Man, stuff like this beats ANY Christmas decoration…
Having a theater background, I am accustomed to seeing different productions of a show from different companies. For me, remakes of films also fall into this category, although I’m not suggesting that remakes are necessarily needed. When The Rocky Horror Picture Show was announced on Fox, I was incredibly nervous. This is not an ideal musical for a primetime network, and let’s be honest, no one could ever fill Tim Curry’s heels in the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter. I’ve spent over 30 years with the beloved original and have memorized every intonation, nuance and cadence. To my surprise, I found the new production to be fun, energetic, vividly candy-colored, and incredibly strange. If you’re going to remake a turd, might as well polish it up.
The biggest concern was the original’s lascivious nature, suggestive humor, weirdness, and unapologetic queerness. Moving this to a major network during primetime was inevitably going to tame down the production which is a shame given it’s subversive, anti-establishment roots. Thankfully, the lyrics remained mostly untouched. And, Lavern Cox while an inspired choice as the sweet transvestite from transexual Transylvania provided a substantial question mark in the gender politics debate.
I enjoyed the cast. Reeve Carney as Riff Raff was his usual delight. Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors was adorable and could SING! Victoria Justice as Janet was precious. And Annaleigh Ashford and Christina Milian as Columbia and Magenta were kooky wonderful. Staz Nair as Rocky stole every scene with his mugging and physical comedy – quite a feat considering he has such few lines and meant only to be screen candy. And I loved seeing our beloved Tim Curry, who suffered a major stroke in 2012, as the narrator.
There were some stumbles. Dr. Frank-N-Further’s first appearance should have been showstopping. Instead she was swung in on a crane wearing some weird head mask. The miscast Adam Lambert brought the house party to a shrieking halt. Also unnecessary was the audience partici…pation that broke the fourth wall. The movie within a movie conceit was a nod to fans of the original’s midnight showings where the audience calls back with fill-in lines and props. Adding this in for the TV version took you right out of the moment.
Ultimately, I realized that this remake is not for us old, haggard fans, but for a new generation who are seeing Rocky Horror for the first time. It should also be noted that for a major network to embrace something so strangely queer with a trans woman in the lead is quite the milestone. Nostalgia is wonderful but at times it can be a little toxic at not letting us move ahead with new things. Was this remake perfect? No. But it was fun, decadent, and light entertainment for the Halloween season and it gave me some terrible thrills.
Now is the time to get your playlists ready for that epic Halloween party next week! Here are some recent discoveries that I love:
Now That’s What I Call Spooky
These mixtapes from BoJo in Tennessee are just what you need: a great collection of songs from a variety of artists, each track sure to please someone. Best part is that you can download them for free! Find them at https://bojospookymixtapes.bandcamp.com/.
Halloween at High Noon: Decayed
The purveyors of original, sinister ambient music is High Noon Records and we all look forward to their Halloween collections. This it’s called Decayed and features some perfect background music some of it quite dance-y for your haunted house.
Alex Cuervo of Espectrostatic calls his music “horror movie music” and his latest collection definitely echoes the work of John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi with a deep punk/garage aesthetic. It is absorbing, and a must for Halloween fans.
Little Steven’s Underground Garage presents Halloween a Go-Go
One of the coolest collection comes from the uber talented Steven Van Zandt (a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band), feature an eclectic mix of rock music sure to please anyone over 30 (maybe 40).
Sam Haynes: Something Wicked
Sam Haynes creates terrifying soundtracks for your horror-filled Halloween. His latest creation is a classic repertoire of classic, spooky music perfectly suited for a haunt. His penchant for 80s influenced electronica has been toned down for this collection opting for a more timeless feel. An he’s an artist that always gives back to community, allowing his music to be featured on a videos, podcasts, and anywhere that needs a chilling score – for free! Learn more at the Sam Haynes Bandcamp page.
If you can’t decide what to listen to, try HalloweenRadio.net. The endless online stream of Halloween music features everything: monster mashed classics, exorcism themes, new music and even sound effects. It’s Halloween gold. They are supported by donations (so donate if you listen).