Rocky Horror Picture Show, The (Blu-ray) (1975)

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Released 3-Nov-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Richard O'Brien (Writer) & Patricia Quinn (Actor)
Featurette-Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast
Alternate Subtitles-Participation Prompter
Alternative Version-UK or US Version
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes
Featurette-Excerpts - Behind-The-Music/Where Are They Now
Active Subtitle Track-The Midnight Experience
Alternative Version-Black and White Beginning
Featurette-Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show
Theatrical Trailer-x2
Karaoke-Rocky Oke : Sing It!
Alternate Ending-Misprint Ending
Featurette-Beacon Theatre 10th Anniversary
Gallery-Pressbook
Gallery-Poster-Alternate Opening Sequence
Featurette-Mick Rock - Photographer
Gallery-Photo-Mick Rock Photos
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 100:08 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jim Sharman
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Tim Curry
Susan Sarandon
Barry Bostwick
Case ?
RPI $29.95 Music Richard O'Brien


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 (4608Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Danish
English
Finnish
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Dutch
French
German for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish
Greek
English Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Is there any greater cinema phenomenon than The Rocky Horror Picture Show? After all the film is still showing 35 years after its original release. A release, mind you, that was to no great acclaim. It has made hundreds of millions of dollars despite never being considered one of the great filmed musicals. All the success is due to the hardcore dedicated fans who continue to make the theatrical showing of the film an event rather than just a mere movie.

     For the uninitiated (are there any uninitiated?) Rocky Horror is a fun, naughty, gender bending musical from 1975 based on the stage musical by Richard O'Brien. The film was co-written and directed by Jim Sharman and gives a pretty good reflection of the stage show. It is the story of Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (a very young Susan Sarandon), a pure hearted young couple who break down on the way back from a wedding and have to seek help at a spooky castle. The castle is the home of Frank'n'Furter (Tim Curry), a celestial transvestite from the planet Transylvania, and staffed by his seeming henchman Riff Raff (O'Brien) and the maid Magenta (Patricia Quinn) . They have come at a momentous time. Frank has been working on a plan to create a perfect man - muscle-bound and handsome - and they will witness the unveiling. They will also get an insight into the wild sexual world of Frank as he sets about seducing them both. Along the way a groupie, Columbia (Little Nell), and a deep frozen rocker, Eddie (Meatloaf), spice up the proceedings.

     As said, the film did little business on first release but became a flagship for midnight movies - movies where the audience participated. Knowing when to callback at the screen or pull out an essential prop, or when to avoid getting drenched by water pistols, all became a regular joyous experience. That's not to mention the songs, which may be out of style (it was 1975 after all) but can still stir the senses, perhaps the sense of nostalgia. After all; who hasn't danced the Time Warp? Who hasn't hoped and prayed that the video of them doing Sweet Transvestite, high kicks and all, at the office Christmas party doesn't make it to Youtube?

     Watching Rocky Horror on home video is nothing like being in the audience at a showing but it still gives an idea of the vibe. That is especially so when the Blu-Ray set includes special features designed to replicate the live show. Fans will love this set and as for newcomers, either they will fall under it's wicked spell or wonder what all the fuss was about!

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Rocky Horror Picture Show was shot on 35mm film using the European widescreen 1.66:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been preserved for this Blu-ray release so you will see black bars on either side of the image.

     The 2000 release received glowing praise for the visuals. That may have been because of the worn video tapes to compare it to rather than the qualities of the transfer itself. When I got around to watching it on DVD just a year ago I found it to be a little tired and dull, though it had been cleaned up.

     Part of the Rocky Horror experience was tied in with seeing it with scratches, pops and crackles at the local flea pit cinema. I remember my first time - it was at high school in the early 80s. The film buff geography teacher used to screen movies for the kids on a Saturday night, mainly comedies and action films. Due to overwhelming demand he agreed to show Rocky Horror but prefaced the viewing with a speech that left us in no doubt that he hated the film; it was filth and not worthy of showing. It broke down several times during the screening and the image was grainy and scratched. Of course, all this made us love it even more!

     This Blu-ray was apparently stuck from a negative using a 2K/4K scan. The result is the best the film has ever, and probably will ever, look. First the caveats. This will always be a low budget film from 1975. It features noticeable grain and the image varies in sharpness. There is a lack of detail in some of the mid-range shots. There are no artefacts.

     The positives, however, are everywhere to be seen. The colours are wonderfully vibrant from the deep reds of Frank'n'Furter's home to the sparkly yellows of Columbia's coat. The colours are stable and the blacks, of which there are a lot, are as deep as can be. The flesh tones are accurate and in the close-ups show a level of detail which is extraordinary. Check out any close-up of the face of the wonderful Tim Curry to see every inch of make-up and lipstick.

     There is a veritable United Nations of subtitles on offer including just about every inch of Europe.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     The 25th Anniversary DVD came with a prime Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 384Kb/s. This version comes with a Dolby Digital 2.0 track for the purists and a brand spanking new lossless DTS HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack.

     The original film featured a mono mix. So is this a necessary upgrade?

    Well it does improve the listening experience in a couple of ways. There is not a lot of surround effect happening in the film so the spatial depth isn't really there. It does not create an ambience. It basically beefs up and makes more interesting the various song moments. I say moments because the surround mix tends to take elements from the songs and give them their own place in the mix. Take, for example, Time Warp. The opening guitar comes out of the left channel. The song is pretty much front and centre until the chorus cuts in. The chorus has been placed in the surrounds and rear. So the effect is to make the sound more interesting rather than create a whole new soundscape.

     There were some moments of revelation. The strings in I'm Going Home really stand out adding a further poignancy to the song.

     The dialogue fares a little less well. Big voiced Tim Curry does alright but some of the other voices like Riff Raff can be thin and reedy and the stray comments by the Transylvanians can easily get lost. Still, this is better than the previous mix and represents the best the film will sound.

     As well as the English soundtracks there are Portuguese and Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 dubbed tracks running at 448Kb/s.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The 2001 Special Edition release of the film came with a host of extras. These have been expanded for the Blu-ray.

Main Menu

     Although Menu Screens have just about lost the power to interest me this one is something a bit more special, combining nostalgia such as images and posters into a 3D like show.

Alternate Versions

     It is now possible to select either the UK or the US versions from the main menu. The US version omits Superheroes apparently because it was considered too depressing!

The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast

     The most comprehensive of the new extras, this is an hour long documentary of the auditions to select the shadowcast performers. It is split into two parts. For those who treat Rocky Horror as a lifestyle this is the mother lode. Auditions took place in the US and the UK, gathering performers from all over the States and across Europe. For those who aren't quite as dedicated to the Rocky Horror experience this two-parter starts to flag a little towards the end of part 1 but picks up again in part 2 when a couple of original cast members make surprise appearances. More than anything it shows the strong association that some people have had to the show. It gives them confidence, identity and friendships.

Play With Alternate Black and White Intro

    The idea was originally for the film to be in black and white, emulating Wizard of Oz, until Brad and Janet enter the great hall at the castle when the party guests are doing the Time Warp. A funny idea, no doubt spurred on by a few drinks at the pub, in practice it doesn't work as the film takes 20 minutes to get to that scene. Imagine the film without the red lips!

Commentary Track - Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn

     Devoted fans, don't get excited. This is simply the commentary track from the 2001 edition. Still, if you haven't heard it this is an enjoyable listen. O'Brien, as creator of the show, is a font of all knowledge and Quinn is the wacky sidekick peppering the track with offbeat and risqué remarks.

The Midnight Experience

     This allows the viewer to introduce 4 extra elements into the viewing experience:

  1. Trivia Track
  2. Vintage Callback Track
  3. Prop Box
  4. Late Night Double Feature P.I.P Show

     Each of these elements can be selected separately or together. The trivia track supplies a box to the top left of frame with some interesting titbits about the show including the history and some filmic references you may have missed. The vintage callback track provides some fodder for shouting at your screen, something I haven't done since the last Lindsay Lohan movie. The prop box tells you when to pull out your items and start the show!

     The PIP shadowcast will be of interest to many, especially if you have seen the casting documentary. This can be viewed as Picture-in-Picture in the bottom right corner or you can watch it full screen with the movie soundtrack as backing. As much fun as it was to do, the shadowcast is better seen in a cinema environment rather than a home cinema. One for the real fans of the "experience".

Rocky Oke - Sing It!

     All the songs from the film can be accessed using this feature. They can be played with or without vocals and the singer is guided by some distinctive Rocky Horror subtitles.

Mick Rock - A Photographer (3.36)

     Mick Rock was the only photographer allowed on set and he captured a series of iconic photographs of the cast. Here he talks about his experience being on the set.

Mick Rock's Picture Show

     46 photographs taken by Rock can be viewed here.

A Few From the Vault

     This gathers together most of the features from the 25th Anniversary Edition. A word about these. They are just ported over from the standard DVD release and appear as a letterbox on the top right of screen rather than full screen.

     They are:

     For a review of these features check out the comments from ChrisT in her review of the 25th Anniversary Edition here So what is missing from the 25th Anniversary Edition? Only the audience participation track and the Where Are They Now? featurette. The rest such as the participation prompter has been re-worked and introduced back into the film in a more efficient fashion.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

   This edition is apparently the same worldwide.

Summary

    If you have not seen Rocky Horror before, either in film or on stage then a rental might be in order before delving into the depths of it's wicked ways. For those who have and love the show this is a more than essential purchase. Fox have done a great job to bring the film and the experience to Blu-ray in a way that rewards the many fans.

     The picture and sound quality are as good as it is going to get and the extra features will outlast the pyramids.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Monday, October 04, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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