Richard O'Brien Alexander Stuart - Essay

Alexander Stuart

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Far from looking like the film of a show, The Rocky Horror Picture Show could well have been created specifically for the screen—an illusion no doubt strengthened by the fact that the picture is a parody of the cinema itself, in much the same vein as Mel Brooks's Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein….

[It's made clear that the parody is aimed at the scifi/horror/monster movies of the '50s and the original classics (such as Frankenstein and King Kong) which were their inspiration. The fact that Frank N Furter is a 'Sweet Transvestite from Transexual Transylvania' and that he's been 'making a man with blond hair and a tan' means that a few pokes can be taken—or, at least, could be taken when the show first opened—at the 'decadent' or, perhaps more accurately, 'glitter rock' phase the pop scene went through a couple of years back.

Some of the most entertaining moments of the film, however, are provided by the sending up of an area of the cinema totally unconnected with the mad scientists and freaks from outer space, an area as British as the monster movies were American: the Edgar Lustgarten thrillers, a deadly species of 'supporting pictures' thrust upon an unsuspecting public during the late '50s and early '60s….

[If] anything could ever exorcise the ghost of the mythical Teen Angel the Sandra Dees of the '50s created, Rocky Horror would be it: having tasted of the forbidden fruit but once, and weary of her prolonged purity, Janet really gets her rocks off in what is perhaps the brightest, bounciest, most obviously 'hit' number of the film—'Toucha, toucha, toucha, touch me / I wanna be dirty / Thrill me, fill me, fulfil me / Creature of the night.'

Alexander Stuart, "'The Rocky Horror Picture Show': Alexander Stuart Warps Hand-in-Hand with Strange People in the Camp of Decay …" (© copyright Alexander Stuart 1975; reprinted with permission), in Films and Filming, Vol. 21, No. 12, September, 1975, p. 31.