"Not a sequel... not a prequel... but an equal."
is a 1981 movie musical from the makers of The Rocky Horror Picture Show
, with many key cast members — but although Brad and Janet are once again major characters (albeit played by different actors), it isn't
a direct sequel and few characters aside from them return.
Denton ("The Home of Happiness"), the town that the now-married Brad and Janet Majors (Cliff de Young and Jessica Harper) call home, isn't what it used to be. It's now dominated by DTV, a TV station run by fast food mogul Farley Flavors, and most of its residents serve as a permanent audience for its programming. Indeed, the entire movie unfolds within the giant studio. Brad and Janet have lost the passion in their marriage, and when they're chosen to be part of Marriage Maze
by kooky host Bert Schnick (Barry Humphries), it doesn't take much convincing for Janet to allow her "emotional cripple" husband to be committed to the asylum/Soap Opera Dentonvale
to see if he can't be cured by Doctors (and siblings) Cosmo and Nation McKinley (Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn). Actually, Farley Flavors is manipulating these events from behind the scenes — he is interested in molding Janet into his newest star, and she's easily enticed into forgetting about Brad. The only people who see through the smoke and mirrors of Farley and his crew are Betty Hapschatt (Ruby Wax) and Judge Oliver Wright (Charles Gray), and they set out to find out the truth behind them and reunite the couple before it's too late...
The movie was not a success, and the makers were disappointed with how it turned out. It was
originally conceived as a direct sequel (Rocky Horror Shows His Heels
, which would have involved Dr. Frank-N-Furter being restored to life among other things), but for many, many
reasons ranging from Tim Curry
not wanting to play Frank again to the 1980 Screen Actors Guild strike, it was gradually transformed into a media spoof that is far removed from the kinky farce of the original. Within the Rocky Horror
fanbase it generates mixed reactions
, but it does have its own fan club, the presidents of which provided an audio commentary on the 2006 DVD release.
This film contains examples of:
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Farley Flavors' Fabulous Fast Foods Feed and Fortify Families for a Fabulous Future!"
- Audience Participation: As with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, "shadowcast" productions with audience props and callbacks have been mounted over the years. Aside from the film being less popular, a likely reason there haven't been more stagings is that far more performers are required.
- Also, in-universe, with the Studio Audience. They sing along with some of the songs, and even have a couple of dance numbers, along with getting prompted by the show hosts.
- Battle in the Center of the Mind: "Duel Duet". (Possibly.)
- Bedlam House: Dentonvale.
- Call-and-Response Song: "Duel Duet".
- Call Back: The first thing that Janet says to Brad is "It's alright Brad - everything's going to be all right."
- Canon Discontinuity: It helps that no attempt appears to be made at all to tie the plot of this film in with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. To be fair, it's presented as a Spiritual Sequel rather than a direct sequel, albeit with some of the same characters from the previous movie.
- Casting Gag: Most of the Expy characters are played by their RHPS equivalents. Cosmo and Nation not only share actors with Rocky Horror's Riff Raff and Magenta, but both sets of characters are incestuous siblings who are in the employ of the villain. Though Cosmo and Nation aren't really siblings at all, but rather actors playing them who have a bad habit of letting their real-life relationship intrude creepily on their phony medic personas.
- Possibly Charles Gray as Denton's "foremost sociologist", Judge Oliver Wright. They don't say it. They don't imply it. But they know you're thinking it.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: Partially due to realizing this trope, it doesn't take much for Janet to choose Brad over Farley in the end.
- Character Name Alias: Cosmo and Nation use these.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Farley Flavors.
- Crapsaccharine World: See Stepford Smiler and Eagleland.
- Crowd Song: "Denton U.S.A." Justified in that it's apparently the town's theme song.
- Dark Reprise: At the end, the studio audience are partying in Dentonvale — wearing straitjackets and happily singing "Denton U.S.A.", while their "phony medics" drink champagne and trash the offices.
- Digital Destruction: In the original theatrical cut, the end credits are underscored by a reprise of the overture, and once they've rolled the screen goes to black for several additional minutes while the single version of "Shock Treatment" plays (inspiring a stretch of jokes about the void in Audience Participation showings). This was preserved for the original VHS release through Key Video, though they stuck in the standard FBI warning image before going to black, while Fox Movie Channel airings just cut the music-only stretch. The 20th Century Fox DVD release's soundtrack jumps ahead to the second half of the overture when the credits start, so the single version of the song starts up midway through them and fades out as they end, meaning that neither is heard at their original length. Making matters worse, the end credits — particularly the photos of the actors — are clearly timed to the overture in the original cut, so an amusing touch is lost on the DVD.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Farley Flavors' logo features five F's (standing for Farley, Flavors, Fabulous, Fast, and Foods) arranged in a circle, all joined at the tail. It was designed to be reminiscent of a swastika.
- The song "Breakin' Out" plays over scenes of Brad Majors escaping from the asylum. But listen to the words, and it seems to be about another kind of coming out entirely... (This is not surprising, given that it was written when the project was a more direct sequel to Rocky Horror.)
- Eagleland: Denton is striving to be a commercialized embodiment of Type 1. "You'll find happy hearts and smiling faces/And tolerance for the ethnic races/In Denton."
- The Eighties: Very early Eighties, most obviously in the new wave and punk stylings of the songs.
- The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Duel Duet".
- Evil Costume Switch: See The Little Black Dress below.
- Evil Twin: Turns out that Farley Flavors is Brad's long-lost twin.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Duel Duet" is just that, a duet with two characters in a verbal duel.
- Expy With regards to the Rocky Horror characters, we have...
- Doctors Cosmo and Nation McKinley for Riff-Raff and Magenta (who were supposed to impersonate doctors in the Rocky Horror Shows His Heels draft)
- Nurse Ansalong for Columbia
- Judge Oliver Wright for the Criminologist note
- Farley Flavors for Dr. Frank-N-Furter
- Bert Schnick for Dr. Scott (Bert was Dr. Scott in the Brad and Janet Show draft)
- Fanservice: Nurse Ansalong — see Panty Shot below.
- Hannibal Lecture: Farley Flavors tries this on Brad in "Duel Duet". Brad doesn't go along with it.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Janet's father. "Thank God I'm A Man" is one giant "I hate" song, despite being rife with what is, arguably, Hard Gay imagery!
- "I Am" Song: "Thank God I'm a Man" for Janet's dad is all about his manly man philosophy.
- Incest Is Relative: Drs. Cosmo and Nation McKinley are brother and sister and a couple. Or at least, they play brother and sister.
- Jerk Ass: Pretty much all the characters in this movie apart from Brad. But Janet, Oliver, and Betty get better.
- Little Black Dress: Provides the title of a song, as Janet gets this as part of her celebrity makeover.
- Obfuscating Disability: Bert isn't actually blind.
- Ominous Multiple Screens: Farley's office.
- Once Upon a Time: Kicks off the Opening Narration.
- The Oner: "Lullaby" has the camera move back and forth across the windows of Dentonvale for several minutes without a cut.
- Opening Chorus: "Denton U.S.A." "Denton, Denton, you've got *clap* no pretention..."
- Opening Narration: "Once upon a time, in a town not far from yours, there lived a real fast guy..."
- Painting the Fourth Wall: One of Janet's final lines in "Bitchin' In The Kitchen" is delivered directly into the camera, addressing the "spectator". She technically means the studio audience in the film but is certainly aimed at the viewer as well. Bonus points for doing this while keeping up the rhyme scheme of the song.
- Panty Shot: Nurse Ansalong, many times through the movie.
- Reality TV: Parodied before its time. Instead of filming real life and using Manipulative Editing to make it more dramatic, they manipulate their actors into behaving in a way suitable for a studio audience.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: "Duel Duet" is two of them at the same time, directed at each other.
- The Renfield: Bert Schnick.
- Separated at Birth: Farley and Brad; their parents died in a car accident and they were adopted by different families.
- Show Within a Show: All of DTV's programming.
- Smug Snake: Ralph Hapschatt, who loves lording his success over his ex-wife Betty. He loses his new girlfriend Macy to Farley — that's the difference between the Smug Snake and the Magnificent Bastard.
- Stepford Suburbia: As a hybrid of a TV station and a town, Denton encourages its residents to be shallow, smiling consumers, or as "Denton U.S.A." puts it, "The acceptable face/Of the human race".
- Studio Audience: Implied to be the entire population of Denton.
- Theme Naming: All of Cosmo and Nation's phony last names, which are those of U.S. presidents.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Bert's blindness is Obfuscating Disability, but he stops wearing the dark glasses and pretends to be cured during the title song and claims the "miracle" is all thanks to Farley and company during the Faith Factory telecast.
- Trust Me, I'm a Doctor: Said by Dr. Cosmo McKinley at the end of the movie trailer, when assuring "You'll be pathetically crazy about Shock Treatment."
- Unintentional Period Piece: Mostly averted, due to anticipating reality televsion by a couple of decades, but the Space Invaders machines hit this pretty hard in "Looking for Trade".
- Viewers Are Geniuses / What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: The seagull Vince brandishes threateningly at Betty. "Does this bird belong to you?"
- Villain Song: Farley has the aptly titled "Farley's Song".
- Villain with Good Publicity: Farley Flavors.
- Women's Mysteries: Betty can pick locks and fix cars with just her hair pin.
- You Look Familiar: The major returning cast members from Rocky Horror (Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, and Charles Gray) all play new characters here. Ralph Hapschatt is played by the same actor — he had a minor role in the first one, though.
"The sun never sets on those who ride into it!"