The Rocky Horror Remake: Some Thoughts

Well, that whole schedule change thing didn’t last very long, did it? Um…okay…you got me. But it’s my blog, and I can break it if I want. Also, surely you didn’t think I couldn’t NOT say something about The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again??

The beautiful people.
The beautiful people. (© Fox Broadcasting, 2016)

By the look on your face I can tell you’re confused. I can allay your confusion with the following sentences. I’m a huge fan of The Rocky Horror (Picture) Show.  I’ve seen the movie, participated in it at midnight screenings, and seen the stage version. I own a copy of the movie and its script, and I know the songs by heart. It’s one of my all-time favorite musicals.

That pretty much clears things up, no? Moving on then.

Also, spoilers! And incoherence, probably.

I was undoubtedly skeptical when I first heard of the remake. I mean, the original is just so perfect in its imperfectness. It’s both majestic and sleazy, sexy and gross, weathered and pristine. And, in a very real sense, it’s a musical of its time – the mid-1970s, when the sexual revolution was furiously spinning in nightclubs and the freaks were coming out, literally and figuratively, at night. Innocence was still pretty innocent, and if your car broke down in the middle of nowhere, random people in random houses were your only hope.  How could all that possibly be re-translated into a day and age where the world is ultra-connected, completely aware and self-aware, and, seemingly, sexually unafraid?

Well, Fox’s answer was to slap some glitter on some shit and call it a day! Alright, I jest…but seriously, the remake was damn glamorous. Every. Single. Person. Was. Pretty As. Hell. Talk about a C(ast) ILF! (You figure it out.) Right down to the craterous and broken Riff Raff who nearly looked the most Hot Topic-iest of them all. I’ll admit that it took me about half the show to be okay with all the high cheekbones and tight curves, but I eventually got it, especially by the time they got to the floor show and “Don’t Dream it. Be it.” (My favorite part of the original.) Just…wow.

Once I stopped comparing the remake to the original in my mind, I was okay with it. Was it perfect? Visually, yes, it was too perfect, but overall, it was good. It was enjoyable. I didn’t feel like I had wasted two hours, and I wouldn’t mind owning it on video, y’know, for posterity. Of course nothing could ever hold a candle to the original, but I don’t mind that someone tried.

After watching the movie, I couldn’t help but scour the web for reviews. Most of them echoed my sentiments (good but not great), and of course there were a handful of debbie-downers.  As I was going through them, I made some mental notes about where general sentiments matched and departed from my own. Here are a few highlights:

Everyone in the cast can sing…except for Laverne Cox.
Um…she can’t sing like Tim Curry (no one can), but she can sing. I’m not sure what everyone else heard, but it sure as hell sounded like singing to me.

Laverne Cox isn’t a transvestite. By casting her, the point of the movie is missed.
This one I kind of agree with. But though her rendition of “Sweet Tranvestite” was a little odd to hear, she still sold it. And if we want to get nit picky, “transvestite” is an outmoded term anyway. I’m okay with the fact that were in and moving into a time where people are less defined by what may or may not be between their legs.

Adam Lambert was GREAT as Eddie! Adam Lambert was TERRIBLE as Eddie!
One of these two conflicting points was mentioned in every article I read. I didn’t have any problem with Lambert’s performance. I was more disturbed by the fact that they took away Eddie’s head scar and kind of shied away from him as the “subject” of dinner near the end.

Speaking of which…

The whole thing was too sanitized.
This goes back to the “whole thing was too pretty” notion, too. The original movie is rated R, though it’s closer to PG-13 with some R-rated seasoning. The remake was a decently decent PG-13. I knew they’d have to change one particular song lyric, but I also thought they might change some of the overtly sexual lyrics as well. (i.e. “Your apple pie don’t taste so nice,” among plenty of others.)  And they didn’t, so good on them. They did kind of play down pansexual nature of Dr. Frank-n-Furter’s lair, and that’s a discredit. When sexual awakening was so much a theme of the original, that didn’t read as strongly in the remake, and neither did Brad and Janet’s general innocence. The wink-winks and sleaze factor weren’t very prevalent. Too bad, that.

“Touch-A, Touch-A, Touch Me” was so adorable!
Um…did we watch the same thing? Because in the remake, Janet and Rocky, who are pretty much supposed to be getting down and dirty during the song, were literally jumping around the screen like a circus act. At one point I said to the TV “why are they moving so much?” I guess it was fun, but it was also pretty stupid looking.

Why wasn’t Rocky in a speedo?
Kind of a big deal in the original, so I don’t know why they opted for gold basketball shorts.  They did stick him in some short-shorts at the end, so I guess that made up for it?

Annaleigh Ashford was the perfect Columbia!
I liked her well enough, but found her too disaffected from the get-go. Of all the characters, she’s supposed to be crazy and silly and wild to start. This Columbia was too “meh,” even when she’s supposed to tear Frank a new one as a spurned lover. I also wasn’t down with the blue tongue. What was that, even?

The costumes were too shiny!
Yeah, I hate to agree, but I do. They sure did go all-out with the gold lame and spiderweb tights. But at least they were consistent. It wasn’t like Frank looked a wreck while everyone else looked straight out of European Vogue. Really, this was like “Rocky Horror: The Broadway Musical,” with an actual production budget and everything. The costumes were one place where they really decided to depart from the original. Not sure it was the best choice, but nothing can be done about it now.

Awww…Tim Curry!
Yep, he’s awesome. Always will be.

Okay, that went on for much longer than I anticipated. Then again, I could probably write oodles about Rocky Horror without even thinking about it. So I’ll wrap this up with a final thought. I did see one article that alluded to this being Rocky Horror for the current generation.  …maybe…?  There is something to be said for discovering Rocky Horror for the first time. And if this was it for some people, then it’s not the worst introduction. The remake was upbeat, trendy, cute, sensual, corny, and even a little uncomfortable, I’ll admit. Is that was “this generation” wants?  Question mark?

What, you think I know? Hell, I’m just a senior citizen time-warping in fishnets.


  1. I liked the original Rocky Horror when I finally watched it a few years ago. It was strange, campy, sensual, and gross. Pretty much what you would expect from that movie. I definitely loved the music, Tim Curry, and was pleasantly surprised that Susan Sarandon was in the movie. But when the remake was announced, I just wasn’t interested in seeing it. It’s the same reason why I didn’t bother with the remake for Grease. Maybe I might watch both when the mood strikes me, but honestly, I rather stick with the originals. They may have their faults, but they’re still better in my book! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I also skipped the live Grease remake. I heard really good things about it afterwards, so maybe I’ll give it a go someday. But like you say, it’s just hard to top the original! The same is really true with Rocky Horror, though I do recommend the remake. Laverne Cox is really outstanding, and the kid playing Brad is just about the most adorable person I’ve seen on screen in a long time. The original movie will always be tops (isn’t Susan Sarandon just too cute?), but it’s obvious that the cast of this new movie had a good time.

      Liked by 1 person

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