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Rocky Horror Picture Show Bluray Review
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always been something of a guilty pleasure dating back to my teenage years of appearing in am-dram musical revues that were inspired by it because performing rights were always strictly for professional productions until March 2000.
The original show opened in London in the summer of 1973 at the Royal Court’s Theater Upstairs which, ironically, could only seat 63 people, as the 1975 film adaptation has the record for the longest theatrical run in the history of the cinema and must now have been seen by an audience of countless millions worldwide ensuring its continued worship.
Having religiously watched the film as a child on a worn video cassette and owned at least 3 versions of the soundtrack on vinyl by the time it was released on DVD marking its 25th anniversary in 2001, I myself had had 30 years and now I kinda despised it, a dirty little secret from my past that I was ashamed of having invested so much time in; Simon Pegg expressed my exact sentiments in the second episode of Spaced – “It’s a boiling perversion in the bag for sexually repressed accountants and freshman drama students” and for the better part of a decade I was. went out of my mind.
However, my wife is a casual Glee watcher and by chance I saw the recent Rocky Horror Show themed episode marking its 35th anniversary and its release on Blu-ray and found my interest oddly aroused enough to want to see if a redesign of hidef would drastically improve the notoriously low-budget, almost home movie quality of the film. I also wanted to review it to assess if it was truly morally unsuitable for the sweet, virginal members of the Glee Club, as the show’s producers would have you believe, or if it was just an assignment for the purpose. to preserve his ‘kinky congratulations’ for future generations of camp devotees.
I’m happy to report that the 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoding is outstanding, bearing in mind the last time I saw Rocky Horror was on video; what always strikes me most is the impact of the reds and Patricia Quinn’s now-iconic lips in the opening credits have never looked so luscious. The DTS-HD 7.1 soundtrack doesn’t fare so well, while it highlights the songs wonderfully, the dialogue in comparison seems thin and tinny, but luckily there’s also a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track that I found it preferable.
It’s worth noting the wealth of extras here, an excellent commentary from writer/star Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff) and all of the featurettes from the 25th anniversary DVD are included, but the hidef exclusive is picture-in-l ‘picture. ‘shadowcast’ which recreates the entire show shot in glorious HDCAM 1080p/24 with the ability to flip the insert to fill the screen; this is what the episode of Glee should have sounded like instead of a tasteless homage that seemed to miss all the original’s focus by replacing the songs’ more risque lines with mundane alternatives.
I hope the Glee version will inspire new audiences to discover what was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show that appealed to me as a teenager, it encapsulates both a sexual awakening and a loss of innocence and if nothing more encourages curious young minds to think outside the box and embrace diversity, in short live by the pithy ending refrain “Don’t dream, be it”.
It also captures Tim Curry’s outstanding charismatic star turn as the alien Dr. Frank-N-Furter and benefits from the inclusion of Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as naïve All-American couple Brad Majors and Janet Weiss. I suspect it’s yet another symptom of turning 40, but after dismissing it for so long, I felt a real warm glow of nostalgia watching, but not enough to make me want to get up and to redo the “Time Warp”.
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