A Movie A Day: Quint sees Rocky Horror sequel SHOCK TREATMENT (1981) Does this bird belong to you?
Published at: July 2, 2008, 2:24 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
I had been warned off of SHOCK TREATMENT for years. There is a reason it has taken me this long to finally watch it, being a real big ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW fan. And I mean a fan of the movie, not of the midnight experience. I tried that once and I’m sure it’s different depending on who runs it, but I went in expecting a celebration of a movie I really dug and instead sat through an hour and a half of unfunny assclowns making fun of the movie.
It’s not like Rocky Horror doesn’t know what movie it is. It is in and of itself a bizarre throwback to vintage sci-fi. It’s cheesy and it’s funny, but all intentionally. That’d be like making fun of Airplane! or Top Secret! because it has ridiculous stuff in it.
Now with SHOCK TREATMENT I see why there would be that routine. It’s really a horrible movie, a misfire on every level. As a sequel to ROCKY HORROR it’s a pathetic attempt to recreate that lightning in a bottle, missing the charisma of Tim Curry and the earnestness of the original. As a satire of TV audience complacency it’s on the nose, its message not told with any real humor (see ROBOCOP for a real example of what they were attempting to do here).
And how the hell do you make Jessica Harper look unattractive?
And also, how do you make a Rocky Horror sequel that doesn’t acknowledge anything that happened in the first movie? Sure, we have Nell Campbell (hotter than ever), Patricia Quinn, Richard O’Brien and Charles Gray returning, but none of them play previous characters. The only returning characters are Brad and Janet, played by Cliff de Young and Jessica Harper this time out. I mean, when you can’t even get Barry Bostwick back you know you’re in trouble.
In fact, looking up a bunch of trivia on the making of the movie it seems as if O’Brien and Jim Sharman should have taken everybody declining the movie as a sign. The production seems to have been a difficult one and I’ll give them a little credit for going ahead against an actor’s strike that forced a radical rewrite and in the face of Curry turning it down, but damn… the end result is hard to sit through.
The songs aren’t memorable, the quirkiness has no context. It’s just there to be weird. At least the characters in Rocky Horror had an iconography to them and felt comfortable in their world.
The real travesty is that apparently the original idea for a sequel was shot down when Tim Curry wouldn’t return as Frank-N-Furter. But have a listen to this. The original idea for the sequel involved Frank being resurrected by Dr. Scott and Brad, now lovers and we were to follow Frank to Denton as he tracks down Janet who is pregnant with his child. In the process, Frank-N-Furter would have attempted to convert Denton’s citizens into new Transylvanians. Riff-Raff and Magenta were to return in order to destroy Frank-N-Furter for good and take his child.
How sweet does that sound? Why couldn’t we have gotten that instead of this still-born attempt at trying to recreate the cult that the original Rocky Horror spawned?
I wonder if this was ever developed into a script? If anyone knows, drop me a line and let me know. I’d love to get my hands on it.
It was really hard to make it all the way through SHOCK TREATMENT. I don’t recommend giving it a turn if it’s on your list.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Wednesday, July 2nd: FLASHBACK (1990)
Thursday, July 3rd: KLUTE (1971)
Friday, July 4th: ON GOLDEN POND (1982)
Saturday, July 5th: THE COWBOYS (1972)
Sunday, July 6th: THE ALAMO (1960)
Monday, July 7th: SANDS OF IWO JIMA (1950)
Tuesday, July 8th: WAKE OF THE RED WITCH (1949)
Tomorrow we follow Cliff de Young over to 1990’s FLASHBACK starring Keifer Sutherland and Dennis Hopper. I hope he’s better in that than he was here…