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Blu-ray Reviews

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-Ray 35th Anniversary



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#1 of 41 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 19 2010 - 09:48 AM

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show: 35th Anniversary (Blu-ray)
Directed by Jim Sharman

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Year:
1975
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 100 minutes
Rating: R
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; Dolby Digital 2.0 mono English, others
Subtitles: SDH, Spanish, French, others


Region: A
MSRP: $ 34.99


Release Date: October 19, 2010

Review Date: October 19, 2010


The Film

3.5/5


I was the entertainment critic for a local newspaper syndicate for a bit shy of two years when I first came into contact with The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film was opening, but Fox hadn’t had any critics’ screenings (never a good sign), so I bought a ticket and went in to the opening day’s showing as a regular patron. I was the only one in the theater. Judging from the dismal box-office returns for its initial release, my situation must have been repeated all across the country since the film didn’t come close to paying back its $ 1½ million production cost. You must remember this was a year before the film took off as a midnight movie cult smash, before water pistols, toilet paper, rice, and newspapers became standard equipment for a Rocky screening. At that first viewing, I was tickled to find that the creators of the piece were doing what other musical theater writers had already done, celebrated an entertainment genre in a stage piece that was both a loving spoof of the form and a satiric comment on the more sophisticated view of the world removed from previous generations (Little Mary Sunshine and Dames at Sea were two American off-Broadway productions which spoofed operetta conventions and 1930s musicals just as Rocky Horror in a small London club satirized science fiction and horror movie conventions only using a rock score instead of the music typical of the scores of those more conventional entertainments). Watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show now to ascertain its quality as a film and not as a communal experience requires that one forget the props, the snappy putdowns and shouted comments that have become required ammunition for seeing Rocky on stage or screen en masse. As a film, it is now as it has always been: a sassy, silly barrel of fun, neither great nor terrible but with some irresistible performances, some entertaining songs, and a devil-may-care air about it that flaunts staid morals and traditions with a wink and a smirk.


After attending a friend’s wedding, engaged couple Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) must take refuge in an old mansion when their car breaks down during a heavy downpour. They soon learn that their host is Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), an omnisexual alien from the planet Transsexual who, with his servants Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), Magenta (Patricia Quinn), and Columbia (Little Nell), has come to Earth to colonize but has gotten sidetracked by Earth culture and temporarily abandoned his mission. He’s attracted to both Janet and Brad, but he’s also consumed with his latest project, creating a new playmate he’s named Rocky (Peter Hinwood), a stunning blonde muscle boy who has a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings. An intrusion by Brad and Janet’s former professor Dr. Everett Scott (Jonathan Adams) and a mutiny by some of his staff put Frank’s plans in serious jeopardy.


Kudos to the original production team for not trying to make their stage production into anything more on film than it was. It was a small, tacky little show, and while the movie obviously offers production values grander than the original show, the musical has not been blown up out of all proportion and remains more or less faithful to what it was originally. As is typical in stage properties which move into the cinematic domain, there have been minor changes to the original material: songs have been dropped or shifted to other singers or to other places in the show. Where Eddie and Dr. Scott were typically played by the same actor on stage, here there are two very different actors assigned to the roles. None of it matters, however, as the numbers still have the verve of the stage performance present, and all of the best moments survive intact. Highlights certainly include Frank’s introductory song which is simply a showstopper, Rocky’s “Sword of Damocles,” Eddie’s dynamic “Hot Patootie,” and the hilarious kick line for “Wild and Untamed Thing.” Elsewhere, director Jim Sharman manages to work in obvious nods to Esther Williams, Busby Berkeley, Judy Garland, King Kong, and Frankenstein (along with its sequel Bride of Frankenstein), while making Frank’s seduction of both Janet and Brad hilarious and yet oddly and surprisingly tasteful at the same time. Yes, the script tends to run out of steam in the second half, but there is still plenty of naughty fun on display as the piece thumbs its nose at sex roles and Puritanism (well, it was the mid-1970s when the sexual revolution was still at its height).


The film allows Tim Curry, Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien, and Little Nell to recreate their original London roles (something not many film musicals adapted from stage works have done) while bringing in Meatloaf (from the first American production), stage star Barry Bostwick (who was the original Danny Zuko in Grease) and Susan Sarandon. Excepting Sarandon (whose singing voice simply isn’t up to the demands of Janet’s musical material though she tries gamely; “Toucha, Toucha Touch Me” is rather painful to endure though she looks great), these performers etch definitive portrayals of these roles and have been forever etched into the memories of those who have seen Rocky Horror one time or hundreds of times. Enough can’t be said about Tim Curry who plays the transvestite Frank with just the right strokes of masculinity and camp humor, a brave performance for an actor trying to get established in films during that era.



Video Quality

4/5


The film’s original 1.66:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color fidelity and saturation is all one could wish, but sharpness isn’t always everything one would hope. The Criminologist’s sequences are most often somewhat soft compared to other scenes, but this isn’t consistently true. Black levels, however, are appropriately inky and impressive. The film has been divided into 35 chapters for the US version and 36 chapters (with the inclusion of the song “Superheroes”) in the UK version.



Audio Quality

4/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix offers a much more impressive spread to the music and sound effects (thunderstorms are especially notable in the surrounds and LFE channels) than one might expect from a low budget mono original from 1975. Though you’ll definitely be able to discern the track’s mono origins, the music still has never sounded as full and rich as it does here. Much credit should be given to the sound engineers who haven’t gone overboard with their spreading out of the music and effects but instead have made the audio sound quite organic to the original low budget origins of the movie.



Special Features

5/5


The disc allows the user to choose to view the original US or UK versions of the movie before taking him to the main menu page.  You can also switch to the other version from the main menu.


“The Midnight Experience” offers the viewer numerous ways to view the movie. You may view the film with the originally conceived black and white opening sequences, you may have a trivia track pop-up box engage, you may turn on the 1983 callback track, you may engage the prop box filled with items you’d need if attending the movie in person which you may use at any time in the movie, and there is the picture-in-picture Shadowcast which performs the movie live while the movie is playing.


“Rocky-oke: Sing It!” obviously turns on karaoke lyrics that allow you to sing along with the film.


The audio commentary featuring Richard O’Brien (writer of the book, music and lyrics and also Riff Raff) and Patricia Quinn is repeated from previous releases of the movie on disc. They share memories of the work and impressions of the film that they like or don’t like, a must listen for fans.


“Don’t Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast” is a 58 ¼-minute documentary (in two parts) detailing the worldwide auditions for fans/performers to perform the show for the Blu-ray disc release. The auditions were held in Los Angeles, New York, London, Paris, and Berlin and performers were judged by a panel that included Patricia Quinn and Barry Bostwick. It’s in 1080i.


“Mick Rock” was the unit photographer on the movie whose stills have been the iconic ones used in all advertising for the movie for decades. This 3 ½ minute piece in 1080i explains how he got the job.


“Mick Rock’s Picture Show” is a gallery of his images in both color and black and white taken during his tenure on the set for the film.


There are two deleted musical scenes: “Once in a While” (3 ¼ minutes) and “Superheroes” (1 ¾ minutes), both in 480i.


There are eleven outtakes which run 10 minutes in 480i.


The Alternate Credit Ending runs 3 ¾ minutes and the Misprint Ending runs 1 ¾ minutes, both in 480i.


Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show” is the 1995 making of documentary repeated from the previous releases of the film on disc. It runs 36 ½ minutes in 480i.


“Beacon Theater, New York City” is another tribute video, this time marking the movie’s tenth anniversary as a midnight cult classic. It runs 5 ½ minutes in 480i.


“’Time Warp’ Music Video” runs 4 ¾ minutes in 480i.


A ½-minute TV Spot and a 3-minute theatrical trailer are both presented in 480i.


The pressbook gallery allows you to page through the pressbook for the movie and highlight any article you wish to read.


The poster gallery displays various posters in different languages for the movie.


The disc features Live Lookup via BD-Live and the IMDb.


[A note on the packaging: Fox has adopted a digibook format for this release though text is minimal. It’s more a picture book featuring those famous Mick Rock stills with the disc housed in the back of the book.]



In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)


The Rocky Horror Picture Show remains the most famous cult midnight movie ever presented, but on its own terms as a piece of cinema, it’s silly fun and quite provocative for its era. What’s more, its unadulterated freedom of expression about matters sexual is likely still able to shock and surprise staid audiences not prepared for its free flowing look at sexual temperaments. The Blu-ray offers appealing audio and video and a raft of bonus material both new and vintage. Recommended!




Matt Hough

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#2 of 41 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 19 2010 - 12:32 PM

Great review.  My copy arrived today.  Kudos to Fox

for doing a really nice job with this title and for getting

it out on Blu-ray as quickly as they did.


Question...


I have a 5.1 system.  Can I effectively play the 7.1

track and have it properly downconverted?



 

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#3 of 41 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 19 2010 - 02:17 PM



Originally Posted by Ronald Epstein 

Great review.  My copy arrived today.  Kudos to Fox

for doing a really nice job with this title and for getting

it out on Blu-ray as quickly as they did.


Question...


I have a 5.1 system.  Can I effectively play the 7.1

track and have it properly downconverted?


Oh, sure. Whatever sound information is in the back surround channels will be mixed in the player/receiver (whichever you have doing the decoding) and sent to your left and right rear surrounds.




#4 of 41 ONLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted October 19 2010 - 03:38 PM

I tried watching with the 1983 callback track engaged. As an introductory screen explains, much has been cut from this track, leaving the theatrical experience alone in it's uniqueness. It's text only, and timed well to the action on the screen. But once I went into the menus and enabled subtitles, I lost the callback track. Disabling subtitles did not restore it. I am using a PS3 that probably needs a firmware upgrade.

The picture-in-picture shadow cast takes up a quarter of the screen. I'll try it next.

#5 of 41 ONLINE   Matt Hough

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Posted October 20 2010 - 12:09 AM



Originally Posted by Steve Tannehill 

I tried watching with the 1983 callback track engaged. As an introductory screen explains, much has been cut from this track, leaving the theatrical experience alone in it's uniqueness. It's text only, and timed well to the action on the screen. But once I went into the menus and enabled subtitles, I lost the callback track. Disabling subtitles did not restore it. I am using a PS3 that probably needs a firmware upgrade.

The picture-in-picture shadow cast takes up a quarter of the screen. I'll try it next.


It does take up a fairly large portion of the screen, and you can toggle to make it full screen if you like.



#6 of 41 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 20 2010 - 12:38 AM

Wow! Wow! Wow!


What a morning I am having.


Woke up and immediately sampled the new

Blu-ray release of Moulin Rouge.  

Watching that transfer immediately put me in

a good mood.


So I then popped in The Rocky Horror Picture

Show and found myself equally as impressed.


You know, I don't ever remember TRHPS
looking particularly good on any previous
format release.  Watching what Fox has done

here is quite a revelation.  The image still

retains some of that softness that I remember

(see chapter 18) but there's definitely more detail.

Colors are certainly more pronounced, particularly

reds as you will see in chapter 10, Rocky's Birthday.

Black levels are very good. Film grain is very evident

throughout which all of us certainly are grateful for.


The real selling point of this disc is the audio.

Holy cow does this soundtrack rock!  The sound

mixers must have gone into overtime to ensure that

this film sounds as good as it does here.  The 7.1

mix (which I am listening to in 5.1) delivers an
unbelievable amount of punch.  Just as impressive

is the amount of noticeable directionality given to

the film's effects, very notable in chapter 5 when

Janet and Brad are caught in a thunderstorm.

One could say the soundtrack sounds so good,

so modern, that it kind of takes you out of the film

itself during the musical numbers because the

lip synching is more evident.  It really is amazing

to watch this film 35 years later and it sounds light

years better than how it did theatrically.

Whomever is designing the menus over at Fox

as of late is putting a lot of thought into them.
Really love the collage done on this menu which

includes various movie posters.


One more thing...you have to be proud as a

fan if this film that Fox made this this their first

digibook release.  Who would ever have thought

Fox would go digibook. I love the inside spread

as well as the packaging. They even did a nice

job with the cover art.


...and I have only just sampled the disc so
early this morning.  Haven't had a chance to

look at the special features.


Let me just conclude by saying The Rocky 

Horror Picture Show is the perfect example of

Blu-ray done right.  You take a mediocre transfer

and you do everything you can to make it shine

both visually and sonically.  You then pack the

disc with extras that fans really want to watch

and you give careful thought to the overall menu

and navigation.

Sampling Moulin Rouge and Rocky Horror 

back-to-back I really have to applaud the effort

put into these discs.  It's as if new life is being

breathed into the Blu-ray format and we suddenly

have the release of two discs that manage to
really excite the senses.



 

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#7 of 41 OFFLINE   Mathieu Lalonde

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Posted October 22 2010 - 06:26 AM

I'm seriously disappointed by this disc... :-(



When I first heard they were going to include the "Vintage 1983 callback track", I was sure they would include the actual AUDIO TRACK, not some incomplete transcript of said track in subtitle form!


Even worst, they didn't include the (bad) track from the previous dvd set... or much of the special features from that dvd set. How about that VH1 stuff from the old DVD? or even the alternate end credits with the instrumental version of Time Warp? (you know, the one our theater played every single week!)


Instead we get a one hour HD featurette on the auditions for the cast of a PiP Blu-ray feature?!? Really?



Don't get me wrong, what IS there is good; I'm really glad to see all those vintage video featurettes from the VHS era (even if the deleted scenes and outtakes are still non-anamorphic!) and the film itself looks and sounds great.  It's just not going to be my first choice go-to disc when I feel like watching this flick, that's all. :-(



Oh and the disc's authoring seems very slow and buggy on my PS3. Switching between versions is slow and sometimes I just get fed up and eject the disc instead of waiting past the 1 minute mark...

Thumbs down.



#8 of 41 OFFLINE   Jesse Skeen

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Posted October 22 2010 - 09:59 AM

I won a copy of this and will check it out as soon as it comes; I bought the DVD the day it came out.  I've heard that somebody screwed up during the transfer and removed the colored filters during the scenes where Frank barges in on Brad and Janet sleeping.  They also used a wrong audio take during one of the songs on the 7.1 mix, though that's not really an issue because the original mono track is still fine and that's the most faithful way to hear it.  (The big deal with the first video release was that the stereo mix had the songs taken from the soundtrack album, which was different than the versions used in the movie.  When a deluxe laserdisc was issued, it claimed to include the original mono track but it was really just the stereo mix presented in mono on one analog track, so the DVD was the first time it was presented properly.)


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Posted October 22 2010 - 10:12 AM

Jesse, the mono track is affected during the end credits....they used a different version of Time Warp Reprise.



#10 of 41 OFFLINE   DavidS

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Posted October 24 2010 - 04:51 PM

My review:


http://www.rockyhorr...uray_review.php


-David Shetterly
Rocky Horror Picture Show Official Fan Club
Vice President / www.RockyHorror.com Webmaster

#11 of 41 OFFLINE   dannyone11

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Posted October 26 2010 - 04:43 AM

HI..I called Fox yesterday from the number provided on the dvd and talked to someone named Jeff who's said he was in charge of product support. I asked him about the

audio track on the Midnight Experience where I only got subtitles like you were describing.


He thought it was supposed to be an audio track also (not just subtitles) so there actually may be something wrong with the 1st batch of dvds..He's going to get back with me once he checked out his disc he had as the office.


I guess we'll have to see what they say. I have the dvd from the 25th and that definately  has an audio track of people yelling (though I recall after awhile it got annoying Posted Image



#12 of 41 OFFLINE   jt19006

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Posted October 26 2010 - 05:07 AM

I don't mind the "alternate take" on the vocals on the one song...in fact I think I like it better.  It sounds more "live" somehow.


As for the extras they seem to be heavily weighted toward the "experience" and not the film.  VERY DISAPPOINTING!!!!!!!!!!!!  I give this release and "A" rating for the audio and video and a "D" for the extras.



#13 of 41 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted October 26 2010 - 07:30 PM

I, too, am really disappointed in the callback track being text only.  Half the 'joke' of some of these lines is how and when they're called out.  I'm curious about the above call to Fox regarding this track, but while I wait for that to play out I'm seriously considering doing my own remix of the film soundtrack and dubbing the Antic-i-pation album into the rear speakers with the mono soundtrack playing out the front.



#14 of 41 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted October 27 2010 - 06:29 AM

I would do it like this: Use the 20th anniversary LD callback track (split track - film/audience), and use the "Time Warp" encore credit ending for audio.  This is how prints always screened, and it was this version that was used for the callback recording on the LD (check out the "Dentist!" callback from LSOH during Columbia's tap dance section in the soundtrack).


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#15 of 41 OFFLINE   Mathieu Lalonde

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Posted October 27 2010 - 07:11 AM



Originally Posted by Paul D G 

...but while I wait for that to play out I'm seriously considering doing my own remix of the film soundtrack and dubbing the Antic-i-pation album into the rear speakers with the mono soundtrack playing out the front.


I've done something like that a couple years back (the real trouble was synching the two, seeing as the Audience Participation Album runs a little slow). I was frankly hoping to be able to replace it with this Blu-ray but it looks like i'll have to keep both! :-(



#16 of 41 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted October 27 2010 - 07:22 PM


Originally Posted by Mathieu Lalonde 

I've done something like that a couple years back (the real trouble was synching the two, seeing as the Audience Participation Album runs a little slow). I was frankly hoping to be able to replace it with this Blu-ray but it looks like i'll have to keep both! :-(



I'm anticipating that.  I plan on finding key points at the start and end of the film, compare with the same points on the AP album, finding the difference, and running a Time Stretch to try and sync the two.



#17 of 41 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted October 28 2010 - 01:22 AM



Originally Posted by Keith Paynter 

I would do it like this: Use the 20th anniversary LD callback track (split track - film/audience), and use the "Time Warp" encore credit ending for audio.  This is how prints always screened, and it was this version that was used for the callback recording on the LD (check out the "Dentist!" callback from LSOH during Columbia's tap dance section in the soundtrack).


Is the LD callback a different recording from the Audience Participation album?  I don't recall a Dentist callback.  I've just listened to the section and I don't hear it either.  There are two guys low in the mix saying something but I need to open it in my audio editing software to zero in on it.

If the LD is a unique recording I'll have to pick that up!  Then maybe have alternate choices for AP recordings.  Posted Image



#18 of 41 OFFLINE   Mathieu Lalonde

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Posted October 28 2010 - 05:44 AM



Originally Posted by Paul D G 

I'm anticipating that.  I plan on finding key points at the start and end of the film, compare with the same points on the AP album, finding the difference, and running a Time Stretch to try and sync the two.



It's a little more complicated than that... the film was actually projected in a movie theater so you have to take into account the variance in the projectionist's timing whenever he changes film reels as well! :-)



#19 of 41 OFFLINE   Paul D G

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Posted October 28 2010 - 07:52 PM

^^  Good point.  I might have to adjust in ten minute segments.  I'll give it a shot.


I'm still curious if the 20th Anniversary LD AP recording is unique.  I can't find any details on it.


BTW - Mathieu's observation re the time differences of the AP track being recorded from a projected film rather than a screening of the digital copy used for the DVD/Bluray might be the very reason it's not included on the Blu.  It was too difficult to sync.



#20 of 41 OFFLINE   Keith Paynter

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Posted October 29 2010 - 07:29 AM

Yes, the LD/DVD callback is entirely different to the 1983 'Partici-pation' LP/CD.  It is recorded in more of a studio screening room environment, is much more intimate sounding than the full-sized theater recording from 1983,  and is well isolated from the film soundtrack on the LD (possibly by running the film "out of phase" to cancel it), as opposed to how it was handled on the DVD releases (mixed in - I would have much preferred a true 4-channel surround mix).  The LD track version starts immediately with the TCFHV and THX logos ("Start the f***in' flick! Woo!!").  The audio on the audience tracks tend to over-run into black for each side, so it was most likely that the audience was watching tape masters for the dedicated sides.


There are some very funny individual lines, but occasionally a lot of gibberish from multiple audience members, and since the source is connected to the LD timing, your source easily runs virtually in sync for re-authoring (there will be dual-layer lag from the DVD's)! And, once again, this audience is watching a print with the "Time Warp" reprise, common to the majority of prints (although treated as an extra since the 1995 home video releases), so replace that audio from the point the door closes.


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