The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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Those nylons never had it so good.

I see you shiver with antici...[1]

"I would like,[2] if I may,[3] to take you[4] on a strange journey..."[5]

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 musical film by Richard O'Brien. It's most famous for still being played in theaters all over the world once a week, and for having a fanbase that dresses up, throws stuff at the screen, re-enacts the scenes and generally indulges in Audience Participation. The film is based on The Musical/Stageshow The Rocky Horror Show, also by Richard O'Brien (who played Riff Raff both in its original staging and this film).

The story: Brad [6] and Janet [7] are two lovely, naive virgins from Denton, Texas, who get engaged and drive off to tell Dr. Scott,[8] their former teacher. However, on the way there, they get a flat tire and find themselves outside a spooky castle house ("It's probably a hunting lodge for rich weirdos" [9])... and that's where things get really, really, reeaaaaaaaaalllly weird.

They meet the servants, Riff-Raff and Magenta, and groupie Columbia, who live with Dr. Frank-N-Furter... a "Sweet" Transvestite Mad Scientist, to be specific (from Transsexual, Transylvania). After being stripped down to their underwear, they are invited up to Frank-N-Furter's lab where he unveils his creation—the Brainless Beauty Rocky Horror.

They are interrupted by biker/ex-delivery boy Eddie,[10] Columbia's lover, who Frank-N-Furter had kept in the deep-freeze. Brad and Janet are then shown to separate rooms, and Frank-N-Furter deceives the two into sleeping with him via both Paper-Thin Disguise and the fact they're both horny enough. Both victims are horrified afterwards, and Janet wanders the castle till she finds Rocky (cowering from Riff Raff, who's been tormenting him). Realizing she's been cheated on by Brad, she takes an interest in the monster...

At this point, Dr. Scott appears looking for his nephew Eddie, and Janet and Rocky are found together. Frank-N-Furter invites them all to dinner...

There is a (spiritual) sequel, Shock Treatment (1981), focusing on the bizarre turns Brad and Janet's lives take upon their return to Denton after their adventure in Rocky Horror, but it was not as popularly received as its predecessor and is thus both obscure and hard to find. The fact that the makers weren't happy with how it turned out, due to many compromises made during its production, such as character re-castings and a drastically cut budget, doesn't help. (It's also harder to stage as an Audience Participation show due to a bigger cast of characters.) Although it was just recently released on DVD.

In 2008, a remake was planned by MTV. Richard O'Brien was not involved and not happy, and perhaps fortunately for everyone involved the project was cancelled. In 2016, though, spurred by the success of their broadcast of a live production of Grease, FOX greenlit a new remake, which was eventually broadcast on on 18 October 2016. As a nod to the original the cast included Tim Curry as the Criminologist.


The Rocky Horror Picture Show is the Trope Namer for:
Tropes used in The Rocky Horror Picture Show include:
  • Accidental Pervert: Columbia is supposed to come across this way.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Some music was cut from the original show, including a whole song for Brad and a verse or two from other songs. Also, the original character of Rocky had some actual dialogue and personality, and seemed to be at least somewhat aware that he was created to be a living sex toy.
  • Adorkable: Brad.
  • An Aesop: Deliberately left ambiguous as whether or not their new-found sluttiness left them worse or better off.
  • Affectionate Parody: Twice over: the film itself spoofs horror/sci-fi, and the audience participation grew from the initial fans being familiar enough with it—especially all the dramatic pauses—that they saw opportunities for verbal callbacks to tease the characters.
  • All Take and No Give: Frank's very selfish as Columbia so blatantly points out.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Damn it, Janet!
  • Anything That Moves: Frank-N-Furter.
  • Artificial Human: Rocky.
  • Aside Glance: Often, and always intentional.
    • When Frank says "How nice!" in the lab.
    • And during "Sweet Transvestite," Frank raises an eyebrow at the camera as he says "So you got caught with a flat/ How 'bout that?"
  • Attention Whore: Frank. To the point where even accidentally stealing his spotlight causes him to go into a jealous rage (Poor Eddie).
  • Audience Participation: The gold standard. The audience at a showing of Rocky Horror will have some sort of response (mostly yelled comments, sometimes actions to match) to virtually every line or action in the film; at this point the cult phenomenon of Rocky Horror is far more about the audience participation than the film itself. Most theaters will give you a bag of items to be used during the movie (most getting thrown).
    • Inverted audience participation. Where the cast will make callbacks to the audience's callbacks.
      • When they tried to stage the musical in the US, of course the audience yelled the callbacks. Apparently, in the first performance, they were studiously ignored until Frank-N-Furter got to "antici..." "SAY IT!" The actor then snapped back with "bait me, why don't you?", and promptly continued on with the song.
    • Furthermore, new callbacks are invented all the time. A Halloween 2010 viewing added "Ten points from Gryffindor!" after Frank admonished Rocky that "That's no way to behave after your first day out!"
      • Likewise, after Fight Club, a popular call back following the revelation of Eddie's corpse has been, "HIS NAME WAS ROBERT PAULSON! HIS NAME WAS ROBERT PAULSON!"
      • Many older callbacks get updated references but otherwise remain the same. For example, 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. (For Halloween 2011, it was "SHOW US STEVE JOBS!")
    • For this reason, it's a good idea to watch the movie once by yourself before you go to a midnight screening—because at the midnight screening, you may not be able to hear any of it. The (extremely loud) audience commentary is not funny unless you've had the opportunity to actually hear the dialogue and music at some point.
    • On the other hand, in a venue where the film has been running for long enough to develop a crowd of regulars as well as a live cast of reenactors, the discipline of the audience can be astonishing. It truly does seem like an interactive experience.
  • Ax Crazy: Frank.
  • Bad Boss: Frank is sometimes shown yelling hysterically at his servants when they make mistakes (especially towards Riff Raff - he even whips him when he finds out he let Rocky escape).
  • Bed Trick
  • Berserk Button: Though slightly more subtle than most other examples, it is a very, very, VERY bad idea to make Frank jealous. Just seeing Rocky with Janet was enough to drive Frank into a blind fury and chase Janet around the castle.
  • Big Entrance: Dr. Frank-N-Furter's first appearance, during "Sweet Transvestite".
  • Black Comedy Rape
  • BLAM Movie
  • Blank Slate: Rocky.
  • Bowdlerise: FUSE Network (the so-called "Extreme Network") edits out almost all instances of male-on-male innuendo. The Glee version also had some edits (even justified In-Universe, because Mr. Schuester had to make it appropriate for a high school play).
  • Brainless Beauty: Rocky's only got half of a brain.
  • Break the Cutie: Janet and Columbia both fit this trope. Brad may as well.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Riff Raff and Magenta give a strong impression of this.

Elbow sex!

  • BSOD Song: Frank gets "I'm Going Home". Most of the floor show also seems to count.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: Considering that "Cheshire Cat" is one of Tim Curry's nicknames, take a wild guess who uses this.
  • Clingy Jealous Boy: Frank-N-Furter. Sure, he flirts with nearly everyone. But, if he sees anyone with his beloved Rocky, he unleashes his jealousy-induced rage upon them. Janet Weiss had to find this out the hard way.
  • Closed Circle: Heroes driving, flat tire, flat spare tire, rain coming down, thundering, spooky castle, Mad Scientist, critical phase of scientific breakthrough, heroes can't get away and then don't want to get away and then can't get away again, and everything goes horribly wrong. Yup, textbook case . . . naturally, since it's a parody of exactly those kind of stories.
  • Cloudcuckooland: The castle.
  • Commedia Dell'Arte: Although it's not a direct example of this genre, it uses stock Commedia dell'Arte characters.[context?]
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Janet [11]
  • Covert Pervert: All of Columbia's nipple-slips were done intentionally by Nell Campbell.
  • Creating Life: Duh.
  • Creepy Monotone: Riff Raff, especially in Time Warp. And Magenta, at times.
  • Cut Song: "Once in a While," featured in the stageshow. For the film the song was to have been sung by Brad after his... erm... encounter with Frank. Footage was shot for it but left out of the film; a "reconstruction" using the footage and other bits from the movie has appeared as an extra feature on every home release of the film since the 1995 LaserDisc edition.
    • To a lesser extent, the American print of the film had the exposition song "Super Heroes" all but cut out except for the final verse (the Criminologist's "And crawling..." speech). To an even lesser extent, verses were removed from "Over at the Frankenstein Place" and "The Sword of Damocles."
    • One could argue that "Charles Atlas Song" also counts. The music is the same, but the movie lyrics are COMPLETELY different from those in the stage show (and make WAY less sense). So...Surgically Altered Song?
  • Dance Sensation: "Let's do the Time Warp again!" It's interesting to note that Richard O'Brien has said that he wrote that song as a bit of a parody of a Dance Sensation.
  • Dark Reprise: Of Science Fiction Double Feature at the end.
  • Dead Man's Chest
  • Depraved Bisexual: Frank.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Out of context, Frank's song, "I'm Going Home" is a beautiful and melancholy song. In context? It's really fucking eerie.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Brad, hilariously, early in the film.

Brad: This is my fiancee.
(Frank looks at Brad.)
Brad: Janet Veiss.[12]
Janet: Weiss.
Brad: *clears throat.* Weiss.[13]

  • The Dog Bites Back: Magenta betrays Frank after realizing that he has no plans to go back to Transsexual anytime soon, while Riff Raff betrays him because he was jealous of Frank for taking all the credit for making Rocky, even though he did most of the work.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing
  • Dumb Blonde: Rocky, thanks to only having half a brain.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: During "Dammit Janet", you can see Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Tim Curry, and Little Nell in the church.
    • Also, at the very start, most of the wedding guests are clearly recognizable as the Transylvanian party guests at the Frankenstein Place. Particularly obvious are Henry Woolf (who plays the official wedding photographer) and Christopher Biggins (clearly seen running at the front of the pack seeing off Ralph and Betty's car).
  • The Eleven O'Clock Number: Frank sings about how well-meaning and misunderstood he is.
  • Escape From the Crazy Place: Good luck with that plan, Brad and Janet.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: This is ostensibly the reason Riff Raff and Magenta turn on Frank -- "Your mission is a failure/Your lifestyle's too extreme..."
  • Even the Guys Want Him Frank and Rocky.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Except for Riff, Dr. Scott, and the Criminologist, every major character has at least one heterosexual and one homosexual encounter in the film or in the Backstory, though in some cases this is indicated only briefly.
    • And Riff-Raff becomes furious when he remarks that Rocky didn't like him, although he seems fairly calm during the rest of the scene. One could reasonably infer that he had feelings for Rocky.
  • Failure Hero: Brad and Janet. If the opening credits hadn't told you they were "a hero" and "a heroine," you'd never guess.
  • Fan Girl: Columbia, for Frank, then for Eddie then for Frank again...I think.
    • "EDDIE!!!"
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Janet bandages Rocky's wounds with strips from her own slip. Afterward, they do more than just kiss.
  • Gainax Ending: It's an understatement to say the film is weird from the start, but around the Floor Show things go straight to Eleven.
  • Genre Savvy: Within moments of being brought to life, Rocky is already singing about how he suspects his story will end. He's right.
  • Glove Snap
  • Hair of Gold: Rocky.
  • The Hedonist: Guess who! Brad and Janet, after their sexcapades with Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
  • Herr Doctor: Dr. Scott.
    • "Go on, Dr. Scott. Or, should I say, Dr. Von Scott!"
    • Interestingly enough, Dr. Frank-N-Furter himself originally had a German accent in the early days of the stage show. For reasons unknown, the idea was quickly dropped.
  • Historical In-Joke: Almost immediately after Goebbels surrendered to the Russian Army, the US and Soviet governments began smuggling Nazi scientists out of the country. Werner von Braun is one of the most famous examples. In exchange for a pardon, they would work for them now. It was called Operation Paperclip. This is why Frank calls Dr. Scott out on his accent.
  • Human Aliens: Frank, Magenta, Riff Raff, and all the other Transylvanians look like human beings.
  • "I Am" Song / "I Want" Song: Sweet Transvestite can count for both. Frank's describing himself as a sweet transvestite, yet he's also asking (or demanding because he never gave them the option) Brad and Janet to "stay for the night."
  • I Can Explain: Frank says this right before singing his final song. Too bad Riff Raff and Magenta aren't convinced of his story. They shoot him anyway.
    • And "I'm Going Home" doesn't explain a damn thing.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: FRAAAANK-FURT-EEEEER!. A rare use of this line by a man who is clearly not in any position to be making threats.
  • The Igor: Riff Raff.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Meat Loaf again?
    • "HE'S STILL GOOD!"
    • His name is Robert Paulson!
    • You can't refreeze meatloaf, it just goes bad.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: The majority of the callbacks.
  • Intermission
  • "It's Not Rape If You Enjoyed It": Frank, sleeping with Brad and Janet.
  • Large Ham: Several, with a lot of Curry.
    • "EDDIE!!!"
    • There's also Long Pig, but that's another story...
  • A Light in the Distance: "There's a light....over at the Frankenstein place."
  • Long Runner: It entered the midnight circuit in 1976 and hasn't looked back since.
  • Love Triangle: It's implied that one of these may have happened involving Frank, Eddie and Columbia.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: The Sword of Damocles and Eddie's Teddy are pretty upbeat.
  • Mad Love: Columbia is hopelessly devoted to Frank despite the fact that he considers her to be nothing more than his "groupie".
    • Of course, this is later Subverted Trope when Columbia (after witnessing Frank brutally murder Eddie, another man she loved deeply) realizes that Frank doesn't love her back at all and berates him for being such a heartless jerk.
    • "You're like a sponge! All ya do is take take take!"
    • But she's back supporting him a scene later.
      • Well, she didn't really have a choice.
  • Mad Scientist
  • Manipulative Bastard: Frank's very good at convincing people to sleep with him...
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Janet and Rocky upon Frank-N-Furter's discovering them. Justified Trope in that they were surrounded by people at the time.
  • The Musical
  • Music, Dance Instructions Included: The Time Warp.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: The "N" in Frank-N-Furter. "Frank" is his first name and "Furter" is his last name. "N" is his middle initial and it's never revealed what it stands for, or even if it stands for anything at all.
  • No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: Let's just say who's coming to dinner is more than expected.
  • Not So Different: Richard O'Brien has stated that Riff Raff and Frank are very similar to one another. In fact, the only real differences between the two is that Frank is more outgoing and flamboyant while Riff is more reserved and introverted. That...and Riff is less likely to seduce people. But, both are intelligent, scheming, easily jealous, and willing to kill others in blind rage.
  • Paid Harem
  • Pietà Plagiarism/Touch of the Monster: Rocky and Frank-N-Furter.
  • Pinball Protagonist: The only thing of note that the protagonists do is get laid and survive the evening.
  • Punny Name: Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
    • Particularly considering the pre-Time Warp appetizers...
    • Also, Janet Weiss's name is a Stealth Pun, since it's a German name, and, in German, it's pronounced much like the English "vice".
    • German for "white" no less, traditional virgin color, she's a virgin, also spends most of the movie wandering around in white underwear.
  • Puny Earthlings: Frank views himself as superior to the human protagonists.
  • Pygmalion Plot: Frank and Rocky.
  • Refuge in Audacity.
  • Rule 34: If you're surprised by this one, you really need to watch the movie.
  • Say My Name: "Janet!" "Dr. Scott!" "Janet!" "Brad!" "Rocky!" Three times. Audiences like to provide grunts for Rocky and scream "BULLWINKLE!" after.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome Fifties Girl: Janet, oh, poor Janet. Columbia may have been this before she met Frank and Eddie.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains
  • Shout-Out: To various Hammer Horror films as well as film companies and 1930s-50s sci-fi/horror efforts; in fact, the opening song "Science Fiction Double Feature" is built around this. The intro was supposed to contain film snippets of the relevant songs, but it would have cost a fortune in royalties. The 2016 Fox production staged this number in the lobby of a theatre, and used posters and stand-up displays for all the cited films.
  • Slasher Smile: Again, Frank. Been nice knowing ya, Eddie.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Dr. Frank-N-Furter is in this pose in the movie's poster.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Brad and Frank.
  • Sound-Only Death: We don't see what happens to Eddie... but we sure do hear his screams and Frank's pick-axe hacking him to pieces.
  • Stealth Pun: What's for dinner? Meat Loaf, again.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Columbia and possibly Rocky, although Rocky especially might instead be Too Dumb to Live. Even after Frank discards her for Eddy and then Rocky, kills her boyfriend and serves him for dinner, Columbia is still devoted to Frank. The final scenes reveal that Rocky cares deeply for Frank, even though (or maybe because) he chains him up in their 'bridal suite' and he has half of Eddy's brain.
  • Taken for Granite: The "Medusa" switch that's conveniently installed on Rocky's life-bringer machine thing. It also has a reversal switch, so.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Dr. Scott is implied to be one by Frank.

Frank: Go on, Dr. Scott. Or should I say... Doctor Von Scott!
Brad: What are you implying?[14]

Dr. Scott: This sonic transducer... it is, I suppose, some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?]
Brad: You mean...?![16]
Dr. Scott: Yes, Brad, it's something we ourselves have been working on for quite some time. But it seems our friend here has found a means of perfecting it.[17] A device which is capable of breaking down solid matter and projecting it[18] through space...[19] and who knows, perhaps even time[20] itself!