The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 40th Anniversary Edition
- Street Date:
- September 22nd, 2015
- Reviewed by:
- Bryan Kluger
- Review Date: 1
- October 26th, 2015
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 100 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
I can't believe 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' has been around going on forty years and counting. Not only that, the film is still making money in theaters every week, making this iconic musical the longest running film that still earns money across the country in select movie theaters. It's no doubt why this film has been so successful. Don't get me wrong, the film is bad, but it's also quite amazing and grows on you almost instantly.
I first saw 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' when I was eight years old, and have been a die-hard fan ever since, attending those insane midnight screenings, dressing up, watching the stage play live, and purchasing a variety of memorabilia from the film over the years. Richard O'Brien's music is phenomenal and very catchy and the performances by newcomers at the time, Susan Sarandon, Tim Curry, and Barry Bostwick are highly entertaining and have become legendary. Even music super-star Meatloaf has a song here.
Despite the film's flaws, it still works anytime, anywhere, and with anyone, because if this movie teaches you three things, it's how to do the 'Time Warp', that castles don't have phones, and that every person should be accepted, no matter what you're into.
Five years ago, the studio released the 35th anniversary edition of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' on Blu-ray, which previously was released in a 2-Disc set on DVD. These two editions are what fans of the film have wanted for a long time, which was a newly remastered video in its original aspect ratio, and a glorious sound mix that came in 7.1. In addition to that, the Blu-ray and DVD editions came packed with tons of amazing bonus features. It was an ultimate way to watch the movie without actually being in a theater at midnight.
That all being said, this new 40th anniversary edition of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' is the exact same from top to bottom as the 35th anniversary edition, minus the cover art and a digital download. There is a "giftset" edition of this Blu-ray that comes with the CD soundtrack and a ton of audience participation props, but the Blu-ray disc is the same.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of the 35th anniversary edition of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' from 2010.
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past 40 years, the story of 'Rocky Horror Picture Show,' based on a play of the same general title, is this: Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon), a newly engaged couple from Denton, decide to go visit professor Dr. Scott (Jonathan Adams), who introduced the two in high school.
While traveling, they get held up by rain and enter the scary realm of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a "sweet transvestite" from Transylvania. Soon they're swept up in Frank's crazy world, which includes the creation of a buff, Frankenstein's monster-esque creature named Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood), which involves taking the brain from the hard-rocking Eddie (Meat Loaf) and other craziness.
This being a musical, and a musical that also serves as a pastiche of a number of different genre conventions (in this case, touchstones of science fiction and horror films), plot isn't specifically important, but the songs sure are. One of the reasons the film has lodged itself in the pop culture collective consciousness is the fact that the songs are so damn catchy, and not just when you're making your Halloween mix tape and feel the need to dredge up "The Time Warp."
The toe-tapping tunes, by co-star Richard O'Brien and Richard Hartley, are totally unforgettable, from the opening "Science Fiction Double Feature" to the rockin' Meat Loaf number "Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul" to the climactic and inspirational "Don't Dream It/Be It," the songs are a cut above the normal musical fare, and the way they interact with the deliberately campy and over-the-top storyline just can't be beat.
The central message of 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' is acceptance. Everyone in the film is a freak, even square Brad, and everyone is okay with everyone else. The film has a vaulted sexuality, in which the sky is the limit and partners swap with reckless abandon, but there's an inherent sweetness here. It's hard to understand why the film is rated R, and why people still get so upset about it today. There's a quaint quality to 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' that remains charming and affable.
But does the movie work if you're just watching it on a Saturday afternoon and not in some dank theater at midnight? The answer is: yes. The film works, and it works whenever and wherever you watch it, even if you're not hollering back lines at the television or throwing spools of toilet paper on stage.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
'Rocky Horror' comes to Blu-ray in a big way – a brand new master that gets a 1080p AVC-encoded transfer (1.66:1 aspect ratio). This will make your eyes pop out of your head like a Tex Avery cartoon.
You can tell that a lot of work went into this transfer, but the transfer doesn't ever seem belabored. What's really amazing, though, is that for all of its extensive digital cleaning, there aren't noticeable signs of overt monkeying – there isn't any dreaded DNR to be seen.
There is a fine layer of grain that lends a cinematic quality to the transfer (it's noticeably heavier during the narration sequences), but the overall level of refinement to the transfer is shocking. Colors absolutely pop, skin tones look amazing, detail is great (the costumes look dynamite), and everything just looks a thousand times better than it ever has before. Sincerely.
If you've never seen the movie before, you'll be suitably tickled, but if you've done the time warp again and again and again, this transfer is something slightly short of revelatory. It's a really amazing transfer.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Fox really went all out on the audio for this disc, giving us a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. That's right a 7.1 track!
The mix sounds amazing, even if those extra channels are only occasionally utilized (the movie was original released in mono for crying out loud) for maximum ambience. But still, this mix ROCKS.
Honestly, these songs have never, ever, ever sounded better. If you've seen (and heard) the movie a thousand times before, your ears will still perk up to this new mix. It's really that good. The sounds have an extra bounce, an extra body, a dimensionality that I have never heard either on home video or in the theater. It's enough to make you want to scream "Asshole" at Brad, because you feel like you're a part of that experience so wholly.
And it's not just the jaunty rock n' roll numbers that get you going, no, it's the crispness and clarity of the dialogue, the well-placed (but never obtrusive) sound effects, the way the mix seems to fill the entire sound field (even when it isn't). And this is a 35-year-old film we're talking about here! Amazing stuff!
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
Audio Commentary This commentary, with Richard O'Brien (who co-wrote the movie and plays Riff Raff) and Patricia Quinn (who plays Magenta) is a hoot, obviously. It's very giggly and catty and if you love the spirit of the film, you'll find it translated over to the commentary track. Great stuff.
Two Deleted Musical Scenes (SD, 3:08) These are less complete scenes than sketches, and easily skipped (although for the curious, do take a peek).
Alternate Black and White Opening This is advertised as being "From the Vault" but it's just an option that you can watch the movie with. Basically, the entire front of the movie is in black and white and once they do the "Time Warp," things spring into color. (This is how the film was shown in the UK.)
Alternate Outtakes (SD, 10:02) Some of these are amusing but this is mostly for the curious die-hards.
Alternate Credit Ending and Misprint Ending The alternate credit ending (SD, 3:45) and misprint ending (SD, 1:44) are mostly curiosities, but still worth checking out if you're curious (and a super-fan).
Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show' (SD, 36:25) This is a retrospective documentary about the movie from way back in 1995. Woof. You'll hear all of these stories elsewhere on the disc, but if you need a quick shot of 'Rocky Horror' history, then this is for you!
Beacon Theater 10th Anniversary Showing (SD, 5:26) This looked like bedlam! Well worth a peek!
Time Warp Music Video (SD, 4:41) This is from the 15th Anniversary VHS release and is appropriately cheesy.
Trailers There are two here – a teaser (SD, :30) and a trailer (SD, 2:59). It's interesting to see how the movie was marketed, especially since the fans took it to the level of approval that marketers can only dream of.
Press book Gallery and Poster Gallery The press book is neat because you can go in and read everything in the press book. The poster gallery is pretty self-explanatory.
The Midnight Experience So what this, basically, lets you watch the movie with a number of different options (or all of them at once) – pick your own grab bag of enhanced viewing selections and enjoy the show. There's the Trivia Track, in which anecdotes pop up on the upper left hand corner of the screen; the Vintage Callback Track that is from a 1983 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' screening orchestrated by the fan club president Sal Prio (this is in the upper right hand corner); the Prop Box, in which props that you're supposed to use in the theater (like rice and toilet paper) are given the virtual treatment and you can "throw them" at the screen by pressing enter (this is in the lower left); and then finally, the big daddy of them all – the Late Night, Double Feature, Picture-in-Picture Show, a live "shadow-cast" with actors that were hand chosen from around the world (there's a separate documentary about them; more on that in a minute) – this is in the bottom right. All of these options are absolutely brilliant and the fact that they've specifically allowed you to view these all at once (and spaced them out accordingly throughout the screen) is beyond amazing. This is one of the greatest things to ever hit Blu-ray, as far as I'm concerned.
The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast (HD, 58:14) Imagine a 'Rocky Horror' version of 'American Idol,' and this is it. We see several batches of auditions from around the globe, and after the finest are chosen we see those few whittled down by none other than Barry Bostwick – pretty amazing, indeed.
Rocky-Oke: Sing It! (HD) This is basically just karaoke for all of the musical numbers, with the option of dropping out the vocals from the movie so you can belt them yourselves. I imagine this is perfect for drunk people.
Mick Rock (A Photographer) (HD, 3:36) A brief thing about the on-set photography. Kind of a snooze, but over quickly.
Mick Rock's Picture Show (HD, 3:50) Said photos, self playing.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no HD exclusives here.
Of course, ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ comes Highly Recommended, however, if you already own the 35th anniversary and don’t care about the digital download, then this 40th anniversary version is the same disc. It still has the excellent video and audio presentations, along with tons of great extras, all of which were on the 35th anniversary edition.
- Blu-ray/Digital Copy
- 1080p MPEG-4 AVC
- English 7.1 DTS HD MA
- English SDH, French, Spanish
- Commentary By Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn (Magenta)
- Rocky-oke: Sing It!
- Don’t Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part I
- An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part II
- Mick Rock (A Photographer)
- Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery)
- A Few From The Vault
- Alternate B&W Opening
- Alternate Credit & Misprint Ending
- "Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show" (1995)
- Beacon Theater, New York City (10th Anniversary)
- Time Warp Music Video
- The Midnight Experience
- Pressbook & Poster Gallery
- And More
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