Episode 64 – Rocky Horror Show Live (2015)

or “It’s Not Easy Having a Good Time”

Featuring: David “Jerry Springer: the Opera” Bedella , Haley Flaherty , Ben “Jesus Christ Superstar – Live Arena Tour” Forster

Director: Christopher “Theater director guy” Luscombe

Writer: Richard “Shock Treatment” O’Brien

Origin: UK

Review_____

“Society must be protected!”

In honor of today’s episode, I’ll be holding The Tomb’s first ALL NUDE REVIEW!… which basically just means that I’ll be doing all of the viewing and typing and screen caps and editing while butt-ass nekkid! Which I technically do all the time anyway. Yes, everybody, it’s time to come clean: Anubis is Anudist. *rimshot*

After 40 years, it’s time to do the Time Warp again!

Well, I say “again”, but there’s a very populous group of fans that have been keeping Richard O’Brien’s (demented) brain child alive and well since its debut via midnight movie viewings, shadow cast shows, conventions, and reproductions of the original “The Rocky Horror Show” stage play that gave birth to its cinematic offspring. In honor of the movie’s big 4-0, O’Brien collaborated with noted stage director (I’m presuming, as I know shit all about the world of the stage beyond seeing “Evil Dead: the Musical” and “Re-Animator: the Musical” off-off-Broadway) Christopher Luscombe to put together a production of The Show in London for the first time since it’s original showing! Which is kinda weird since the original show premiered in 1973, so it seems a 40th anniversary gala for said stage performance would’ve been better held in 2013 instead…

The BBC broadcast the performance a little over a week ago, which is why I’m able to complain about it here today! Thank the BBC, kids. “Thanks, the BBC!”

My background on Rocky Horror reads as follows: I’ve seen the movie a few dozen times (not bad for someone who generally treats movies as a single-serving entertainment experience), including a regular midnight screening and a full-on shadow cast. I’ve never seen the original play version though, so I guess that technically makes me a Rocky Horror Show virgin all over again going into this. For those unfamiliar with the legend of the Rocky Horror (for shame, you gods damned philistines!), it’s not about that time noted Doctor of Punchology, Rockford P. Balboa, fought the fightingest fight of his fightin’ life against Jason Vorhees to avenge the time Big J punched the head of off Apollo Creed’s nephew during his weekend in Manhattan (*cough*Vancouver*cough*). Just give me your hand and let me lead you down the dark paths of this magical forest of preversion, self-empowerment, and “puuuure imaginaaaaation”.

Oh, and despite this broadcasting just a week ago, there will be blood(y spoilers) ahead for this episode, since the movie it mirrors has been around for four friggin’ decades. GOYA (Get off your ass)!

Our tale takes place in the bygone era of the early ’70s. In the waning days of the Nixon presidency/shame parade, and during the birth years of such classic manufactured horrors as The Exorcist and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The heroes/victims of our story are Brad Majors (Ben Forster) and Janet Weiss (Haley Flaherty) – a disgustingly pleasant pairing of wholesome Americana college kids who look like they fell off of a Norman Rockwell TV tray. Following their mutual friends’ wedding, Brad proposed to his virginal flower and the two are now newly engaged. Head over heels (not literally, as they’re saving that for the honeymoon) with the proceedings, the kids make it a point to share the good news by paying a visit to their favorite college professor, Dr. Everett Scott (Richard Meek… huh huh, “Dick Meek”), in whose class they first met. On the way to Dr. Scott’s place, on a dark and stormy night, their car has a blow out and they’re forced to seek shelter in hopes of finding a phone to call for a tow at a nearby castle (looks more like a mansion if you ask me…not that you did). Or, as Brad presumes it to be upon their entrance, “A hunting lodge for rich weirdos”.

A lanky, twisted, heroin chic, Igorian mutant named RiffRaff (Kristian Lavercombe) that serves as the butler/groundskeeper/handyman invites the straight-laced nerds in, where they discover a party’s being held by a bunch of festive oddballs wearing tuxedos and sunglasses. Amidst them, Riffster’s sister, the mansion’s castle’s maid Magenta (Jayde Westaby, who also sings the show’s opening and closing theme “Science Fiction/Double Feature” dressed as an usherette) and an overly excitable party girl/groupie named Columbia (Sophie Linder-Lee). After the trio of non-extras leads the young couple in a song-and-dance lesson through their favorite trot “The Time Warp”, the mansion’s castle’s owner injects himself into the festivities with a grand sing-and-strut of his own. Dr. Frank-N-Furter (David Bedella, who’s in ridiculously good shape for a dude in his early-50s!) is, in his own words (well, lyrics), “not much of a man by the light of the day”. But that’s okay, because we’re told that once the sun goes down he transmogrifies into “one hell of a lover”. I guess that means he’s a sex werewolf?

Frank’s also a self-proclaimed sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania. Not a gender-bender convention in Count Dracula’s hometown, Transsexual is actually (but not really) a planet in the galaxy of Transylvania. And what are these extraterrestrial perverts doing on our planet? I think they’re supposed to be spying on the US government, but Frank’s more interested in gorging himself on the many sexual flavors of the indulgence buffet known as the human race. Following his introductory “Sweet Transvestite” song, Frank invites Brad and Janet to join he and the rest of the party guests in his laboratory (not lavatory), where he’ll introduce them to his new pet project…after the kids have been stripped down to their tighty-whities, so as to not catch cold in their wet clothes… ?

F-Bomb’s latest experiment in the field of deviance is a DIY boy toy named Rocky Horror (Dominic Andersen), whom the mad doctor built to satisfy all of his macho muscleman fantasies. He looks more than a little like Gordon Scott as Tarzan, what with his oiled-up muskles and leopard print briefs. Upon giving life to his Speedo sporting Frankenstein fetish freak, Dr. F sings a lovely song to him about how eager he is to deflower the 5 minute old bodybuilder, but the shenanigans are interrupted by Frank’s former boyfriend Eddie (ol’ Dick Meek again), who breaks out of a cryogenic freeze (that Frank put him in) to jump around and sing about how much he loves Rock ‘N Roll and “hot patootie”. He means ass, right? He’s not talking about potatoes? I mean, I’m with him in either case, I just wanted to confirm the inference Edward’s going for.

After his solo segment is complete, Ed’s gone just as soon as he’d arrived, stalked screaming back into the walk-in freezer by a pickaxe wielding Frank to what we can only assume a messy doom. Columbia, who we learned is Eddie’s girlfriend (well, ex-girlfriend, situationally), screams in mourning at losing her man for a second time due to Frank’s corrupting and psychotic influence. Having had enough excitement for one night, Frank retires from the festivities to his Honeymoon Suite with Rocks in tow, while Brad and Janet are shown their separate rooms. The doctor shows them both his bedside manner, though, as he sneaks in on each pretending to be their significant others under the sheets and seduces them, starting with Jpeg then moving on to B-rad. Both resist at first, but both also end up giving in to the prevert’s persuasive powers after a few short moments of “Doesn’t it feel nice?” and “I promise not to tell your partner that you were easier to bang than a girl on Cosby candies”.

Janet regrets her decision, wondering if she’s still worthy of Bradley now that she’s no longer able to wear a white wedding dress in good conscience. Her remorse is soon cured though, when she witnesses Brad getting Frank-N-Furter’s frankfurter in his cornhole. Confused and likely disturbed at the idea that her fiance might prefer the company of men (Homer: “Who doesn’t?!”), she grabs the nearest dick (in this case, Rocky’s) and has a distraction ride, embracing her sexuality and going from virgin-to-sexpot almost immediately. As she sings, she’s tasted blood and she wants more (more! MORE!).

No, she’s not a vampire. It’s a metaphor. She means she’s a dick fiend now.

Dr. FNF’s afterglow post lightening of Brad’s load is interrupted by Riff, warning the Boss that there’s an intruder in the mansion castle. Said intruder? Why, it’s Dr. Scott! Yep. The wheelchair bound professor that B&J were seeking out when this all started just happens to have made his way over to “the Frankenstein place”! Frank captures the mustachioed meddler with a high-powered magnet, but as he’s explaining what business it is that brought him here, the cavorting Jan and Rock’s infidelitous actions are unveiled in front of everybody! After a bout of shouting each others names (Janet! Brad! Janet! Dr. Scott! Rocky!), the awkward moment is interrupted by Magenta, declaring that dinner is prepared! At least in the movie.

Yeah, sorry to say that the amazing dinner scene of the “Picture” rendition of The Show is not a thing in this stage version. Bummer.

Scotty sings about how Eddie was a good-but-troubled boy who get wrapped up with the wrong people, after which Frank freaks out everyone by revealing Eddie’s remains (under glass like a carved turkey in the movie, or as a garbage bag full of meat that gets Hot Potato-ed in the play). Accusations start to fly with Frank accusing B&J of being spies working with Dr. Scott (who is implied to be a former Nazi scientist!), who are there to steal the secrets of his mad science. Speaking of, Frank ensnares them with his Transducer (it will seduce ya) machine, turning them into statues. He tells his minions to prepare their guests for some grand scheme, but Columbia goes rogue (not Anna Paquin) and stands up to the doc only to join the others, leaving Riff and Mags to do the grunt work…after they do some bizarro incestuous Lambada elbow shit. Great for a secret handshake, just not with a family member.

The captives are dressed up like extras from The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and do a big number with Frank centered around not being ashamed of your desires and making your dreams your reality. This meeting of the Mutual Admiration Society is interrupted by Raffie and Maggie though, who declare a mutiny against the one-man bacchanal that is their captain. Their first order of business? To pack up everything and head back to Transsexual. Frank’s oddly cool with the idea, and sings a soliloquy about going back home, but has his good day chewed up and barfed out when RiffTrax clarifies that he was only referring to himself and Magenta going back. Dr. Furter is to remain on Earth…”in spirit, anyway”.

Columbia dies first, zapped to death with RiffRaff’s ray gun, before he gives Dr. F some of the same. Rocky too is executed when he tries to protect his fallen master. Scotty commends the new commander (you now are his prisoner!) on doing what he had to do, for the good of “society”. Riff replies by telling the normies to get the fuck out, hissing “Gooooo…. nowwwww!” before launching the mansion castle into outer space. Brad, Janet, and Dr. S are left in the rubble that remains (a metaphor for their own broken lives) wondering how they’ll deal with the can of Graboid sized worms that a night with a cross dressing extraterrestrial sex pest opened for them…

Such is the story, now what about the stage show? Well, if you’re like me and you’re going in expecting it to mirror the movie, you’re gonna have a bad time. This is way more sing-songy than Picture Show. It feels more like Grease than the Rocky Horror I know and love. That undercurrent of menace and macabre that RHPS gave us is softened to the point that there’s no dread here. The whole production feels almost overproduced, giving it the weird air of an awards show, what with the more upbeat music, applauding audience and commercial breaks.

Though I love the audience participation of the film (it’s the progenitor of riffing! And it features a guy named RiffRaff!), the crowd for this live performance does the same and it actually kinda pokes the show in the eyes. According to an interview with BBC (as seen here – http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-33715874), O’Brien isn’t the biggest fan of said interaction, as it threatens to overshadow the show and can turn off Rocky Horror virgins who don’t know the heckling is done for fun rather than malice. From personal experience, you can also feel like someone who came to a karaoke party not knowing it was a karaoke party, and wind up feeling like an outsider asshole when everyone else knows the lyrics while you just mumble or move your lips, trying to be cool too. Same as I did in junior high band when I’d just finger my trumpet while everybody else played the actual notes. Fake it till you make it, kids.

Yes, I just said “I’d just finger my trumpet”. I’ll finger yours too if you’re nice, ladies.

Some of the cast members came prepared though, likely having some experience with improv acting and/or being well-honed heckler deflectors. They earn the audience’s respect by ad libbing responses. Good because it makes the crowd feel like part of the show, but bad for the performers who weren’t as equipped. David Bedella, already playing a role that requires zen master precision to keep a straight face, was reduced to nigh-“Jimmy Fallon on SNL” levels of character breaking awkward laughter. If that’s the type of thing that you enjoy (which I do, sometimes), then this should be on your to-watch list. If you don’t like being taken out of the show though (which I don’t, more often than not), keep some Preparation H close because I’m predicting some butt hurt during your viewing experience. Individual results may vary.

One interesting twist to the live show is the Narrator’s role. Played stupendously by former Bond baddie Blofeld (one of many) Charles “Diamonds Are Forever” Gray during RHPS, here the part is divided amidst a small troupe of quasi-celebs. Perpetually suicidal comedian Stephen Fry (I hope you find peace of mind before you’re forced to go to the point of no return one day, Sir) kicks things off, while Richard O’Brien himself gets the biggest pop of the night for his moments later. Former Baby Spice Emma Bunton also shows up, along with former “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Giles, Anthony Head. Adrian Edmondson and Mel Giedroyc also get their a few segments, but I don’t know shit about British TV outside of reruns of “Flying Circus“, “Peep Show“, “Red Dwarf“, “Are You Being Served?“, and “Danger Mouse“. Whomever he is though, Edmondson (who does his parts pantsless and wearing stockings) handles the audience participation/interference the best of the group, so I give him props on that for sure.

It’s odd seeing Rocky have actual lines here, since the movie version had so few. Limited in the script because the Swede playing him knew no English, I’m sure. But it makes better sense to me that a newborn creature like Rocky wouldn’t have a whole lotta speech processing power while he’s waiting for his brain to straighten out and is back to a learning curve. Dave Bedella’s body is bulkier than Tim Curry’s Slenderman frame, so his Frank’s not as lanky. He’s too muscly and wide shouldered for my tastes, but again, I’m basing my ideals for these roles on their movie counterparts. Keeping with that, I don’t like Ben Forster’s Brad either. In an exactly opposite complaint, I found him to be too small and wimpy in comparison to the big, goofy, tries-to-be-a-tough-guy Barry Bostwick version. It’s more fun to watch a moderately macho man reduced to an abandoned little boy crying for mommy than seeing it happen to just another nerd from an AP Calculus class.

Kristian Lavercombe’s RiffRaff was more a background letdown than the twisted attention grabbing one O’Brien himself gave us before. Oh, and don’t even mention Magenta to the Evil Dead Bride. She may just bite your face off. Vegetarians can get vicious when you fuck with their favorite characters and Jayde Westaby is NOT her Magenta. And what was the fucking deal with Dick Meek’s Dr. Scott?! Where in the Crispix encrusted HELL was his German accent!? That cheesy accent was the best part of the doctor and now it’s nowhere to be seen!? Fuck that.

Finally, the songs are pretty much the same, with the same lyrics and tunes that you remember, but they’ve been cheered up a level or two. Most egregious being “I’m Coming Home” sounds like a fucking Kenny G remix with the addition of a distractingly prominent sax part. It threw me off like Christopher Reeves’ horse. Brad also gets a song of his own that wasn’t in the movie. It’s nothing life changing, but when I’m already not a fan of your Brad, giving you more time and a solo bit aren’t helping. It all plays into that aforementioned “If you really like Grease (or Hairspray), then you might like this!” feeling.

If I weren’t in love with the movie, I might like this version more than I do. The different cast and tone were jarring at first, but I warmed up to Bedella’s Dr. F (his lizard/Joker mouth and elongated diddler tongue give him a deviant tone unique from that of Mr. Curry’s Frankie) and I thought the set pieces were done well, especially Frank’s ’50s sci-fi movie lab. The seductions of Brad and Janet were standout sequences too, shot vertically to give it an “overhead” feel that gives the audience a better angle to see the players at work.

I didn’t Hapschatt my pants with joy for the play, but despite my numerous bitchings, to quote Columbia, I thought it was “okay”. In all fairness, this rendition is O’Brien’s intended form of the story. He only changed things for the movie to give it a more palatable pace for the format. My Evil Dead Bride would give Rocky Horror Show Live a 1.5-out-of-5, but I’ll settle on a 3. Not horrible, but considering that I hold Picture Show in 5 star regard, still a let down. I give it one severed thumb up and a “there are worse ways to spend my time”… *cough*like the next episode*cough*

Oh yeah. 20th Century Fox apparently found out about the big birthaversary a little too late to do anything special this year, but are putting together a TV movie remake aiming to air next year. If you’re a stickler for technicalities (like I tend to be), it actually makes more sense, since the movie’s legit 40th anniversary will be 2016, as anniversaries don’t start being counted until the completion of the first year. Said remake’s already shaping up like Dogma‘s Gologothan (i.e. a huge, hideous, septic sludge golem) though, so the less said about it the better. Especially the whole part about how they’ve cast a female actor to play Frank, since they’ve learned nothing about how not to piss of the RHPS fans from that menstrual blood clot of a “Glee” episode they did years ago. Cunts.

And yes, I’m well aware that Laverne Cox is a transitioned female and thus used to be a man. It doesn’t change the fact that she’s now a woman being cast to play a male transvestite! It’s fuckin’ limper than Dick Cheney’s prick. I will likely put up a review for it after it airs, just so I can add my own gripes and miserable old man groans to the sea of enraged fans the world over. If you have any hopes for it, take note: Richard O’Brien doesn’t support it, sees no need for it, and the only reason he hasn’t verbally vomited all over it is because he’s of that “If you can’t say anything nice, blah blah blah” mindset of polite rebellion through silence.

If you missed the original broadcast of “The Rocky Horror Show Live” and this episode wasn’t enough to dissuade you from seeing it, BBC America will be doing an encore airing on Halloween at, you guessed it, midnight. So, if you haven’t blacked out on candy corn vodka by then (you disgust me), and you’re not otherwise busy questioning your sexuality while being seduced by a guy in high heels and a teddy, give your peepers some creeper time.

Or, if you lack cable, you can just do like we did and watch it in the eviscerated entrails of a virgin.

OR or, you could finally figure out how torrents work! Damn it, people, it’s almost 2016! Show some fucking initiative! Cable companies are just gonna keep using you for a urinal so long as you let ’em! Viva la revolution!

Moral of the Story: The best way to celebrate something is to just celebrate it. Don’t try to remake it. Don’t sequelize it. Don’t replace it. Just embrace it. We’re about to celebrate our 16th anniversary and EDB and I aren’t planning to do so by getting romantic dinners and hotel rooms with people we’ll be picking up on Craigslist. That’s the week after.

Screenshots_____

“Candy! Popcorn! Soda! French ticklers! Butt plugs! Candy! Popcorn! Soda! French ticklers! Butt plugs!”


Brad and Janet reenact their favorite scene from Dumb & Dumber. “Wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?”


Brad proposes to his lady love while his van watches nearby, clearly enraged. Brad probably promised Christine that he was on the verge of leaving Janet… Hell hath no furry like a Winnebago scorned!


Stephen Fry: proof that the bully in school who harassed you for always having “your nose in a book”, was trying to protect your proboscal integrity the whole time!


Our heroes are harassed by a Ramones cover band!


If you wanna be my lover,
you gotta dance with my friends!
Pulls your knees in tight,
the Time Warp never ends!


Rue McClanahan is Bram Stoker’s Dracula.


In an attempt to modernize the story during the ’90s, O’Brien did a Rocky Horror production that saw Frank teach everyone how to dance the Macarena. It was rightly shit-canned by everyone and never spoken of again.


It’s time for everyone’s favorite new game show: “Name That Tarzan!


Oh, I’ve heard of this! Rich people with nothing better to do with their lives sleep in upright standing beds because they think it reduces wrinkles. They call it “flamingo-ing”.


That awkward moment when you both wake up in the morning and discover someone shit the bed… and realize it was both of you.


Unhappy with his pay from “Name That Tarzan”, the king of the jungle sets up a conference call with his agents: two orangutans and a Jewish panther.


“You’ve got an Interocetor?!”
“I’ve been using it to make hot chocolate!”


That day, Brad learned that people in wheelchairs aren’t helpless. In fact, their situation makes it much easier for them to punch you in the dick when you call them “Wheels”.


Oh come on! Even Grace Jones thinks your outfits are a little much!


In the final stage of his evolution, Richard O’Brien resembles the love child of Graf Orlok and Bat Boy.

———————————————————
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Anubis will return next time in
“Willy Wonka’s House of Horrors”

Enjoy the review? Hate the review? Have a movie you’d like to see judged in The Tomb? Fill out the feedback form! Never has it been easier to make contact with a deitic being!

All materials found within this review are the intellectual properties and opinions of the original writer. The Tomb of Anubis claims no responsibility for the views expressed in this review, but we do lay a copyright claim on it beeyotch, so don’t steal from this shit or we’ll have to go all Farmer Vincent on your silly asses. © October 1st 2013 and beyond, not to be reproduced in any way without the express written consent of the reviewer and The Tomb of Anubis, or pain of a physical and legal nature will follow. Touch not lest ye be touched.

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One thought on “Episode 64 – Rocky Horror Show Live (2015)

  1. Adrian Edmondson is married to Jennifer Saunders (“Absolutely Fabulous”) and he created/starred-in the completely bizarre cult sitcom “The Young Ones” (which aired on MTV regularly back in the ’80s). He’s played Brad Majors and Anthony Head has played Frank N Furter a few times.

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