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YMMV / The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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  • Adaptation Displacement: The Rocky Horror Show stage production is pretty popular in its native UK, but good luck finding an American viewer who has any knowledge of it.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation:
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Depending on which fanfic you read, Dr. Frank N Furter is either A.) An abusive, psychotic, heartless jerk who only manipulates and hurts (both physically and emotionally) other people for his own personal amusement or B.) A misunderstood person who only acts the way he does due to some mysterious past tragedy.
    • It's also easy to make a case for Frank being a trans woman, based on their verse in Rose Tint My World, whose dysphoria caused them to act in such a way instead of some past tragedy.
    • Likewise, are Riff Raff & Magenta an evil brother/sister duo plotting Frank's downfall, or are they merely the victims of Frank's abuse and their actions are completely justified? Fanfics will vary greatly on the answer. (Note that Riff Raff killed not only Frank, but also Columbia and Rocky, for no obvious reason.)
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    • There are also plenty of fics where Columbia's personality ranges from bubbly and full of energy all the time, to always in tears and constantly depressed. Fan fic writers can't seem to make their minds up.
  • Why Frank murdered Eddie beyond him just being crazy.
  • Author's Saving Throw: Despite some contingencies among LGBTQ+ activists as to whether or not this movie's representation of them holds up, it's important to remember that Frank is the only Transylvanian who commits any seriously monstrous crimes like murder and rape, not to mention is repeatedly called out for it, first by Columbia's "The Reason You Suck" Speech and later when Riff Raff tells him his "lifestyle's too extreme." Riff Raff and Magenta's relationship is questionable at best and the worst thing they do is kill Rocky and Columbia out of spite (let's be fair, Frank had it coming).
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  • Best Known for the Fanservice: Sing along, now, everybody: "I'm just a sweet transvestite..."
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The only thing that could keep "Hot Patootie - Bless My Soul" from being a BLAM is the fact that the dinner scene calls back to it. With little or no warning, Meat Loaf rides out of a walk-in freezer on a motorcycle, sings a song, and gets murdered. That's about as BLAM-tastic as it can get.
    • In the original play, Eddie is mentioned by Columbia before Riff & Magenta (and the Phantoms) else tells them to keep quiet... Which foreshadows Eddie's inevitable appearance, musical number, and death. However, this foreshadowing (for some reason) was cut from the film causing Eddie's appearance and musical number to be totally out-of-nowhere. It's a bizarre case of the character's scene being a BLAM, yet having the character being important to the plot. The 2016 film remake, however, shows Eddie riding a motorcycle in the way of Brad and Janet driving their car in the pouring rain in the night.
    • The Zen Room Dr. Scott speeds by. Why's it there? Who cares?!
    • Not to mention Frank dressing most of the characters as him and proceeding to have an elaborate floor show with them. It makes sense from a character standpoint that Frank would treat all of them as his personal play things, dressing them up and making them put on a show for his own entertainment, but note in an empty house?note  In the middle of the night?
  • Broken Base:
    • In recent years, there's been a divide over the Audience Participation - while older fans defend it as integral to the fandom, a lot of newcomers complain that it has created a hostile or noisy environment. There is also an increasing awareness that all the thrown objects mean that theater employees have to stay late to clean up, which is driving smaller theaters to cancel the midnight showings - many shows also ban props that don't come in a pre-existing packet, and work in reminders to not throw props at the screen, actors, or lighting.
    • As the show ages and culture moves on, some fans have become increasingly uncomfortable with the tradition of screaming out "slut" each time Janet's name is called. Similarly, the "SIEG HEIL!" callout has dwindled, and even gained its own callout: "Sit down, Nazi".
    • The film's place in the canon of queer cinema has also come into question in recent years as transgender people become more prominent in the LGBT community. While plenty of transgender individuals claim that it helped them become more comfortable with themselves as much as it did gay, lesbian and bisexual people, a minority of others argue that the film is a painful reminder that society sees them as sick or perverted. Adding fuel to the fire is Richard O'Brien's apparent belief that transgender individuals all occupy a third gender, despite being non-binary himself.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • It's not often that a pansexual transvestite murdering a 1950's motorcyclist is hilarious.
    • One of the Audience Participation gags which evolves with the times: when Riff-Raff shows Brad and Janet the skeleton near the start of the film, it's customary to shout out "SHOW US" and the name of whatever celebrity has most recently died. Bonus points if it's someone people really liked, especially if they had an early or especially tragic death.
  • Cult Classic: Typically cited by reviewers as the definitive example of a cult film.
  • Designated Hero: Brad and Janet - seemingly wholesome couple that turn out to have short tempers dismissive of anyone not "normal", airs of being wholesome, and, finally, trying to keep each others' infidelities a secret. There's a reason that they're respectively called "Asshole" and "Slut" by riffers. In point of fact, Brad is called "a hero" in the opening but he doesn't really do anything heroic at all.
  • Director Displacement: The movie is more often associated with creator and writer, Richard O'Brien rather than director, Jim Sharman.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Kids, don't have lots of sex, or you might end up in a fabulous musical. It's ultimately left up to the audience if Brad and Janet embracing their desires has left them broken. (This is less ambiguous if one accepts Shock Treatment as canon, as they definitely start that film as broken, and it is only over the course of that film that they relearn how to be functional people.)
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Many fans try to present Riff Raff and Magenta as being far more worthy of pity than they are in the film. Yes, the same Riff Raff and Magenta who killed Rocky, Frank, and Columbia out of pure spite.
    • Likewise, Frank gets the same treatment the same way. Um, since when are we supposed to feel sorry for the guy who tricked two innocent people into having sex with him, brutally murdered a guy from whom he removed half a brain (said half-of-brain was used to make Rocky, BTW) and then tricked said people he had sex with into eating the remains of the guy he murdered? The only aspect of Frank that anyone should feel sympathy towards is the fact that he's batshit insane. His final song, "I'm Going Home", is a very desperate attempt to get people to feel sorry for him. The fact that it doesn't work and he gets killed anyway speaks volumes about the character.
  • Epileptic Trees: A common fan guess is that Janet's pregnant at the end, thanks to Frank's line "I've laid the seed/It should be all you need" in "Planet Schmanet Janet". This supposedly would've been confirmed outright in the never-made sequel, Revenge of the Old Queen.
  • Everyone Is Satan in Hell: Isaac Weishaupt wrote a book called It's Just a Jump to the Left: The Unauthorized Guide to Occult Symbolism in the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Frank is sexy. This can be attested to by every fan of this movie.
    • It's not just the movie version either- Rob Morton Fowler's portrayal of Frank in the recent European tour starts at sexy and goes straight into bishonen-beautiful.
    • Riff-Raff and Magenta both have large fan bases, and not without reason.
  • Fair for Its Day: The film is very much a product of its time.
    • It was a celebration of the then-recent sexual revolution and what modicum of visibility queer people had within 1970s counterculture. As mentioned on This Very Wiki, the increased awareness of gay and trans rights since 1975 has brought into question the film's decision to depict gay people and cross-dressers as literal aliens (an appropriate metaphor at the time, now it feels somewhat backhanded) with some even calling it outright transphobic, not helped by the characters' immoral behavior. The connotation between "transsexual" and "transvestite" would also be discouraged today, as they are two different issues.
    • Alternatively, one could argue that Rocky Horror is a significant reason that Society has marched on. Since 1976, untold millions of (mostly) young people have taken part in, not just a movie, but an audience experience in which the most charming, intelligent, dynamic and (see above) sexy character is a bi-if-not-omnisexual transvestite, and along with him have sung "Don't dream it, be it" countless times. And while not everyone loves it, it's still helping young queer people come to terms with their sexualities and genders, even if it's not exactly up-to-date with modern values.
  • Foe Yay: Riff Raff/Frank-N-Furter slash fanfics exist.
  • Genius Bonus: "Sonic Transducer" means "microphone or speaker" (not vibrator).
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • During Science Fiction Double Feature, Richard O'Brien sings about Flash Gordon being there in silver underwear. Five years later O'Brien went on to play Fico in the movie.
    • During Dammit Janet, the audience often shouts note  "That you fuck Mom and you blow Dad". Shock Treatment reveals Harry Weiss to be a Heteronormative Crusader who thinks "Faggots are Maggots" and gets so uncomfortable when gay people are mentioned that he has to leave the room.
    • "Don't dream it, be it." The actor singing that song would be It fifteen years later.
    • A character played by Tim Curry kills a man named Eddie. Later in 2009, the same thing is attempted again.
    • Likewise, this was not the last time that a character played by Meat Loaf would get involved with a cult-like group of people and then get killed for pointless reasons. It happened again in 1999.
    • In the scene when Janet is singing "Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me" , Columbia is wearing Mickey Mouse ears. Disney purchased 20th Century Fox in March 2019.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Rocky is only called "Rocky Horror" in the credits and the comic book. The movie just calls him "Rocky". (The narrator refers to him as "Rocky Horror" during "The Sword of Damocles" in the stageshow; his part was cut out for the movie version.)
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks!: Journalist Matt Singer has questioned whether the popularity of The Rocky Horror Picture Show invalidates its status as a Cult Classic.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Frank is the single most common one, but Columbia, Magenta, and Riff Raff are have their fair share of ships.
  • Les Yay: Magenta and Columbia can't keep their hands off each other in private. note 
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Its Cult Classic status and rabid fandom are also well-known.
    • "I got pneumonia."note 
    • "I see you shiver with antici... pation. note 
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales:
    • A lot of British people like the film due to most of the cast being British. Also, performances of the original stage show (The Rocky Horror Show) are more common in the UK than the US, where showings of the movie with shadowcasts are more common than the stage show.
    • Despite some of the more dated depictions of queer people, it remains one of the most popular films in queer cinema to this day.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Riff Raff's coldblooded murder of Columbia.
    • Also, Frank's much more brutal killing of Eddie.
  • Narm Charm: The movie is ridiculously camp and that's why people love it.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Meat Loaf's role as Eddie in Rocky Horror. He bursts out of a freezer (on a motorcycle, of course), sings a song, and is not seen or heard from again. Until the dinner guests realize that he's become the main course.note 
  • Retroactive Recognition: Among the principal musicians who performed the music for the film is the keyboardist Rabbit, who would later become the touring keyboardist for The Who.
  • Signature Song: "Time Warp" is the most well known song even among people who haven't seen the movie, with "Sweet Transvestite" coming in second.
  • So Bad, It's Good: This movie is a textbook deliberate case of this. The plot (such as it is) is very like Manos: The Hands of Fate (probably unintentional, given "Manos"'s cliched plot and utter obscurity until MST3K found it) with vast galloping amounts of homoerotica thrown in. The characters were, for the most part, based on those of the Bulgakov novel The Master and Margarita - itself a modern masterpiece, partly because all of its failed drama is deliberate. Richard O'Brien intentionally made it this way, as a tribute to the campy sci-fi films of the 50s & 60s (as evidenced by the opening number Science Fiction/Double Feature.)
  • Special Effect Failure: Just one of its many charms.
    • The one real offender is probably the corpse of Eddie under the dinner table, which is pretty obviously a mannequin. It could easily have been avoided if they just had Meat Loaf there in corpse make-up.
    • You can see the wires pulling Dr Scott's wheelchair up the stairs on his way to the zen room and when the castle blasts off at the end the real castle is visible through the smoke.
    • The anti-matter effect isn't much more than a sparsely animated flashing light very clearly superimposed over the live-action footage.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: The Audience Participation made note of how the beginning of "Over At The Frankenstein Place" sounded a lot like the middle section of The Beatles' "A Day In The Life" ("Woke up/Fell outta bet/Dragged a comb across ma head...").
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: The video game is generally hated by gamers and Rocky Horror fans alike.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: How most fans felt about the TV adaptation.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • It might have been funnier to leave Columbia as a statue. She's treated so poorly throughout the film that getting turned to stone seems like a fitting end to her torment. Of course, that would have meant sacrificing her contribution to the floor show.
    • The 2016 made-for-TV remake is largely a shot-for-shot redo of the original. With the exception of the Usherette character being utilized in the remake, no other elements from the original stage production not used in the 1975 film are presented in the remake. Rocky is even still mute, even though here there's no reason for him to be. Columbia's death is also exactly the same as in the 1975 film.
    • On a social level, many felt that the remake was a wasted opportunity to address some of the more questionable points of the original and update the story, even if very slightly, for the advancements in society that occurred since its release. Many were bothered by the fact that not only were there no changes to the script, but Frank's casting only opened up a new can of worms. Frank became a female character played by transgender actress Laverne Cox, and casting a trans person as a transvestite is already questionable. It may seem better that Frank isn't actually a crossdresser here...but "Sweet Transvestite" is exactly the same, lyrics and all. This was noted to possibly lead to additional damaging associations between trans people and crossdressers (the lyrics might now be read as inadvertently devaluing Cox's identity by implying she's in drag), on top of the terminology just being incorrect for a woman in women's clothes. There were also complaints that despite increased acceptance today, Frank's Gender Flip and the TV network restrictions caused a lot of the sexuality and homoeroticism to be toned down and left the film feeling unwelcomely sanitized.
    • Others wanted to see the remake take place in the present day, and felt that the outdated character types for Brad and Janet no longer played well when being used in a modern work, no matter how cheesy the story is supposed to be.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: O'Brien said that Eddie's Teddy was added to the play to stop viewers feeling sorry for Eddie but they still do anyway.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs: The Cinema Snob said it was like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory if the factory only made laced gummies.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • As mentioned above, this movie is very much a product of the far more heteronormative 1970s, which may be why it was a flop when it first came out. It an age where the LGBT community has significantly more visibility and (arguably) respect, more people take umbrage with the fact that Frank is portrayed as a perverted nutjob, something that is viewed today as a very negative stereotype of homo/transsexuals. On the other hand, the film's Be Yourself moral is played straight, and creator Richard O'Brien identifies as nonbinary in real life.
    • The terms "transvestite" and "transsexual," both of which were considered accurate descriptions of the kind of person the Transylvanians are in the 1970s, have also largely fallen out of favor in the decades since the film's release due to new distinctions and understandings. Neither word is recommended, and their successors are now held to represent different concepts. "Transsexual" has been replaced by "transgender" with the meaning of "a person whose preferred gender identity does not align with their biological sex" and "transvestite" being replaced by "crossdresser" to mean "someone who dresses as another gender without identifying as such."
  • Vindicated by History: A rare example where one could actually see its evolution from a flop B-Movie into a pop-culture behemoth, as the now-famous Audience Participation which has kept it alive all these years started just as the film was finishing its original theatrical run.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: There are many little kids who are fans of Rocky Horror, but there is a ton of sex and several scary scenes, including two scenes involving four deaths, but it's not as bad as most R rated movies nowadays. Its sequel, Shock Treatment, although it is rated PG, contains more cursing and suggestive language than in Rocky Horror.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?:
    • Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn admitted during the commentary that they were stoned whilst filming the wedding scenes.
    • Christopher Biggins said there were a lot of drugs on set and that he and the other Transylvanians were stoned every day.
  • The Woobie: Poor Rocky, who appears to be only slightly smarter than your average house pet, goes through a lot of grief in one night without having any idea why. Most fans sympathize very strongly with Columbia, who really gets treated like dirt. Her only friend appears to be Magenta, who later betrays her by turning her into a statue.


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