rocky horror body

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THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is terrible. Everyone knows this, and fans of the 1975 musical know it better than anyone. The plot makes no sense, it’s tacky, bizarre, and messy, but after years of cult status, ROCKY HORROR has transcended genre, quality, and taste to become a classic. People dedicate their lives to this trash movie. Ultimately, ROCKY HORROR is all about being a messy bitch that lives for drama. This made for TV update, subtitled LET’S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN, is a soulless, empty, glam punk attempt to recreate the singular sensation for a new generation — every sequin and leather collar perfectly in place, a ROCKY HORROR reverently, vacantly re-created by its biggest fans.

It’s clear that FOX decided, based on the success of GREASE: LIVE, that it was about time they revamp another beloved musical classic. Except… no one asked. But in a generation of remakes and sequels, does that really matter? No one asked for a MacGyver remake, but CBS provided in abundance. FOX knew what had to come next.

It was bad. Like really bad. For a budget 20 times larger than its predecessor’s, it felt poorly done — the audio syncing was miserable, the pacing was sloppy, and the creative choices were completely bizarre and next to unwatchable. You know you’re screwed when two 23-year-olds look at each other halfway through and acknowledge that the GLEE episode from 2010 was far better. The biggest problem stems from its creation: A made-for-network-television remake of ROCKY HORROR? That’s like airing GAME OF THRONES on ABC Family. You lose everything that defines it.

rocky-horror tim

Except Tim Curry

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THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW is a trainwreck — it’s a piece of shit disaster show that ends with make up streaming down your face, a lot of confusion, and an unexplainable joy. In TIME WARP, everyone was perfectly groomed and wore a strained Broadway smile throughout. It was HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL ROCKY HORROR. It literally was — Kenny Ortega directed it. No wonder it was ROCKY HORROR for the Stepford world. Ortega saw the original ROCKY HORROR and his first thought was, “I gotta make it edgy. Get me as many sequined leather jackets as you can get your hands on.” And thus, TIME WARP was born.

The only thing I enjoyed about TIME WARP was Ryan McCartan as Brad. I, too, was shocked to discover that Brad, a character referred to as “Asshole” by audiences, was hands down the highlight of two torturous hours. While Victoria Justice went for a weak, self-aware, tongue-in-cheek performance, McCartan was the personification of genuine campiness. With his over-the-top expressions and intense commitment, it felt like he was the only actor to attend a shadowcast performance.

rocky horror malfoy

Unlike low point Reeve Carney

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Apart from McCartan, highlights were brief: Tim Curry made his promised appearance as the Criminologist, and seeing him perform warmed the cockles of my disappointed little heart. This production cut down Rocky’s painfully long birth scene, a small note that only someone who’s seen the original over 100 times (me) would notice, but it was deeply appreciated. Also appreciated were the references to the midnight audiences — did I enjoy the film cutting to a bunch of UCB rejects shouting at the “screen”? No, but the gesture was nice. Last but certainly not least, Laverne Cox looked even more incredible than expected.

I suppose I also have to feel good about the fact that we’re still doing this. What excites me is that some teen in Arkansas is going to watch this and see that they’re not alone in questioning their sexuality and gender identity. They’re going to feel a little bit less alone in feeling like a weirdo. And then they’re going to watch the original ROCKY HORROR instead and never go back.

Verdict: Do Not Recommend

Aya Lehman acts as a guest contributor for Crossfader so she can talk about rom coms in a public forum. Her passions include reading the writers of CRIMINAL MINDS for filth, the politics of the color pink, and Steve from STRANGER THINGS.

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