Do the Timewarp Again: Fox Revitalizes a Classic

The Rocky Horror Picture Show, a film originally bombed and banned in a number of places, will be coming to Fox this fall. That’s right, Fox. 

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Putting aside how odd this project is for the conservative channel, Fox is remaking the Cult Classic for broadcast TV. The roles have all been recast, with some actors including Penny Dreadful‘s Reeve Carney and Emmy-nominated Laverne Cox. Even Tim Curry, who originally wore the iconic fishnet stockings, is on board. 

Why remake the Rocky Horror? It’s a question we ask whenever Hollywood falls back on its old franchises for “new” content. It’s particularly interesting here, because unlike many movies getting reboots, Rocky Horror has never really dropped off the radar after its ascension into cult status. The film is still frequently screened and the stage show is resurrected regularly. Personally, I do not have an issue with reboots or remakes. Whether that’s the haze of nostalgia or actual film quality, I accept that most will never live up to the original. Nevertheless, I welcome new content. I only ask that creators bring something new to the mix. Not just banking on some fond memories, but rather add value like a new point of view or method of execution.

Some of the cast and the films producers, Lou Adler, Gail Berman, and Kenny Ortega, were present Thursday night at the San Diego Comic Con to preview the first 25 minutes of the film. All of them were very passionate about their version of the Film. Adler, who also worked on the original, was particularly excited to bring it to new audiences. After watching the first 25 minutes and hearing from the cast and creators, I can say I’m excited and fans of Rocky Horror should be too.

One of the things that worried me about the new Rocky Horror Picture Show when I saw the teaser trailer a few weeks ago was how flat it seemed. This version appeared to be an exact replication of the original, not a reboot or re-imagining. Granted, with a better budget, but it seemed like an empty copy. Why remake it at all? One very good answer from one of the films producers is accessibility.  While we have come a long way in civil rights for non hetronormative groups, there is still a lot of work to be done. In many ways, Rocky Horror is still fringe content. That fringe is going to be broadcast into homes across the country during primetime. This is an opportunity for new fans to be born. Fans that perhaps never understood why you’d spend your Halloween watching an old movie, or fans who have never had the access to those screenings.

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Laverne Cox Kills it as Frank-N-Furter

The new casting is also significant. The team has cast a diverse group of actors, including a trans actress in the lead role.  Less significant but also of value to this version, is that it does not suffer from the budget limitations of the original. All new detailed sets, costumes, and effects put a shine on the classic. This includes recording  (and remixing in some cases) the films soundtrack. The last interesting addition is inclusion of the film’s cult following. This is not a reboot, but it does manage to pay homage to the film’s passionate fan base during the faithful reproduction. It mimics the stage show more than film, complete with a participatory meta audience. It is nice to see the creators acknowledging the history of the content, rather than dismissing it.

From the opening number, the film offers fans that signature camp and tongue-in-cheek humor of the original. The music sounds fantastic and is accompanied with excellent choreography. The cast also do a good job. The star (of course) is Laverne Cox who, more than anyone else, exemplifies the iconic character she plays. Honestly, she gives Tim Curry’s Frank-N-Furter a run for his money. Adjustments have been made, and some are more successful than others. I was a bit nervous when the Time Warp began without the classic electric guitar slow-build, but it paid off by the chorus.  Other changes like Frank-N-Furter’s entrance lose a little of their impact; The descent of that elevator, high heels, the reveal. Absolutely perfect in the original and difficult to top, quite frankly.

Overall, it’s quite good. It stays true to the original content, but offers longtime fans some added payoffs.  It’s not the original, no but there is  plenty to be excited about. Overall the movie looks and sounds great. Fans can be excited and rest easy in the knowledge that this film delivers the Rocky Horror experience. You can judge for your self this fall when it airs on Fox on October 20th.

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Images & Video © Fox

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