RHPS 25th Anniversary DVD
Written by David Shetterly
NOTE: The original version of this review first appeared in the
RHPS fanzine Crazed Imaginations (Issue #62, October 2000).
Special thanks go to Ruth Fink-Winter of Crazed for finding it!
• Video: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
• Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• Subtitles: English, Spanish, English Closed Captions
• NTSC, Region 1
• Audio commentary track with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn
• Audio audience participation track
• Switching to audience participation segments via on-screen 'lips'
• Subtitle track with on-screen audience participation instructions
• 'Superheroes' alternate ending via seamless branching
• DVD-ROM features including trivia game, screen saver and more
• Alternate credit endings
• Deleted scenes 'Superheroes' and 'Once in a While'
• Alternate takes from 'Time Warp' 'Brad & Janet Getting Undressed', 'Janet's Seduction' and 'Floor Show'
• 'Sing-A-Long' karaoke videos for 'Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me' and 'Sweet Transvestite'
• Production stills
• 1995 documentary 'Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show'
• 'Hot Patootie' video from VH-1's 'Pop-Up Video', Unedited interviews from 'Behind the Music'
Film Synopsis (from DVD cover art):
"It was great when it all began..." Celebrate 25 years of midnight movie madness! The Rocky Horror Picture Show is an "erotic nightmare beyond any measure." Relive Richard O'Brien's sinfully twisted salute to horror, sci-fi, B-movies and rock music - A "sensual daydream to treasure forever" - starring Tim Curry (in his classic gender-bending performance), Barry Bostwick, and Oscar winner Susan Sarandon. Do the "Time Warp" and sing "Hot Patootie" with Meatloaf again... and again... and again... at home or in a movie theater, where it will probably be playing for another 25 years!
The DVDs come in a glossy cardboard slipcase with full-color artwork, featuring newly unearthed photos by photographer Mick Rock and quotes from the film. There is also full-color artwork on the discs themselves, mimicking the background art, and a full-color booklet with cool artwork and many wonderful photos. Inside the booklet, you'll find an Audience Participation Guide, cast bios, and a chapter list.
After the FBI warning and a Fox DVD promo, a menu pops up with the "Enter At Your Own Risk" sign, asking if you want the US or the UK Version (which includes "Superheroes"). A third selection just reads "I'm frightened." I chose "I'm frightened," and was whisked away... back to the FBI warning! After that I chose the UK Version, and was treated to a pair of talking lips (in a pretty good imitation of Tim Curry's voice). The lips move to the corner of the screen, and stay to talk as the main menu comes up.
The main menu, created by 1K Studios, is great. Songs from the film play in the background, and every so often, the legs in the bottom left corner of the screen walk, kick, and dance... I just watched the menu for a while because it was so neat.
For a nifty behind-the-scenes look at RHPS' menus, I recommend finding the February/March 2001 issue of Total Movie magazine, which comes with a DVD that includes a short "making-of" segment.
So how does the picture look? "It's astounding." The print used for the transfer is quite clean, and is amazing for a film of this age. Shadow and color detail are nearly flawless. There is the occasional speck of dust, and some jitter in a few scenes (most notably the Crim's "no picnic" monologue), but never anything that distracts. The picture is full of vibrant colors that jump out of the screen. In my opinion, it looks better than any previous release of RHPS, including Laserdisc. There is a slight bit of edge enhancement, but it is barely noticeable. Some scenes have a soft picture or a slightly-off black level, but those are due to the quality of the original film.
A side note: A problem I've noticed on every home video release of RHPS is that at the end of the film, the "Time Warp flashback" scenes just before "Superheroes" are mistakenly color-corrected from their intentional blue-tint.
The new THX-certified 1.66:1 widescreen transfer was down-converted from a high-definition source, and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The framing of the action on screen looks great. I did an A/B comparison of the framing with previous video and LaserDisc versions, and this version has a lot more picture information on either side of the screen. It's wonderful to be able to see more of the Criminologist's globe, more Transylvanians, etc.
Subtitles are available in English and Spanish, as well as a screen-specific Audience Participation subtitle track.
Average Video Bitrate:
In 1990, Fox commisioned a stereo version of the film soundtrack (done by Chace Productions, created with the soundtrack album downmix and original mono audio stems given to them) that was plagued with problems. This frustrated many fans (myself included). However, for the DVD, Fox has given Chace Productions the original 24-track music master and the original mono audio stems, to create a discrete 5.1 surround sound mix. 5.1 sound consists of three speakers in the front, two in the back, and a subwoofer (.1) channel for low bass sounds that shake the floor. The results are amazing. The music is wonderful. All the vocals are from the original mono version, coming out of the front center speaker, and all sound effects are intact. The instruments sound amazingly clear, and are spread nicely across the front soundstage.
I warn you though, this mix sounds different than any previous mix. Even the incidental and other music in the film has been remixed. Some arrangements might sound slightly lacking at times, but I think this is because the audio engineers wanted to stay true to the spirit of the original mono mix. Sometimes it's tough to hear certain dialog and sound effects, but it's not that they're missing: they're just quiet in comparison to the music. There is a reverb effect in the surround channels for the music, and the .1 channel is quite active during most of the music.
I can almost guarantee though, that some of you will not like the 5.1 mix. Well, mono purists rejoice! The original mono mix is also included on the disc. You can hear all the wonderful little nuances in the track.
For more info on Jim Young and Chace Productions' 5.1 and audio restoration work on RHPS, click here.
5.1 Surround: 448 kbps • 2.0 Mono: 192 kbps
First off is a commentary track with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn. It's pretty informative, but still has a lot of funny bits too...
Next up is the audience participation track from the 1995 Laserdisc, presented in 2-channel surround sound with the mono participation track mixed into the surround channels. Sometimes the dialog is unintelligible, but when you can hear it, it's damn funny.
Or you can select "The Theatrical Experience," which starts with an introduction at the Tower Theatre in Los Angeles with fan club president Sal Piro. When a pair of on-screen lips appears during the film, pressing Enter on your DVD remote takes you to clips of live cast performances. When the segment is done, you are dropped back into the film, right where you left off. It's a fun feature that lets "virgins" see a little bit of the Rocky phenomenon.
The disc comes with PC Friendly software (which, annoyingly, is Windows-only). Once installed, you have a bunch of choices...
• There's a trivia game that's worth playing just to read the silly trivia questions.
• There's another game which is basically Mad Libs (remember those?) with 3 different Rocky-related stories.
• There are bios for all of the main cast members.
• There are links to various Rocky Horror web sites.
• "Rocky Horror Jukebox" takes you right to the songs in the film.
• There's a custom DVD player with a cute "floorshow" frame.
• There's a screensaver with quotes from the film.
• There's a timeline with various Rocky milestones.
• Last but not least, an audience participation guide is included
....And that's just disc 1!!! (whew!)
Special Features (in no particular order):
From the 1995 Laserdisc:
• Alternate takes (Time Warp, Brad and Janet Undressed, Janet's Seduction, Floor Show Preparations).
• Deleted scenes "Superheroes" and Brad's song "Once In A While", although it seemed silly to have "Superheroes" on both discs.
• The more upbeat "Time Warp" ending, as well as the fabled "misprint" ending.
• The cheesy karaoke "sing-a-long" with "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me" and "Sweet Transvestite," with on-screen lyrics.
• Photo gallery.
Rocky on VH1:
Includes clips from "Behind The Music," "Where Are They Now?" and the complete "Hot Patootie" segment on "Pop-Up Video." It's fun reading about all of Meat Loaf's bumps on the noggin. The other excerpts are 10-15 minute slices of interviews with the film's stars. These segments alone are worth buying the disc.
• The 1995 documentary "Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show," with a history of Rocky and great interviews with a lot of the film's cast and crew. It's wonderfully informative.
• The two original theatrical trailers.
This disc is a treat from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, for both hardcore Rocky fans and "virgins" alike. I highly recommend picking this one up. It's definitely a keeper!
Chapters (UK Version):
1. Science Fiction/Double Feature (Main Titles)
2. The Home of Happiness
3. Dammit Janet
4. A Strange Journey
5. Over at the Frankenstein Place
6. A Hunting Lodge for Rich Weirdos
7. The Time Warp
8. Sweet Transvestite
9. What's on the Slab
10. Rocky's Birthday
11. Sword of Damocles
12. That's No Way to Behave
13. I Can Make You a Man
14. Hot Patootie
15. Eddie's Death
16. I Can Make You A Man (Reprise)
17. Frank and Rocky's Nuptials
19. Janet's Seduction
20. Rocky's Escape
21. Brad's Seduction
22. If Only.../Rocky Returns to the Womb
23. Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me
24. A Doctor in the House
25. Very Little Bonhomie
27. You'd Better Wise Up
28. The Medusa Device
29. Rose Tint My World
30. Fanfare/Don't Dream It
31. Wild and Untamed Thing
32. I'm Going Home
33. Hello, Oblivion
34. Return to Transsexual
36. End Credits