his darkened room to seduce him, then is horrified to discover that Frank has disguised himself as Janet. Like Janet, Brad is strangely unable to resist Frank’s charms. Meanwhile, Riff Raff harasses the uncomprehending Rocky who, unable to find Frank, runs outside into the pouring rain. Discomfited by the evening’s experiences, Janet goes in search of Brad only to see him on a lab monitor in bed with Frank. Discovering that Rocky is in his water tank quaking and bleeding from Riff Raff’s mistreatment, Janet comforts him and, overcome by Rocky’s physical magnetism, seduces him. When Frank discovers that Riff Raff has tormented Rocky, he whips his assistant as Brad watches. They are interrupted by the arrival of the wheelchair-bound Dr. Everett Scott, who Frank believes investigates UFOs for the government. After Brad acknowledges that he knows Dr. Scott, Frank grows suspicious that Brad and Janet are Scott’s spies. Surprised to find Brad at the castle, Scott insists that he has come in search of his nephew, Eddie. Doubtful, Frank nevertheless calls for an impromptu late night meal for Scott, who now fears the worst for Eddie as he recognizes that Frank and the others are aliens from the galaxy of Transylvania. As everyone dines on a sumptuous roast, Frank reveals that they are eating Eddie’s remains. Sickened, Columbia departs the dining room before Frank throws aside the table to reveal Eddie’s mutilated body. Hysterical, Janet flees to the lab, followed by Rocky and Frank who warns her to control herself. Brad meanwhile escorts Scott to the lab where Frank freezes each of them to the floor. Although unable to move, Scott questions Frank about whether he really has a transducer that breaks up human matter and sends it out into space. Terrified, Janet demands to know if Frank is going to send them into space. In response, Frank orders Magenta to throw the “Medusa” switch which turns Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott into statues. After dressing each nude statue in boas and corsets, Frank places them on a stage and, returning them to live forms, demands that they perform a cabaret number. Columbia joins them once the curtain opens, revealing a large radio tower and swimming pool in which everyone but Scott throws themselves. As Scott struggles to break free of Frank’s mesmerizing influence to help the others, they obey Frank’s command of “don’t dream it, be it,” and begin an orgy in the pool. The activity is interrupted by the appearance of Riff Raff and Magenta, dressed in their native costumes, insisting upon returning home to Transsexual immediately. Although Frank professes to long for home, Riff Raff suspects he is reluctant to leave earth and orders Frank to bid the humans farewell. Realizing Riff Raff plans to kill Frank if he interferes with the departure, Columbia screams a warning, but is shot down by Riff Raff’s laser gun. When Frank tries to escape, Riff Raff turns the laser gun on him, to Rocky’s dismay. Wailing over Frank’s lifeless body, Rocky then carries the corpse up the radio tower, his superior body withstanding several laser blasts before the tower collapses, plunging him into the pool. In the stunned silence that follows Riff Raff asserts that none of his now-dead comrades ever liked him. Scott praises Riff Raff for his bold action, prompting the alien to apologize about Eddie before telling the doctor, Brad and Janet that they are free to go. When the trio reaches the road outside of the castle, they watch in amazement as the entire building lifts off and flies off into the darkened sky. Bewildered and shocked by their experience, Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott stumble about in the smoky debris of the house-spaceship. In the present, the Criminologist closes the case book and reflects that, in the face of contact with aliens, the human race remains lost in time and space. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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