A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a 1975 cult classic movie in which two square sweethearts spend the night in the castle of a transvestite scientist. This movie is based upon complex adult themes of sexuality and personal freedoms/lifestyles. Dr. Frank N. Furter is played up as an outlandish, sexually-open character. There is a very suggestive scene of Frank N. Furter seducing the couple and another sex scene between Janet and the beefcake Rocky. While there is no direct nudity, the film is very provocative, right down to the song lyrics. Expect frequent sexual innuendo, implying erections, sexual desire, and group sex. "Dammit" and "goddammit" are heard. Violence includes a dead body in a glass table, characters killed by lasers, and the implication that a man was killed with a pickax. Comedic pratfall violence includes a male character kicked in the crotch and a female character playfully whipped. Mature teens with an understanding of sexuality and individuality are the best audience.
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What's the story?
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW opens with a conservative young couple (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon) experiencing a flat tire on a rainy night. They find shelter in the menacing-looking castle of Dr. Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), a cross-dressing mad scientist. The film follows Brad and Janet's descent into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter and his minions. He is building the perfect love god -- a muscle-bound blond named Rocky. As Brad and Janet rediscover their own sexualities and Rocky desperately wants to discover his own, the film grows more surreal, ending in the massive revelation that Dr. Frank N. Furter's glammed-out, androgynous self is more than just different, it's out of this world. Hunchback Riffraff deems the Doctor's lifestyle "too extreme" and subtly takes over in a very obvious reference to the powers of conformity, quashing the wildly different when it gets in the way of the greater plan.
Is it any good?
The definition of kitsch, Rocky Horror is a campy, musical spoof on the haunted-castle horror movie, encompassing a '70s glam-rock world of androgyny with characters that are more than offbeat. Adults have been gathering at ritualistic midnight viewings of Rocky Horror across the country since its 1975 debut, contributing to it being a cult classic.
The movie has a built-in audience: lovers of glam rock and the world it sings along to. For this audience, it's like watching their favorite 1970s glam rock concert come to life. Rocky Horror is one of the best, if not the best-executed, examples of a film that celebrates the odd, the rejected, the rock-'n'-roll misfits who live by the beat of their own wayward drum. It's just not for kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Rocky Horror Picture Show's themes of personal and sexual individuality and the concept of "fitting in." Beyond the campy elements, what lessons are presented here?
Starting in New York City, this movie grew into one of the best-known "cult classics" of all time, in which moviegoers dress like the characters, dance to the musical numbers, and shout well-timed sarcastic remarks at the screen. What do you think is the seemingly timeless appeal of a movie that appears to be little more than a campy B-movie? What are some other examples of cult classics?
When the movie was released in 1975, many of the themes and content were considered taboo subjects. How is this movie a product of that time, and how does it hold up today?