The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Genres - Comedy, Horror, Musical, Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Horror Comedy, Rock Musical, Sex Comedy  |   Run Time - 105 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Derek Armstrong

The shining textbook example of a film so bad it's good, writer/director Jim Sharman's The Rocky Horror Picture Show owns an absolutely unique place in film history, loosely considered the longest-running film of all time. This bawdy and cut-rate Frankenstein story became the definition of "cult classic" when theaters worldwide began offering midnight screenings (a tradition that continues today), attracting legions of decked-out fans to shout lines and throw rice at the screen, often while live performers acted out the plot. The film was quickly enveloped in kitsch, and since has become a well-known phenomenon frequently re-created on-stage, partly on the strength of such gonzo (and overtly sexual) musical numbers as "The Time Warp" and "Sweet Transvestite." The sets and production values are head-shakingly crude, the plot is an absurd haunted house fantasy about transsexual aliens, the writing is so clunky that fans created a supplemental dialogue of sarcastic retorts, and the performances constitute the highest possible camp. But that's what makes it all a dizzy and subversive treat: a melange of poor decisions that equal one outrageous unit of bad cinema. In his first screen role, Tim Curry leads the way and sets a new standard for overacting as the flamboyant mad scientist Frank-N-Furter, with a cast of freakishly dressed bit players filling out the halls of his demented castle, among them singer Meat Loaf. Those unfamiliar with the movie may be surprised to see Susan Sarandon and (to a lesser extent) Barry Bostwick as the impossibly square and terminally heterosexual WASP couple who stumble upon the madness after their car breaks down. Neither a boon nor a specific hindrance to any of the careers involved, The Rocky Horror Picture Show exists as a solitary achievement in unintentional wretchedness, which has earned it slavish devotion and cinematic immortality.