The story follows Brad (Bostwick) and Janet (Sarandon), a young couple who suffer an unfortunate tyre blowout in the middle of a forest while on their way to visit their former college professor. Their search for assistance leads them to an old castle where a madcap series of events unfolds, covering the likes of aliens, transvestitism, incest, and genetic experimentation, all tied together with an incredible glam/punk/rock n' roll soundtrack and plenty of nods to 1950s sci-fi.
Tim Curry turns in a wonderfully over the top performance as the genteel but deranged cross-dressing scientist Frank-N-Furter, and the rest of the cast fit their roles perfectly. Show creator Richard O'Brien plays the creepy and sinister downtrodden butler Riff Raff to perfection, with his on-screen ‘are they or aren't they?’ sister Magenta (Patricia Quinn) adding an uneasy air of menace to proceedings. And let's not forget Little Nell as Columbia, clearly infatuated with and devoted to Frank while quietly grieving for her missing biker boyfriend Eddie (Meatloaf). With many of the cast members reprising their roles from the original stage production, you can see how the main players had plenty of time to hone their characters to the point where it's difficult to imagine how any of the performances could have been improved upon.
Unfortunately however (and I really do hate to say this), it isn't difficult to imagine how this 40th Anniversary re-release could have been made into a more attractive proposition for long-term Rocky fans. Serving more as a re-marketing than a re-release, the contents of this Blu Ray are exactly the same as the previous 35th Anniversary edition (and even then, some of those were recycled from previous DVD releases). The artwork has been changed, but the menu screens, options interface, and extras are all identical to the previous 2010 Blu Ray release. The ‘Collector's Edition’ does come with some pink rubber gloves, a pair of fishnet stockings, and a soundtrack CD, but it's a shame that no effort has been put into adding some new content to the disc itself. With 40 years of history to draw from, and the stage show still touring around the world, it's disappointing that nobody thought to dig out a few bits of memorabilia or interview some members of the cast. Even a Behind the Scenes feature from one of the current stage productions might have been a nice addition.
What we do get though, is all perfectly good stuff for those who haven't seen it before. The picture quality is superb, with plenty of background details being much more visible than they were in previous DVD releases, and the option to switch between the old mono and newly reworked stereo soundtracks is much appreciated, especially seeing as some of the reworked soundtrack can be a little bit jarring at times. The extras included are all pretty interesting, with commentary from Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn giving an insight into both stage and film versions of the show. There's also a 35-minute documentary (a survivor from the 25th Anniversary DVD), some audience participation footage, a karaoke option, outtakes, missing songs, and a whole host of other bits and pieces that really show the extent to which the show has built up such a large following over the years.
Judging this release solely on its own merits, there's still no better and more complete version of the movie around. It's hugely disappointing that the extras haven't been updated though, and that (apart from the rubber gloves etc.) the overall package is identical to the previous release. With its tongue planted firmly in its own cheek though, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is still the ultimate midnight movie. If this release might attract some new fans and keep the dream alive then it can only be a good thing, but here's hoping that the next version might contain something for owners of previous editions. We're guessing we'll probably find out when the 45th anniversary rolls around in 2020!
Extras: Rocky-oke: Sing It! / Commentary By Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn / Don't Dream It, Be It: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part I / An-tic-i-pation: The Search for the 35th Anniversary Shadowcast, Part II / Mick Rock (A Photographer) / Mick Rock's Picture Show (A Gallery) / A Few From The Vault / Deleted Musical Scenes / Outtakes / Alternate B&W Opening /Alternate Credit & Misprint Ending / Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show (1995) / Beacon Theater, New York City (10th Anniversary) / Time Warp Music Video / The Midnight Experience / Pressbook & Poster Gallery
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (40TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JIM SHARMAN / SCREENPLAY: JIM SHARMAN, RICHARD O'BRIEN / STARRING: TIM CURRY, SUSAN SARANDON, BARRY BOSTWICK, RICHARD O'BRIEN, PATRICIA QUINN, LITTLE NELL, MEATLOAF / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW