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Blu-ray Review

RHPS 35th Anniversary Blu-ray Release Date:
Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 (US & Canada)

Specs:
• Video: 1080p 1.66:1 Widescreen (AVC MPEG-4)
• Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 (English), Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Portuguese), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Polish)
• Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish
• Region A / BD-50 / Dual-layer

New Extras (HD):
• The Midnight Experience: On-screen features - Trivia Track, Vintage Callback Track (unrated), Prop Box, The Late Night Double Feature Picture-in-Picture Show (shadowcast performance)
• Rocky-oke - Sing It!: Sing-along songs from RHPS, with on-screen lyrics and optional vocals
• The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast: New two-part, hour-long documentary
• Mick Rock (A Photographer)
• Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery) (45 images)
• Poster Gallery (4 images)
• Pressbook Gallery
• BD-LIVE: Live Lookup, Powered by IMDb

Extras from Previous Releases (SD):

From 2000 DVD:
• Both US (without 'Superheroes' / 98 mins.) and UK (with 'Superheroes' / 100 mins.) versions of the film
• Alternate B&W Opening
• Audio commentary track with Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn

From 1995 LaserDisc:
• Deleted musical scenes 'Once in a While' and 'Superheroes'
• Alternate takes from 'Time Warp', 'Brad & Janet Undressed', 'Janet's Seduction' and 'Floor Show Preparations'
• Alternate credit ending
• Misprint ending
• Two theatrical trailers
• 'Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show' documentary

From 1990 VHS:
• Beacon Theater, New York City (10th Anniversary)
• Time Warp Music Video

Omitted Extras:

From 2000 DVD:
• VH1: 'Hot Patootie' from 'Pop-Up Video', unedited interviews from 'Behind the Music'
• DVD-ROM features including trivia game, screen saver and more

From 1995 LaserDisc:
• Photo Gallery (replaced by Mick Rock gallery, poster gallery)
• 'Sing-A-Long' karaoke videos for 'Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me' and 'Sweet Transvestite' (replaced by Rocky-oke)


Film Synopsis (from box cover):
Let's Do The Time Warp... on Blu-ray!

You asked for The Rocky Horror Picture Show on Blu-ray and you shall receive it... in abundance!

Recreate The Midnight Movie Experience in your living room and celebrate 35 years of absolute pleasure with this picture-perfect specimen of Richard O'Brien's cosmic cult classic starring Tim Curry, Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon.

It's brimming with twisted humor, mind-blowing music and decadent extras. So come up to the lab... See what's on the slab...

And Let The Fun Begin!


Menu:
After some Fox promos, and the prerequisite FBI warning, a menu pops up, asking if you want the US version or the UK version. After you choose, the main menu, with faux "movie posters" appears on-screen, all to the tune of "Science Fiction / Double Feature (Reprise)". Below that are the main options: Play, Set Up, Search, and Extras. When hitting Play, you are given the option to watch the film with the alternate B&W opening, previously available as an Easter Egg on the DVD. This option is also available in the Extras menu.


Video:

The Great:
A brand new transfer was created from the original camera negative, scanned at 4K resolution, and downconverted and restored at 2K resolution, specifically for this release (for more info on Fox and Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging's work on this transfer, click here). The image seems to have more natural flesh tones and more vibrant color reproduction than its DVD counterpart, which seemed to push towards more green hues in some shots and pink hues in others. There is a healthy helping of fine film grain in the majority of shots, and little to no digital noise reduction or edge enhancement. In these shots, the image yields even more detail than a typical release print of RHPS. For example, I learned from this disc (it being sharp enough to be able to read some of 'The Denton Affair') that Dr. Everett Scott's middle name is Zanuck! A few shots show slight print damage in the form of small vertical scratches, but these are not distracting in the least. The Blu-ray image is slightly darker than the DVD, but the increase in detail and contrast definitely makes up for this. Doing a comparison to its DVD counterpart, there seems to be slightly more picture available on either side of the framed image, and the picture geometry seems slightly improved from the DVD as well.

The Good:
The opening credits of the film have black bars on the top and bottom of the image, which is there but barely noticeable. In addition, the only shots in this release that look soft are any process shots or shots with transitions, as those shots were printed on double processed, 'Color Reversal Internegative' film stock, and no fault of the transfer itself. Some of these shots seem to look equal to or slightly softer than a release print, but are still of higher quality than the DVD.

Issues:
A problem that has occurred in every home video release of RHPS, is that the "Time Warp flashback" scenes near the end of the film are mistakenly 'color-corrected' from their intentional blue tint. Unfortunately, for the first time, this not only occurs with just the previously mentioned scene, but also during all of Brad's blue tinted bedroom scenes and some of Janet's red tinted scenes that take place immediately after Brad's aforementioned scenes.


Audio:

History:
In 1990, Fox commissioned 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. In 2000, for the DVD, Chace was given the original 24-track music master and the original mono audio stems, to create a mostly front-heavy discrete 5.1 surround sound mix, presented in Dolby Digital on the DVD.

The Blu-ray 7.1 Mix:
For the Blu-ray release, a new lossless 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track was created by Post Haste Audio (for more info on Post Haste Audio's work on this mix, click here). In between songs, the mix is mostly similar to the 5.1 mix. During the musical numbers, however, Post Haste took a new approach, starting with musical placement similar to the 5.1 mix, then placing instruments and backing vocals discretely into the side and rear channels to create surround-heavy and surround-intensive songs. Another new aspect of this mix is that most instruments that were in the center channel of the 5.1 mix are now spread to other channels, leaving the center channel to handle the main vocals and making said vocals seem to sound more pronounced. The result is a highly dynamic mix where the songs come to life and literally surround the listener. NOTE: The US version features the very abrupt audio edit in 'Superheroes' that first appreared on the DVD release.

Issues:
There seems to be only one major problem with the 7.1 mix, and unfortunately, it is major: All of Janet's vocals in Over at the Frankenstein Place were mistakenly taken from a previously unreleased take, and it's easy to see why the take wasn't released. It's jarring to hear some of the lines sung quite off-key, and Janet's lips no longer match the screen.

Original Mono Mix:
As an alternative, the original mono mix of the film is also included, sans the aforementioned audio issue. The mono track, though, has its own issue: The 'Time Warp' music in the end credits has been replaced with its counterpart from the 7.1 track.


Extras:
The new Blu-ray contains a plethora of fun new special features, as well as many of the extras fans have come to know and love. Let's go through them, one by one:

The Midnight Experience:
This feature is really four user-selecatable in-feature components, for viewing with the film. It consists of:

A) 'Trivia Track' in the upper left corner of the screen, with anecdotes about the film.

B) Unrated 'Vintage Callback Track' in the upper right corner, which consists of callback lines compiled from the 1983 Audience Participation album by Sal Piro.

C) 'Prop Box' in the lower left corner, which resembles a trunk and has a set of props (prunes, hot dogs, playing cards, bell, party hat, toast, toilet paper, confetti, noisemaker, rubber gloves, lighter, newspaper, squirt gun, rice) to throw on-screen by using the arrows and hitting the 'Enter' button, and an auto-picker which goes to the right props at the right time in the movie.

D) 'The Late Night Double Feature Picture-in-Picture Show', in the lower right corner, a feature-length performance by the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, created specifically for this release. The 'PiP Show' can be toggled to full-screen (and back to the window) by hitting the green button on your remote. This is a special viewing mode, so standard subtitles cannot be viewed along with it.

Rocky-oke - Sing It!:
This is a fun extra, where you can pick specific RHPS musical numbers to sing along with, including karaoke-style subtitles at the bottom of the screen. All the songs are here, either with vocals (from the 5.1 mix) or without vocals (from the mono mix, with the vocals removed, but with sound effects and music remaining). A few tracks in the non-vocal mode include the background vocals, but most of the tracks do not. You also have the option to pick a single song or play them all in succession. Just to be clear, this option is separate and is not viewable inside the main feature.

The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast:
This hour-long, two-part documentary, produced by Trailer Park, is specifically about the Audience Participation phenomenon and the hardcore fans who make it that way. The program covers the process of the auditions that took place starting in Autumn of 2009 in Los Angeles, then travelling to New York and London. During the auditioning process, performers from shadowcasts around the world are interviewed, their auditions are fun to watch, and these people give wonderful insights into why they love RHPS and how the movie has changed their lives. Patricia Quinn and Barry Bostwick also make apprearances, Barry being an official judge for the audition process. Then the winners are picked, and we get to see the forming of the 'North Denton Aristocrats' (NDA, named after the Non-Disclosure Agreements that were required to be signed) and the making of their 'PiP Show' at the Warner Grand theater in San Pedro, CA. This documentary alone is worth the cost of the disc!

Mick Rock (A Photographer):
This is a three-minute interview with Mick Rock on how he came to be involved with RHPS and his inspiration for said photos.

Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery):
A slideshow collection of 45 of Mick Rock's RHPS images.

Poster Gallery:
A slideshow collection of four RHPS posters (US style A, US style B, 10th Anniversary 'Barbie Cake', Japan).

Pressbook Gallery:
An interactive, readable version of the RHPS pressbook, complete with advertising ideas and ad slicks.

Extras from Previous Releases:
Many of the extras from the 1990 VHS, 1995 LaserDisc, and 2000 DVD releases are included, in upconverted standard definition, windowboxed for HD. Going through all the LD and DVD features would be silly, as they're on disc 2 of the DVD, and included in the 2000 DVD review. It is interesting to note, that for the first time in years, the 1990 VHS segments are included on this disc. It's also interesting to note, 'Superheroes' is included as a separate feature, in HD with 5.1 audio.

A few other extras from the DVD got the axe, such as the VH1 segments (which will be missed), the audio-based audience participation track (originally from the 1995 LaserDisc), the audience participation 'cutaways' from the DVD, and the largely outdated DVD-ROM features. Many missing extras from the LaserDisc have been replaced with updated features, namely the Photo Gallery, which are replaced with the Mick Rock gallery and the poster gallery; and the 'Sing-A-Long' karaoke videos for 'Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me' and 'Sweet Transvestite', which are replaced with the Rocky-oke feature.

Other Features:
Hitting the green button during the main feature (paused or playing) will allow you to create bookmarks, so that you can jump back to scenes later. The bookmarks are accessible and deletable from the Search menu.


Conclusion:
Other than a small handful of A/V issues, the image and sound quality on 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's 35th Anniversary Blu-ray are amazing, the book-style packaging is great, and the many special features are fun and engaging. I'd say this Blu-ray is definitely worth a purchase.

Video: 7/10
Audio: 7/10
Extras: 10/10
Overall Value: 8/10

Chapters (UK Version):
The chapter list is the same as the DVD:

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
18. Apprehension
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
26. Eddie
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
35. Superheroes
36. End Credits


Other Participation Sites

RHPS FAQ Text Files
www.rockyhorror.org

A good source for Rocky Horror audience participation scripts.

TimeWarp UK Virgin's Guide
www.timewarp.org.uk

More tips for your "first time".

RockyCast Forum
www.rockycast.net

RHPS fan forum from Cosmo's Factory.

TRHPS MySpace Cast Pages
www.myspace.com

Links to TRHPS casts on MySpace.

TRHPS Newsgroup on Google
groups.google.com

The original Internet discussion forum for The Rocky Horror Picture Show.


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