Kicking off the new blog with an 1980’s musical that was the follow up effort to Richard O’Brien’s hugely successful The Rocky Horror Picture Show from 1975. Rocky Horror essentially encapsulates the term ‘cult’ and has, since release, turned into a phenomenon, that see’s thousands of fans flooding to late night screenings, sing-a-longs, live stage productions and conventions all over the world.
It’s not a direct sequel to Rocky Horror per-say but has the same writers and director (Richard O’Brien and Jim Sharman), features many of the same cast (Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Charles Grey, Nell Campbell) and is centred around the characters Brad and Janet and their ‘traumatising’ post-Rocky Horror experience. Also, in the vein of Rocky Horror the original songs and soundtrack are written by O’Brien and performed by the cast.
It’s rather bizarre that after the success of Rocky Horror, Shock Treatment completely tanked. Even now, some of the most seasoned Rocky Horror fans have never even heard of it. Granted, the majority of songs are inferior by compassion, the production quality is poor, the narrative is all over the place, and there’s nothing in the way of star power within the cast to attract much attention. However, to still be this obscure when compared to the original is baffling.
Even films like Grease 2 have entered into common parlance over the years, but Shock Treatment is still relatively difficult to get hold of. My VHS collection has significantly thinned out over the years, but Shock Treatment is one of my most cherished tapes. At the time I had to visit a specialist film dealer to get hold of it. Even when replacing it I had to scour the internet and purchase it as a double disc release with the infamous sister film.
I love this film. It was destined to fail. With limited release it was a critical and commercial flop and didn’t resonate with the target audience. Admittedly it is incomprehensible in parts due to a troubled production, but for me that adds to it’s charm. There is enough in there to really enjoy. Bizarre cameos from Ruby Wax, Rik Mayall and Barry Humphries, memorable musical numbers, outrageous costumes and production design and a very interesting and intelligent satire of the television and film industry.
Do seek out this underdog of a motion picture. It’s a very easy and pleasant watch. Don’t get too bogged down in it’s problems and try not to compare it with Rocky Horror. Just settle in, absorb the black humour and songs and accept it for what it is. A very low budget musical / comedy starring a bunch of weirdos.