The American Society of Cinematographers

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The Adjustment Bureau
Career TV Award
Presidents Award
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
The Naked Kiss
Rocky Horror
The Thin Red Line
ASC Close-Up
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Blu-ray Edition
1.66:1 (High Definition 1080p)
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 & Digital Monaural
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $34.99




Into the proverbial dark and stormy night stumble the uber-square Brad (Barry Bostwick) and Janet (Susan Sarandon) toward a mysterious castle in hopes of using a phone to report their flat tire. Ushered inside by sinister butler Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien) and his brooding sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn), they meet a houseful of unusual guests including groupie Columbia (Little Nell), delivery boy Eddie (Meatloaf) and a cabal of crazed, tuxedo clad revelers. Finally, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) a self proclaimed “sweet transvestite” enters, offering the trembling couple respite from the rain and a chance to witness the birth of his new creation, Rocky (Peter Hinwood). Trapped in the silk gloved clutches of their host, Brad and Janet spend the night trying to avoid being corrupted by this high heeled doctor who is not only mad but visiting from another planet!

In the early 1970's, when unemployed, British actor Richard O'Brien wrote The Rocky Horror Show, a campy send up of Hollywood horror, sci-fi cliches and beach blanket musicals, spiced with transvestism and an anything goes, pansexual, party atmosphere, he had no idea he was laying the seeds for what is now considered the quintessential cult film of modern cinema. The instant popularity of the play surprised everyone including O'Brien's director friend Jim Sharman whose 1973 production quickly became London's “must see” hit.  Its award winning popularity sent the musical to Australia, Broadway and then for a stint in Los Angeles.

Produced on film as The Rocky Horror Picture Show by 20th Century Fox in 1975, the musical surprised all again, this time opening to disastrous reviews and low audience attendance. Famously, a few years later, the film resurfaced at New York City's Waverly Theater as a Saturday midnight movie. Fairly quickly, repeat crowds began returning each weekend, singing the film's songs, dressing like characters and talking back to the screen. Audiences grew and members took over, throwing props and developing a “shadow cast” that performed below the screen. Word of this midnight phenomenon spread and Fox shipped prints to numerous cities as Rocky Horror fever warped across the United States. By 1981, the film was playing midnights in 50 states, parts of Canada, Europe and Japan as an audience participation event.
 
For its 35th birthday, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has spread fresh lipstick on this cult classic for its blu-ray debut.  Within the included supplements, producer Lou Adler and director Sharman reminisce about bringing the show to the screen with its spirit intact.  While backers at Fox initially wanted to cast the film with rock celebrities, they reluctantly allowed Sharman to keep most of the show's original cast members as well as the original design team, but insisted on a budget of $1.5 million.

Sharman worked with the show's production designer Brian Thomson and costume designer Sue Blane to translate and broaden their original concepts. For the film's castle location, the designers settled upon an aging gothic mansion dubbed ”the old dark house” after its appearances in films of the Hammer House of Horror. Sharman then selected Peter Suschitzky, ASC, to serve as director of photography. Shooting primarily in the literally crumbling mansion and two sound stages, Suschitzky expertly illuminated the sets, quickly becoming a trusted member of the design team by giving glittery radiance to the film against the inky blacks of the stormy night it unfolds upon.  

Fox has been meticulous with the various video incarnations of Rocky Horror and for its Blu-ray debut the careful image transfer is nothing short of spectacular. This 4K digital image master from the original negative is alive with saturated primary colors and free of any chroma distortion. Black levels seem exact with special attention to sharpness. Every kinky, wild bit of flair from a speck of glitter to the Michelangelo inspired swimming pool pops with detail. Suschitzky's crisp blacks balanced with bold silvers and reds are truly film like here with excellent contrast that is sure to illuminate darkened living rooms in a whole new way. Thankfully, Fox has preserved and included the film's original monaural sound mix but the masterful 7.1 DTS-HD audio mix is really a surprise. The original monaural sound stems have been newly engineered here to play across the surround field giving specific orchestral cues, chorus vocals and sound effects a rowdy new life that's a great deal of fun. 

Arriving in a digibook case with several pages of stills, the disc boasts a goodie bag of supplements worthy of any red carpet affair. Nearly all of the original materials produced for earlier home editions are here including outtakes, documentaries, a commentary track and more. There are also new features in HD, notably a lengthy segment on the worldwide auditions for the blu-ray's optional “live shadow cast” feature that cleverly brings the theater's performance element to home screens.

This delightful, HD “party in a box” package of The Rocky Horror Picture Show where even the menus are wildly creative is full of surprises and does justice to this beloved entertainment. This “once in screen history” cult film phenomenon radiantly lives on for the “faithful” and the “virgins”, salaciously dancing the Time Warp on blu-ray. As the film's mantra so eloquently suggests, “give yourself over to absolute pleasure” and buy this blu-ray as every movie lover should have it on his shelf (or in his closet).
 

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