Staid middle-class couple Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) wind up, one stormy night, at the gothic mansion of the cross-dressing Dr. Frank N. Further (Tim Curry). Many songs and sexual awakenings ensue. Seriously, people, if you are reading this and require a summary of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, then the movie is probably not for you. Shock Treatment, however, is less well-known. Once again we have Brad and Janet (this time played by Cliff De Young and J…ssica Harper), living in the TV-controlled town of Denton. Resistance to the televised brainwashing is met with the treatment of the title.
Of RHPS, Kim Newman wrote, “If the film were any better, the audience participation would be annoying; if it were any worse, there’d be nothing to play with.” True. The film on its own doesn’t really stand up – the deliberate camp of the performances grows wearisome, the film’s jokes are easy, and is sexual subversion is pretty cosmetic. Watching it at home, alone, is a pretty sad experience. Unlike the similarly cultish Phantom of the Paradise, it cannot succeed as a film on its own merits. But it is still more fun than Shock Treatment, which tries too hard to recapture lightning in a bottle, though the presence of Jessica Harper is certainly a plus. The songs of both films are fun, though even here a certain sameness begins to set in.
Both films come with 5.1 scores. RHPS is in mono as well, while its “sequel” has a 2.0 option. The songs benefit the most from the 5.1 tracks, and sound very nice, their enveloping mix helping in no small way to make up for the fact that there isn’t a full theatre of people around the viewer. Shock Treatment’s music is a bit front heavy, and the surround FX of both films aren’t as natural as they could be, but taking into consideration the age of the films, the result isn’t bad at all.
Of the two, RHPS looks the best. There’s some graininess that comes and goes, but overall, the image is sharp, the coloursa re strong, and the blacks are solid. The edge enhancement here is minor, but is decidedly more noticeable in Shock Treatment, whose picture is also softer. It still looks fine, but isn’t quite on the same level.
First, a caveat. If you already own the 25th anniversary edition of RHPS, and don’t care about Shock Treatment, then know that this is the same set you already own. No remastering, no new features. Heck, even the old ad for Fox DVD is still there, dating the discs somewhat. That said, the list of features is extensive. Creator/co-star Richard O’Brien and co-star Patricia Quinn have fun with their commentary without failing to be informative. Disc 1 also has features to make up for the fact that this not a film ever made for home viewing: turn on all the supplemental features, and you will get subtitles prompting you when to participate, you’ll hear the audience reaction, and you’ll get cutaways to the fans doing their thing. There are also plenty of DVD-ROM features, including a trivia quiz. One further note: two versions of the film are present here. The UK one has a deleted song re-inserted.
Disc 2 is similarly packed with goodies. On top of the expected retrospective documentary, there are two deleted songs (one of which is back in the UK version), outtakes, a whack of cast interviews from VH1 and a pop-up video from that station (for “Hot Pattootie”), an alternate credit ending, a photo gallery, a misprint ending, theatrical trailers, and a singalong feature for “Toucha Toucha Touch Me” and “Sweet Transvestite.”
Shock Treatment’s extras are less generous. There’s a commentary track by Mad Man Mike and Bill Brennan, presidents of the film’s fan club. That’s fine, but hardly in the same league as having the creators speak for themselves (and the comparison made between this film and Citizen Kane’s opening shots are inaccurate and forced). The documentary is decent enough, and there’s another featurette about the score. That’s it, apart from the theatrical and international trailers.
All in all, a pretty sumptuous package, though there’s nothing new here if you’re strictly a RHPS fan.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes
- Audience Participation Audio-Visual Options
- DVD-ROM Features
- “Rocky on VH1” Excerpts
- Photo Gallery
- Alternate Credit Ending
- “Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show” Documentary
- “DTV Presents: A Shockumentary”
- Shock Feature Soundtrack Featurette
- Sing-A-Long Feature