Its status as the ultimate midnight movie unassailable, Rocky Horror has become critic-proof by this point, because people who love this campy musical and its accompanying audience-participation circus couldn’t care less whether the film meets anyone’s standard of “quality cinema.” Seen with the right crowd, Rocky Horror is a blast, because exuberant fans in fishnets cavort onstage while toast flies through the theater and everyone interacts with the movie’s dialogue. Seen without a crowd at all, the movie loses much of its appeal, if not its debauched singularity. The insipid story, which writer-costar Richard O’Brien and director-cowriter Jim Sharman transposed from O’Brien’s stage musical, is a pervy mash-up of horror-flick clichés, replacing the usual mad scientist with Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a “sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania.” (That’s the planet Transylvania, of course.) The songs are fun, especially the irresistible “Time Warp,” but the jokes are groaners and the wink-wink “we know we’re in a bad movie” vibe gets tiresome. Still, enthusiastic performances abound. Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon play Brad and Janet, white-bread paramours who fall into Frank-N-Furter’s lascivious clutches, and both actors vigorously sell the movie’s gimmicks. Sarandon also looks amazing, spending much of the picture in various states of undress. Meat Loaf sings the hell out of his small role as Eddie, an unlucky biker, and Charles Gray is droll as the movie’s caustic narrator. But it’s really Tim Curry’s movie, because he’s outrageous as Frank-N-Furter. A drag queen with bulging eyes and an overripe libido, Frank-N-Furter might be cinema’s most cheerfully obscene character. So while Rocky Horror may not be “quality cinema,” it delivers enough demented pleasure that it’s worth seeing at least once—especially with diehard fans who know the movie’s raunchy routines by heart.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: FREAKY