Feature 90 – The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again (2016)

or “Even Smiling Makes My Face Ache”

Featuring: Laverne “‘Orange is the New Black’” Cox , Ryan “‘Liv and Maddie’” McCartan , Victoria “‘Victorious’” Justice

Director: Kenny “Hocus Pocus” Ortega

Based on the screenplay by: Richard “I’m not involved with this remake in any way” O’Brien & Jim “No comment I could find online, but I’m pretty sure he’s also distanced himself from it” Sharman

Origin: USA

Remake/Rebranding of: The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Review_____

“Lost in time and lost in space… and meaning.”

It’s that time of year again, you turkeys! Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was meant to be an October review, but when I saw just how horrible it was, I thought it more appropriate to not denigrate the sacred month of 8 and instead lump it in with Turkey Day Month 2016. Read on and I’ll think you’ll agree. Won’t you?

This was originally supposed to be a capsule review for The Tomb’s Facebook page, but I had so much bitching to do by the midpoint of this abominable TV ghost of cult movies past that I felt it needed the full episode treatment. Also, I’m almost completely sure that there’s no way for me to jam pics and gifs into Facebook reviews, and they really needed to be a part of this to help properly illustrate my loathing. As such, let’s check out The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again, shall we?

Also, the doors are all locked and their knobs have been replaced with used dildos amassed from the dumpster behind the local retirement home, so just sit the fuck down and share my suffering.

When I heard about Fox’s intentions to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Richard O’Brien’s golden child with this made-for-TV remake, I got the typical “Pavlov’s dog” response to remakes that most of us over the age of 30 are stabbed in the kidneys with at least three times a year anymore. Unlike the original brainwashed canine, though, we don’t drool uncontrollably. Instead, we vomit vitriol and disappointment out of both ends, taking breaks to ingest large reserves of blue PowerAde into our systems to stem dangerous dehydration. We ultimately end up with acid burned throats and burning red sphincters glowing from magmatic agony while some cunts in Hollywood dream of rubbing stacks of stupid peoples’ money on their genitals. All of the online petitions, cries of protest and message board threats of sexual assault result in nothing changing, and we all just end up dying a little inside knowing that something we love has been weighed down with an anchor of garbage, then tossed into the murky depths of the “Nobody Cares! Get Over It!” sea.

But sometimes, if you keep the faith, say your prayers, and sacrifice just enough of your personal stockpile of pessimism, you will be rewarded. The whore mongers you accused of raping your inner child turn out to be fellow followers of your familiar fandom, and do right by your shared affection – not tarnishing its name, but instead adding to its legacy! Whole new generations learn to respect and revere these franchises, lifting them to new heights, sharing them with the world, spreading their gospel! Yes, sometimes you corporate mainstream meddlers in your ivory towers can cast off the scarred branding of “defilers”, bring pride to your executive producer credits…

…Hahahahahahahahahahahaha! Yeah, and then the drugs wore off! Sure, there’s the occasional worthwhile redo out there (The Hills Have Eyes and Evil Dead, anyone?), but the turds tend to outweigh the treasures by 100 to 1. Guess which side of said ratio Fox’s Rocky Horror remake stakes its claim? Here’s a hint: much like a thrice expired jar of Ortega salsa once tormented me with the drizzling shits, so now has Kenny Ortega done to an entire television viewing audience. All we wanted was NOT to have another beloved movie ruined with a remake.

“But Anubis, Kenny Ortega also gave us Hocus Pocus and Newsies! How could his version of Rocky Horror be that bad!?” First of all, didn’t I fit you with a ball gag when you came in!? Secondly, allow me to send up a surface-to-air missile to bring your Happy Hands down in flames – Kenny Ortega’s also the guy behind the High School Musical trilogy. The higher your hopes get, the harder I will make them fall…at least until the point of terminal velocity. Once they hit that, I mean, that’s as hard as they can fall, whatever the height. Either way, FUCK YOUR HOPES! MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Anyway, by now we should be intimately familiar with the misadventures of Brad Majors and Janet Weiss, so let’s not dawdle with the details. And if you don’t know the story already, a hearty Conan the Schwarzenegger “To HEL wit’choo!”. Seriously though, for you neophytes out there (or those of you in need of a refresher), you can pop out your peepers and observe Episode 64 for my review of last year’s “Rocky Horror Show Live!” BBC special to get caught up. The rest of you? In the interest of keeping it short like Tyrian Lannister after a trip through The Tall Man’s midgetizing tanks, let’s try something new and make this a simple pass/fail review! Onward and upward, you sons and daughters of Oblivion!

► For starters, showing your RHPS remake at 8PM? Weak. Its cult status is that of a midnight movie, so shoehorning it into a prime time slot? You’re already starting off on the wrong foot with the fans, Fox. FAIL.

► The “Science Fiction/Double Feature” intro is now sung by a generic “white girl with a deep voice” usherette cast away from Hot Topic, played by Ivy Levan. I know nothing of her work or if anyone else even knows who she is, but she feels very much like a poor man’s Christina Aguilera/Lady Gaga/Adele/Amy Winehouse. I dislike her “try to make it ‘soulful’ like an ‘American Idol’ contestant singing the National Anthem” cover. FAIL. And I’m not saying this to be mean, Ivy, but I’ve got two words for ya: Crest Whitestrips.

► The entire segment in general? When compared to the original “Patricia Quinn’s disembodied mouth lip syncing Richard O’Brien’s singing” opening credits? No. And allow me to get this out of the way now for anyone who’s gonna try to call me out about how this remake is supposed to be different: if you don’t want comparisons to the original, DON’T DO A FUCKING REMAKE! FAIL.

► On its own merits though, this beginning makes for a fair music video style intro to the show, so I’ll also throw it a PASS. And don’t say I can’t do that. You don’t come into my house (or tomb, in this case) and start diddling my thermostat. At least not if you want to keep your fingers on your hands and not poking out of Ammut’s litter box.

► Presenting your made-for-TV remake as if it were being shown at an RHPS midnight theatrical show, complete with audience participation? The more you remind me of how much I’d rather be watching the original is not going to work in your favor, Fox. Pretending your version is cool because it’s framed with meta humor is lame. And not “so lame it’s cool”, Marge, so don’t even start. No, it’s lame like Christy Brown without all the artistic talent. Stop it. FAIL.

► Wait, so the actors are all emulating the original’s cast through hammy acting and overzealous mannerisms? Oh boy. I can’t imagine this sitting well with the teenagers this is being aimed at, who probably don’t know it’s supposed to be campy. Kinda torn on this one, since I hate camp for camp’s sake, but it’s sticking faithful to the tone so… Fuck it. PASS.

► Well, Ryan McCartan’s Brad is definitely the ideal of all-American young male doofiness. Meanwhile, Victoria Justice’s Janet has the “starry-eyed girl next door” thing down, though I do miss Susan Sarandon’s adorable bug-eyes. PASS.

► The Hapschatts’ marriage mobile’s “Wait ‘Til Tonite, She Got Hers Now He’ll Get His” shaving cream graffiti replaced by “She Said I Do, Now I’m Doing” instead. “Now I’m Doing”?! Is that even English? No. Whomsoever is responsible for that, get “doing” with a live light socket. FAIL.

► Post stroke Tim Curry putting in a cameo as The Criminologist? Smells like a poor attempt at Fox trying to convince the fanbase that this was a good idea. FAIL.

► Sadly, it’s not like Curry’s getting roles thrown at him today what with his current state, so at least he got a paycheck out of this. That part gets a pity PASS.

► Janet’s joke of “The owner of that phone might be a beautiful woman and you may never come back again.” is too on the nose now, given Frank’s re-casting/re-assignment. FAIL.

► Reeve Carney, you put way too much spirit into your Riff-Raff. He’s supposed to be menacing and broken, not starring in a production of “Rock of Ages”. I’d tell you to go back to playing Peter Parker in “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”, but, well, we all know what happened with that… Also, where’s your bald cap!? And your hunch?! And your accent sucks. And your twangy country western lite rendition of “The Time Warp” makes me want to fill my ears with flesh-eating scarabs. Cease and desist. FAIL.

► Same goes for your Magenta, Christina Milian. You’re supposed to be depraved and imposing, not just some prancing tart in a sparkling maid outfit and hot pink fright wig. Your accent also sucks. A lot. Homosexual rest stop vampire Count Gaylord would take a break from his Saturday night slurp circle to tell you its suckitude is “a little much”. FAIL.

► One of the things Fox has been raked over the coals for on RHPSLDtTWA! is neutering it by turning the risque level down to a ‘3’. Despite this, the singers during the “Time Warp” scene are performing from between the wooden cut-out of a pair of 10′ tall legs positioned to look like they’re a woman on her back. So for all intents and purposes, this trio is supposed to appear to be singing while ankles deep in a giantess’s lapple pie…I don’t even…what…the fuck…am I looking at?! Either way, the dancers in this “toned down” version are all dry humping the shit out of each other for 10 minutes, so I guess it was just the “gay stuff” that Fox felt the need to back off on? FAIL.

► The Transylvanians all get their own unique costumes?! They’re supposed to be background fodder, not an attention grabbing orgy of extras in gaudy silver crotch-hugger outfits hopped up on Spanish Fly grinding against each other in a desperate display of “Look at me! I’m important too! Look at me!”. This smells like the meddling of a bunch of bit parters’ agents…who are probably also their parents. Fucking show biz parents. FAIL.

► Annaleigh Ashford’s Columbia is just heyday Cyndi Lauper with “I sucked off Papa Smurf” blue raspberry Blow Pop tongue? Riff Raff plays an electric guitar with a neon blue light-up neck? Fuck’s sake, Ortega, did your Wayback Machine run out of batteries when you re-imagined this!? RHPS was from nineteen SEVENTY-five, not nineteen EIGHTY-five! GAH! I feel like there should’ve been a part to go with this half-assed ’80s vibe where Brad refers to something as being “Bradical!”, because if you’re going to fuck the audience, you might as well go balls deep. FAIL.

► P.S. – Ashford’s “non-acting acting” is nails on a gods damned chalkboard. I’ll take Little Nell’s proto-Harley Quinn with the cracking, squeaky voice 10 times out of 10 over this deadpan Darlene Connor knock-off bullshtick. My heart (and my legs) are always open to sarcastic doom-and-gloom nihilist types, but not Columbia, damn it! FAIL.

► Rather than meeting Frank as our protagonists originally did, coming down in his little elevator to the anticipatory build of both the heroes and the audience, the modern incarnation instead sees her descending onto the set aboard a massive camera crane in some weird Mayan showgirl outfit. Though I can appreciate the spectacle, that’s all it is – a spectacle. The headdress is appealingly garish, but also more sizzle than steak. One of the story’s biggest moments burned to the ground. If gravitas were gravity, this version of the host’s introduction would be taking place on the moon. All-in-all, a big floating FAIL.

► It’s sad too, because Laverne Cox (what an ironic name…) puts on a fairly fair Frank impression. Unfortunately, as I’ve been griping about to my fellow Frankie Fans, this casting puts a silver bullet through the heart of the entire show. Put your PC sticks away too, because I have zero issue with a black person playing Frank and zero issue with a transgender person playing Frank. As long as they can play the role justice, it would be mathematically impossible for me to care less about skin color or background. And if you wanted to hire a transitioned male person to play Frank, that would be great too! But no, Frank being played by a woman ruins the point of his seduction of Brad and his attempts at forcing a hetero man-child of his own creation to be gay rather than Rocky instead dipping his hot dog in Janet’s mustard. And don’t give me the “Well, Laverne used to be a man!” argument either, because it holds water as well as Joel Robinson’s Wiffle cup. Who Laverne was has no bearing on who she is while playing the role in this movie. Championing her as a former man is like carting her around as a sideshow attraction. She’s a woman now, and a woman playing Frank goes against the point of Frank. FAIL.

► But, again, Cox plays the role pretty well compared to how much the rest of the cast fail their parts. Too bad she couldn’t have taken the role prior to transitioning. Despite my dislike of the casting, and her not putting enough of a bite into some of her delivery (her flaccid read of “I didn’t make him FOR YOU!” is especially disappointing), her performance gets a PASS.

► Damn it, Ortega! You fucked up the close-up shots during “Sweet Transvestite”! How fucking hard is it to do a couple of quick cuts rather than just setting the camera behind B & J and hitting “REC” while you take a piss break? FAIL.

► Staz Nair looks the part of Rocky as far as physiques go (though his frosted tips will give people Backstreet flashbacks), but turning his gold bodybuilder briefs into golden basketball shorts (that look like they’re made of a spray-painted elephant scrotum) just furthers Fox’s flaccid homophobic approach to this remake. Have I mentioned that it’s an abomination? If I haven’t, make a note of it. FAIL.

► Adam Lambert’s Eddie comes Evel Knieveling through a window (rather than out of Frank’s meat locker…not to be confused with her meat curtains…though that would’ve been an interesting twist), looking like some kind of lupine biker that shames anything in Werewolves on Wheels. He’s Eddie by way of Wolverine after a rough night in a leather bar. It works. PASS.

► But his singing voice lacks the macho boom of a rotund rocker like Meatloaf. A savage disappointment to hear a guy that looks so bruiserly have such a, well, Adam “Glambert” Lambert voice. When he’s mugging for camera during his song, it looks like he’s struggling not to scratch at a bad case of jock itch. FAIL.

► Rather than being pick-axed more times than a gold mine in the 1840s, Eddie ends up stabbed and falls out of a window. Fear not, as the dinner scene still happens later as planned, but this version of Edward’s demise is no prize. Frank’s subtle efforts at shiving the big lug in the guts is no match for psychotic Swiss cheesing given to the original article. FAIL.

► Given the gender swap, Frank’s seduction of the young couple doesn’t have the same impact, especially with how many “bi for the guys” college age girls have saturated pop culture in the last decade plus. Shooting said moments like regular scenes rather than from behind the veil of smutty silhouettes also kills the voyeuristic tone carried by the originals, losing both the style AND the substance in this instance. Blart. It’s a bad miss. FAIL.

► Watching a former Nickelodeon child star in her underwear fooling around with another woman is…not really having an effect on me, since I never watched whatever show it is she was the star of. Besides, after everything we’ve seen out of Miley Cyrus, former child stars doing adult stuff in little-to-no clothing will never carry the same taboo. Not a pass/fail scenario, I just thought I’d point that out.

► Ben Vereen sounds more like Morgan Freeman than Dr. Scott. With this change in character also comes the unfortunate negation of Scottie’s former role as a defected Nazi scientist. Now he’s just “elderly wheelchair man with Einstein hair”. FAIL.

► The dinner scene slips in a new *wink*wink* line for long-termers, as Columbia complains “I hope it’s not meatloaf again.” in regards to the meal’s main course. Cute. I’ll take it. PASS

.

► Additionally, though I hated “too cool to play along” slacker Columbia, as her tragic losses mount, she’s falling into place as the broken girl on the brink of losing what sanity she has left. Good. PASS.

► Kudos to McCartan, whose turn in the floor show as “broken man-baby in ladies lingerie” Brad denotes a man of courage. It’s also probably the moment in the whole movie most loyal to the tone of the original. He gets a PASS.

► Speaking of the floor show, all of the Transylvanians are present in this version. It kills the intimate focus on the main characters having an entire audience. Furthermore, you’ve not got two dozen people in the theater, but nobody does anything to stop Riff when he comes in with his neon guitar laser? They all just disappear during “I’m Going Home”? FAIL.

► The siblings’ new silver outer space glam rock heavy metal outfits are fun at least. PASS.

► While trying to escape with Frank’s corpse, there’s no RKO tower prop for Rocky to scale, so an iconic moment ends up as just another FAIL.

► On the plus side, when Rock dies near Frank, he does so reaching out to her a la Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” painting, notably featured in the original RHPS‘s “Don’t Dream It, Be It” swimming pool scene. PASS.

► Brad, Janet and Dr. S sell the finale of their nocturnal excursion like they’re stumbling through a nuclear fallout, then just roll up their arm length gloves (well, Brad does) and walk off stage right like everything’s suddenly fine, no selling the fact that an entire castle is launching into the stratosphere not 10 feet to their left. Cool guys don’t look at explosions? FAIL.

For those keeping score, that makes for 11 “PASS”es and 23 “FAIL”s. According to my math (meaning no one can verify it but me, so don’t correct me), in Tomb terms, Let’s Do the Time Warp Again should get a 1.666 out of 5 rating. Traditionally, that would mean it rounds up to a 2, but there’s no way I can award a 2 to this movie. Instead, I’ll add a little personal bias to the data and round down to a 1. After all, reviews are all about the writer’s opinion, and bias is a part of opinion so, again, don’t correct me. Checkmate.When all is said and done (and “doing”?), this is just another remake for the “that didn’t need to happen” pile. It’s a befuddling muddle fuck that tries to be faithful to the original while doing new things, a tightrope it fails to cross and thus falls into the pool of starved crocodiles below. Everybody involved should’ve ignored the movie’s motto of “Don’t dream it, be it.” and just kept their desires for this production in their own nightmares and dreamscapes. For a production that tries in every way to be more over-the-top colorful than its predecessor, the performances are decaf as fuck for the most part. It feels…sterile. Whether it’s Ortega’s head we hang the shame hat on for wanting his cast to act the way they do, or we need to put in an order for a dozen more shame hats to cover the heads of the cast members themselves, somebody has to take responsibility. And when the ambition didn’t feel like it was under the floorboards, it was coming on too strong from actors whose characters are supposed to be restrained!

Have I been changed in any way by my viewing of this remake? Not really. Though I had no idea who Kenny Ortega was (aside from a guy whose name sounds an awful lot like New Japan wrestler Kenny Omega) before, now he’s got a spot on my enemies list. So…there’s that.

For those who enjoyed RHPSLDtTWA (it’s nice to know I’ll never have to type out that acronym again), good for you. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong. However, if you use the following trains of thought to defend said stance, assume crash positions, because you’re about to be derailed.

► “But shadow casts happen every week all around the world and plenty of them include female Franks! Do you complain about those?!” No. Female Franks are usually done with shadow casts that don’t have enough guys to fill all of the male roles, or by groups where no guy is brave enough to dance around in women’s underwear in front of a crowd. Besides, this is a nationally broadcast remake, not some midnight screening at the Podunk Village Actors Guild Hall.

► “But ‘why did you hate this iteration so much, but not ‘Rocky Horror Live‘?! You just hate young people and things not aimed as you!” False equivalency. That was a live show, based on the musical, not the movie based on the musical, thus it wasn’t supposed to be faithful to the movie. Additionally, it was a production overseen by Richard O’Brien, so when the creator of the entire fucking phenomenon decides he wants to tinker with the formula, he’s more than welcome to! Also, had you actually read my review for the show in question, you’d remember that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with it either.

► “But Frank is an alien! Maybe he/she didn’t have an Earthly sex and you’re just projecting your archaic gender roles! Open your eyes, you Nazi sheep!”. Shut your fucking face, uncle fucker. Did you forget the numerous times Frank was referred to as “him” and “he” by the rest of the cast in the original RHPS? Just in case you did, remake Frank’s referred to numerous times as “her” and “she”, so again, cram it down your suck hole.

And that’s as much as I’m interested in talking about Let’s Do the Time Warp Again. Now that I’ve done my duty, it’s time for me to be doing. What? No fucking clue. Hope you enjoyed your Halloweening indulgences, kids. I also hope you had your younger siblings “test bite” your candy first for safety’s sake. You don’t wanna show up to Thanksgiving with a razor blade smile!

Moral of the Story: If you’re going to do a remake, stick to the source material. If you’re going to do a “re-visioning”, go all the way…and prepare for a hardcore backlash, especially if you fuck it up.

Screenshots_____

There are enough in the bullet-points above. See ya next time, ladles and germs!

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Anubis will return next time in
“Balls of Fury”

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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Feature 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”

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