Video Picks Archive
Reviews by Matt Heffernan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This week my picks are Frequency (2000 - ) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975 - ).
The first film this week was a surprise hit this summer, capitalizing on its
straightforward family theme on top of a high-concept time-travel plot.
James Caviezel plays a lonely man who finds his father's old ham radio.
While trying to use it during an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), he
starts talking to his now-dead father (Dennis Quaid), who was using the same radio thirty
years ago during another Aurora Borealis. Caviezel then gets his father to
not only prevent his own death, but also stop a serial killer. Frequency
successfully takes this complicated and fanciful scenario and turns it into
an enjoyable film with plenty of action and not too much sentimentality.
A ham radio is a pretty innovative instrument for time travel, but it doesn't beat the high camp of a sonic transducer. That's right, my lusty creatures of the night, the second film is none other than The Rocky Horror Picture Show. For all you "virgins", here's the premise: a young WASP couple, Brad and Janet (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) get a flat tire outside an old castle. Going inside to use the phone, they meet the hunchback handyman Riff Raff (Richard O'Brien), several odd characters, and their master, Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a mad transvestite scientist who is about to bring to life his creation: a blonde muscleman for relieving his... tension. Based on the popular stage musical The Rocky Horror Show, written entirely by O'Brien, the film goes right to the source of the play's satirical target: low-budget science fiction and horror films from the 1930s through the 1950s. This creation of the 1970s was a flop at first, but it has earned over $150 million from midnight shows every Saturday all over the country. What keeps bringing them back is the audience participation that has evolved over the years, inciting the audiences to talk back to the screen and sing along to the rocking musical numbers. The film does stand up on its own for home viewing, and as much as I love it, I can't honestly give such a deeply flawed film four stars. The reason that the participation works is that the film is full of deadly pauses that desperately need to be filled in. The high camp and gay themes are a bit much for some people, but many should be right along for the ride by the time Brad sings "You're a hot dog, / But you'd better not try to hurt her, / Frank Furter." After that, there's the incredible floorshow that works better than almost any "eleventh-hour" number in a musical film. For fans of the music, there is an incredible selection of albums available, including a new one to commemorate the film's 25th anniversary. I could go on, and even make a whole site devoted to this film and its legacy, but I'll have to stop right here.
For more information, visit the Internet Movie Database:
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
..and the many albums on Compact Disc:
Guide to Star Ratings
Capsule Reviews © 2000 Matt Heffernan