Film / Shock Treatment

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"You'll be pathetically crazy about Shock Treatment.
Trust me... I'm a doctor."

"Not a sequel... not a prequel... but an equal."

Shock Treatment 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:

  • The Ace: In "Farley's Song", he keeps referring to himself as an ace rather than a king.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Farley Flavors' Fabulous Fast Foods Feed and Fortify Families for a Fabulous Future!"
  • Alliterative Name: Farley Flavors.
    • Most of DTV's shows have names like this; Denton Dossier,Faith Factory, Happy Homes and Marriage Maze.
  • American Gothic Couple: This portrait can be seen hanging in the prop room as a nod to the first movie.
  • And You Were There: Oscar Drill and The Bits appear as the pool and arcade game players in Janet's dream.
  • Ascended Extra: Ralph and Betty Hapschatt make the transition from very minor characters mostly meant to establish where Brad and Janet were going before winding up at Frank's place, to secondary villain and one of the main heroes, respectively.
  • 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.
    • You can read it here.
    • 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.
  • Breakup Song: "In My Own Way" is sung by Janet to Brad while he's sedated in Dentonvale.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Between Cosmo and Nation Justified because they're only actors pretending to be brother and sister.
  • Building of Adventure: Denton is all inside one TV studio.
  • 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."
  • Camp Straight: Cosmo must be straight or at least bi as he sleeps with Nation but in "Little Black Dress" he sings about how his favourite thing to do as a child was to make and wear women's clothes. Though this song was originally intended to be sung by Dr Frank N. Furter in an earlier draft.
  • 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. (And even then 'Brad' and 'Janet' are such common names one could easily presume Richard O'Brian just likes those names and reused them - except for the fact their surname is Majors. Also Betty Hapschatt and Ralph Monroe were characters from RHPS too.)
    • Also Richard O'Brien disowned this movie as "an abortion" not long after it cam out, attempted sequels like Revenge Of The Old Queen and Rocky Horror: The Second Coming seem to ignore 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Janet never signed Brad's commitment papers.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Betty is really good at picking locks. Becomes a Brick Joke when she hotwires the convertible at the end.
  • City in a Bottle: The entirety of Denton seems to be inside a TV studio.
  • City of Weirdos: It seems that if you live in Denton, you either work for DTV or permanently live in the audience stand. By the end of the movie the entire population besides the main characters are singing happily in a mental home while wearing straightjackets.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Without a script or orders from Farley, Bert Schnick tends to drift into his own world.
  • Companion Cube: "Bitchin' in The Kitchen" is a song where Brad and Janet ask inanimate household objects for marriage advice.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Farley Flavors.
  • Crapsaccharine World: See Stepford Suburbia 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.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Farley seems to be doing this near the end of "Me of Me".
  • Decoy Protagonist: Listening to the Opening Narration, you'd think Farley was the main character.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The racism directed towards Mexicans and the homophobia shown by Janet's father.
  • 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.
  • Distant Duet: "Bitchin' in The Kitchen" was one in the draft script. Brad would have been singing in the kitchen while Janet sang upstairs in the bedroom and bathroom but the finished movie has them sitting on the set of Marriage Maze singing to advertisements on a TV monitor.
  • 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.)
  • Double Take: Ralph does this when Bert mutters that Brad and Janet should be sent down the Danube at dawn.
  • Dramatic Pause: Used to allow for Audience Participation. This forced attempt didn't work for the sequel.
  • Duet Of Differences: Brad and Janet's troubled marriage is introduced in the song "Bitchin' in the Kitchen", in which Brad whines and Janet rages. Later in the film, Brad squares off against Farley in the song "Duel Duet".
  • 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 '80s: Very early Eighties, most obviously in the new wave and punk stylings of the songs.
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: "Duel Duet".
  • Everytown, America: The song Denton USA invokes this trope. The movie was supposed to play this trope completely straight by filming it in an actual american town called Denton but a writers' strike meant that Denton had to be completely set in a film studio.
  • 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.
  • Film Comic: The fansite has an incomplete one. It's referred to as a Movie Novel after the one Richard Anobile made of the first film.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Taken to a ridiculous extreme when Janet's father sees her after she becomes a TV star.
    Janet's father: "You're practically naked!"
    The Cinema Snob: "Um.... except for that black dress that's covering her entire body!"
  • Funny Background Event: Keep a close eye on the audience when Janet makes her big DTV debut ("Me of Me"), and see Cosmo and Nation getting really into her act over by the commissary.
    • More of a Funny Foreground Event, Bert just sitting on his bed somehow becomes more absurd throughout the entirety of "Lullaby" as the camera keeps panning over to him still sitting there even as the lights go out.
  • Gainax Ending: Bordering on Happy Ending: Brad, Janet, Betty and Oliver happily sing and dance away, stealing the convertible. All of the citizens of Denton are committed to Dentonvale, but they seem happy about it, and they were assholes anyway.
  • Genre Shift: Doesn't have any of the science fiction or horror elements that the first movie has.
  • Greek Chorus: Farley spends most of the movie before the end watching everybody else on Ominous Multiple Screens.
  • Hairpin Lockpick: Betty is extremely handy with one.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Farley Flavors tries this on Brad in "Duel Duet". Brad doesn't go along with it.
  • Happiness in Slavery: The people in Denton sure enjoy being locked up and in straitjackets at the end.
  • "The Hero Sucks" Song/ "The Villain Sucks" Song: "Duel Duet" is a Call-and-Response Song that is both of these between Brad and Farley.
  • 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!
  • Hospital Hottie: Nurse Ansalong. Macy Struthers dresses like a nurse during "Look What I Did To My Id".
  • Hypocrite: The studio audience cheers a racist remark towards Mexicans, despite Denton's supposed "tolerance for the ethnic races" as mentioned in "Denton, USA".
  • "I Am" Song: "Thank God I'm a Man" for Janet's dad is all about his manly man philosophy.
  • Inherently Funny Words: "Hoopla." Used throughout the entire movie.
  • Ironic Echo: "Denton U.S.A." during "Anyhow, Anyhow".
  • It's All About Me: The whole point of "Me of Me".
  • Jerk Ass: Pretty much all the characters in this movie apart from Brad, Betty Hapschatt, or the Judge. But Janet gets better.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to its predecessor. Nobody gets murdered or cooked up to eat in this movie.
  • Little Black Dress: Provides the title of a song, as Janet gets this as part of her celebrity makeover and does Modeling Poses while pictures are taken of her in it.
  • Medley Overture: The overture to Shock Treatment is a medley of "Denton, USA" and "Anyhow, Anyhow".
  • Minion Shipping: Cosmo and Nation McKinley, who are depicted as a married couple (though they still pretend to be siblings), and Rest Home Ricky and Nurse Ansalong are also revealed to be paired off. note 
  • Musical World Hypothesis: Mostly diegetic because nearly everything in Denton is a reality TV show but "Looking For Trade" is a dream that Janet had after she was drugged.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Bert isn't actually blind.
    • An early draft would have had Doctor Scott from the first movie filling his role. One scene would have had Nation walk in to find him standing in front of his wheelchair, then he would quickly get back into it.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: Brad and Janet (and minor characters Ralph and Betty- and possibly the Criminologist) are the only Rocky characters to appear. In an unusual case, all except Ralph and the Criminologist are played by different performers, while several performers from Rocky appear in different roles.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Farley's office.
  • Once Upon a Time: Kicks off the Opening Monologue.
  • 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 Monologue: "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.
  • Perky Female Minion: Nurse Ansalong, just like Columbia in the first movie.
  • Phoney Call: Judge Oliver Wright and Betty Hapschatt at adjacent pay phones to cover up the fact that they're actually talking to each other while listening in on a conversation between some nearby bad guys.
  • Quarreling Song: Duel Duet.
  • 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 best thing you could ever do is die!"
  • The Renfield: Bert Schnick.
  • Repeating Ad: In-universe example, we first see the Farley Flavors Fast Food commercial when a show on DTV takes a break, and if you listen closely, we can hear the commercial play again when Janet is at Brad's parents' house.
  • Rhyming with Itself: Most of the lines in "Me of Me" end with the word "Me".
  • Riding into the Sunset: The lyrics "The sun never sets on those who ride into it..." appear in the final song.
  • Separated at Birth: Farley and Brad; their parents died in a car accident and they were adopted by different families.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: In "Bitchin' in The Kitchen", Janet calls an alarm clock a "Micro-digital awaker".
  • Shoe Phone: Bert's walking stick doubles as a phone/radio that he can use to talk to Farley.
  • 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 Smiler: Played for Laughs. Denton is a hybrid of a TV station and a town, so naturally it encourages its residents to be shallow, cheerful consumers.
  • 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.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Denton's theme song makes a point of highlighting their "tolerance for the ethnic races", and states that they've got no pretenses.
  • Take That, Audience!: Shock Treatment parodies the only audience that would ever give it attention - Rocky Horror fans. The TV studio audience shouts in unison at what they're watching, seem hopelessly (and happily) glued to their seats, worship Brad and Janet's every move, and blindly follow the characters, even when they're all led into a mental institution. Subtly, they're also wearing costumes from Rocky Horror.
    • On top of that, cheerleader Francine DEMANDS to be called "Frankie". And only "Frankie".
    • On a fourth-wall-breaking basis, the film also includes quite a few tenuous references for those trying to make a connection between this film and RHPS - to name a few, a fictitious TIME magazine with Rocky lips on the cover, sitting in plain view; dialogue references to "a rocky marriage" and "anticipation" (the latter being said while Frank's now-red throne is visible); the newspaper headline "UFO spotted over Denton"; Riff and Magenta expys discussing 'their old series'; etcetera, etcetera.
  • Theme Naming: All of Cosmo and Nation's phony last names, which are those of U.S. presidents.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Bert Schnick. Aside from being an obvious Homage to Dr. Strangelovenote , he mentions being sent to the Danube as a punishment as well as some Gratuitous German.
  • 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.
  • Title Track: The song "Shock Treatment."
  • 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"."
  • 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.
  • Visual Gag: At the end of "Little Black Dress", they all strike the pose that Frank N. Furter, Columbia, Magnenta and Riff-Raff had during "Sweet Transvestite".
  • Where The Hell Is Denton?: The Opening Monologue refers to it as being set in a town "not far from yours", it was originally supposed to be filmed in Denton, Texas but the Screen Actor's Guild going on strike put a halt to that, meaning it had to be filmed in England.
  • Women's Mysteries: Betty can pick locks and fix cars with just her hair pin.


"The sun never sets on those who ride into it!"
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