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|Index||109 reviews in total|
"Shock Treatment", aside from being a hellava lot of fun, seems to be
Richard O'Brien's dig at the whole RHPS phenomenon.
Forget about this being a RHPS sequel. It's not. The whole tone is different. RHPS was an affectionate salute to B-science fiction movies of the 50's married to the seventies punk rock movement. "Shock Treatment", if it is related to RHPS at all, is a satire of the whole RHPS fan culture. Consider: "Shock Treatment" takes place in a TV studio where the audience lives 24/7. They live for the highs received from Denton TV, yet are a pretty conservative lot on the whole. Isn't that like the typical RHPS audience where straight laced Brad and Janet types go to the show, enjoy the freakiness for two hours, then go back to their normal, suburban lives? "Shock Treatment" goes to great lengths to satirize the horrors of suburbanity, and the costumed entertainers they worship. The most blatant example? Two of the main characters, who profess to be doctors, turn out to be character actors. Character actors who have great fun in costume and in the end, drive off into the sunset, in a cool new car, back to suburban normalcy.
And you know what? I have barely scratched the surface of what makes "Shock Treatment" so clever. If you've read anything recent written about it, you know the film is a huge piss take on reality television, and a prescient(by over 20 years)parody of our current culture which makes stars of...well, whomever the TV industry, film industry, and Hollywood publicists tell us we should think of as stars. Paris Hilton? Vin Diesel? Even Jude Law. Did we discover these people? No, they were foisted upon us,we were TOLD they were stars, much as Janet is in "Shock Treatment". When Janet wakes up and realizes she wants her real life back, another cute chick is pimped up and easily accepted.
"Shock Treatment" is a very smart movie that works on the intellectual level RHPS did not. Hey, I love RHPS, but it operates from a gut, instinctual level. "Shock Treatment", if you give it a chance, will make you think about the media's grip on society, make you take a second look at the "stars" adorning the covers of magazines such as Entertainemt Weekly, give you a whole new take on the audiences lining up for RHPS every Halloween (unlike the 80's when we went every month or weekend), and, having been made in 1981 (!) add no surprise to the fact that Richard O'Brien is a prescient futurist who made a killing in the stock market.
Heck, I haven't even talked about the fact that "Shock Treatment"s use of primary colors, editing, and music video style sequences, predates the birth of MTV by at least a year. This movie could be called a template for the 80's music video boom.
Lastly, I have to comment on one facet which will either a) draw RHPS fans and non fans to check this move out or b) disregard this entire review. I absolutely, unequivocally, LOVE the music in this movie. Every song is fun in the best tradition of the short lived "rock musical" genre (I often sing a somewhat edited version of "Lullaby" to my kids at bedtime)and, on screen, every song is presented with a strong sense of atmosphere. Come to think of it, this IS "Shock Treatment"s greatest commonality to RHPS, except in RHPS, the atmosphere was dark and cluttered, in "Shock Treatment", it's bright and sterile. Two different settings. Two different themes. Both brilliantly achieved.
As people have said, this film got a horribly bad rap, and made very
money. The reason, as people have also said, is that it was expected to be
in the same vein as RHPS, which it simply was not. Sure, it had Richard
O'Brien's trademark musical style and whimsy, but it wasn't the campy
people were expecting. It was, in fact, an intellectual movie with a
message, a brilliant satire of life in the late 20th century. O'Brien
jabs at the hallmarks of the decline of modern Western civilisation;
conformity, machismo, brainwashing, and the absurdity of the "American
The plot can be a little hard to discern on the first viewing, but, as with many great intellectual films, more nuances of what O'Brien is trying to say are picked up with each subsequent viewing. The film is certainly surreal, to say the least; and I would suspect psychedelics were somehow involved in the writing of the script. Denton, the picaresque happy U.S. everytown, is actually just a television studio; and all the residents are characters on television shows or are in the audience. Enter Brad and Janet, who, after experiencing the "horrors" of RHPS, are having marital difficulties. This works perfectly into the plan of a mysterious fast food magnate, who intends to steal Janet away from her husband and use her to promote his business. He conspires to have Brad locked up in the local mental hospital/soap opera, while promoting Janet as a new bombshell sensation, and taking the whole town under his thumb.
In short, if you're looking for more of RHPS, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you want a thought-provoking yet whimsical, tongue-in-cheek attack on all that is mind-numbing and soul crushing in our modern world, definately check this film out. Jonathan Swift would be proud.
I had heard a lot of bad things about this "sequel" to "The Rocky Horror
Picture Show", and I can see how people expecting a return to the sexual
hi-jinx of that classic would be disappointed. I found this to be great in a
completely different way. Save for a few RHPS character and location names,
this is pretty much unrelated to that flick. This stands on it's
as an excellent musical-comedy with great songs and characters.
"Shock Treatment" takes place entirely in the television station of DTV, a local TV station that probes into the lives of its town's citizens. Brad and Janet (who act differently and are played by different actors than in RHPS) discuss their marital strife and appear on "Marriage Maze". Brad is found to be in need of help, so he's shipped off to "Dentonvale", the channel's bizarre medical show, while Janet is groomed to be the new star of "Denton Dossier", a show that tells people how great Denton is. Meanwhile, nefarious fast food mogul Farley Flavors is conspiring to take over the town and Janet with his latest show, "Farley Flavor's Faith Factory".
Jessica Campbell (who has worked with Dario Argento AND Woody Allen) is superb as Janet, and Cliff De Young plays Brad and Farley so excellently it's hard to tell it's the same actor (he even has a duet with himself!). The rest of the cast is populated with British comedians (Ruby Wax, Barry Humphries, and "The Young Ones"' Rik Mayal, who should have had a bigger part) and RHPS vets including Patricia Quinn, Little Nell, Charles Grey (also a former Blofeld!), and composer Richard O'Brian.
O'Brian's songs are fantastic and some exceed the quality of tunes in the better known "Rocky Horror". Clever lyrics and catchy tunes abound in classics like "Bitchin' in the Kitchen", "Little Black Dress", and the haunting "Lullaby". The choreography is great too, like the brief mirror-dance that accompanies "Look What I Did To My Id".
"Shock Treatmet" gets T-E-N, that's ten out of ten!
I loved Rocky Horror. I thought it was a great film and proves to be
one of my favorite musicals. So when I found out that there was a
sequel, I searched it out... with much difficulty. Apparently the film
was a huge flop and therefore is extremely rare. (funny, when you think
about Rocky Horror, which was originally a huge flop as well, but was
re-released after finding cult status).
I have just watched Shock Treatment twice in a row and I'm proud to say I love it just as much as Rocky Horror. But be warned, Shock Treatment has completely different subject matter (which means no revealing cross-dressing, references to old horror films and no Tim Curry), but some familiar characters and some very familiar actors appear in a film that looks at the brain-washing nature of television.
It wasn't the sequel I expected, but after seeing it twice, I realize it is the perfect sequel to a perfect film like Rocky Horror.
But the emotion I was filled most with after watching this film wasn't happiness, it was frustration. I was frustrated that this film is shunned by many, that it never has been released onto DVD and most probably never will be. It was depressing to know that probably the only way I am ever going to view this great film is on a terrible quality full screen VHS cassette.
I'm hoping that this will find higher status eventually and is released onto a far more watchable medium. This film proves a satirical look at television, specifically in the eighties, but in doing so creates a prophetic masterpiece long before its time.
A decent movie, and nowhere near as bad as everyone makes out. Whereas Rocky Horror is weird in it's transvestite/alien way, this is actually better for a mainstream audience - it may be weird, but in a surreal/escapist way. Nice to see Ruby Wax in a lead role - she actually has a pretty big part as Betty, And the Rocky Horror actors - Richard O' Brien, Pat Quinn, Charles Gray and Nell Campbell are all great too (although it would have been nice to see a bit more of Nell) Keep a look out too for a pre-'Young Ones' Rik Mayall, playing Nell's love interest, interestingly enough. My advice is, if you can find a copy, get it - it's well worth investing in, whatever people may say.
This movie does match and surpass "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in many
ways. You can tell that Richard O'Brien and the film's producers had a
bigger budget to work with. The songs are a match to the original (same song
writer, same style...). Visually, a little too heavy on the reds, but this
WAS 1981, after all. This movie will be enjoyed by those who will get the
Rocky Horror references that are scattered throughout. Too bad Barry
Bostwick and Susan Sarandon weren't there to provide a little more
continuity to their characters. Jessica Harper does a great job though, she
appeared in several off-beat movies in the 70s ("Phantom Of The Paradise"
and "Suspiria" spring to mind) so playing in a Richard O'Brien movie was not
too much of a stretch for her it seems. This sequel was, to me, a lot sexier
than RHPS. The original seemed to center on campiness and shock value, it's
here as well, but there is a lot more eye-candy in this
I'm still waiting for a Richard O'Brien / John Waters musical collaboration. Imagine the possibilities!
Shock Treatment is an extremely strange movie, the plot is all over the
place, the songs are weird and the confusion factor for the viewer is
But Shock Treatment is a good movie.
Forget everything about RHPS, there are no singing tranvestites or Meat Loaf
getting hacked to bits with an axe, Shock Treatment is very
It is a funny satire about how television has become an obsession. It's also
about Brad and Janet Majors, who become contestants on a show called
Marriage Maze and Brad is committed into a mental asylum, placed
convieniently inside the TV studio.
It's funny to see most of the cast return for a great big musical full of
But a warning to the gay community, one song contains the lyrics.."Faggots
are maggots-thank god I'm a man!"
No consumer advice but it really doesn't need any. There's nothing that troubling.
Ah, "Shock Treatment"-- a witty, campy, colorful movie bursting with
cheeky innuendo and amazing songs (one line from "Duel Duet": "You're a
dead-end, deadbeat, nowhere mister with a kisser like a Mississippi
First of all, you have to approach "Shock Treatment" as a sequel to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." While it doesn't contain the same level of raunchy cheese (or the aliens, or the transvestites, or the sex gags... mostly), it follows the married life of Brad and Janet Majors... who are now on the rocks (no pun intended) after years of marital boredom. This is because Brad is the only person in the town of Denton who doesn't jump for joy watching the town's mind-numbing TV station, which is ruled by a greedy corporate sleaze master with an old connection to Brad and Janet.
So eventually, a phony TV host (Barry Humphries, aka Dame Edna) and his quack-psych-doctor cohorts (Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, who played Riff Raff and Magenta in RHPS) take Brad a hostage in their psychiatric facility/soap opera set so that station sponsor Farley Flavors can turn Janet into the next big DTV star.
A few cast members return in different roles (Charles Gray, Nell Campbell, and some of the Transylvanians, for example), with Jeremy Newson coming back as Ralph Hapschatt. Generally, people dislike this movie, but I love it. And you know why? It's rock and roll. It's obscure. And it's just too much of a riot to pass up.
After afew years since my last comment on this movie things have
changed. The explosion of reality television on TV now makes the
commentary on this movie a lot more relevant then when it was originally
released. This movie looks not only at the "actors" of this form of
entertainment but also the audience and even the producers. A lot of the
people who watch this movie are seeing it in a monotone 2 dimensional
way, when this movie has a lot more depth then can be seen with such a
This movie still deserves the 9/10 I gave it 2 years ago, it probably deserves 10. The style with which O'Brien shows the consumer/TV culture that was forming at the time this movie was made still works even today. This movie is a satire, it is not a spoof like the RHPS was, it is not a sequel, and it cannot be watched in the same manner. It works very very well as a satire on it's topic though using over the top imagery, effective musical numbers, and very over the top characterization.
'Shock Treatment' will always suffer in comparison with its older, weirder
sibling 'Rocky Horror', but comparison of the two is not really the point.
Richard O'Brien, the author of both films, has created a movie musical
of American pop culture that should be viewed and enjoyed in its own
Sure Brad and Janet, the wholesome couple who ran afoul of the
Transylvanians in the first film reappear, but from that point on 'Shock
Treatment' spins dementedly off on a trajectory all its own.
Jessica Harper takes over the role of Janet, Cliff de Young is Brad (and Farley Flavor, sinister tv station owner) and both actors are fine. Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn, the incestuous siblings from 'Rocky Horror' appear as, well, incestuous siblings, doctor hosts of a tv medical show. Barry Humphries is slyly hilarious in the role of Bert Schnick, gameshow compere.
The central concept of 'Shock Treatment' is that Denton, USA, the wholesome American town alluded to as the benchmark of normality in 'Rocky Horror', is in the thrall of tv culture. Citizens are avid viewers who live vicariously through the personalities inhabiting the various programmes broadcast by DTV, the local television station. Popularity is all, and independent thought regarded as a sign of mental instability. Into this brightly lit soap opera of a world come Brad and Janet, unhappily married and contestants on a game show which airs their marital disharmony for all the world to see. Brad is whisked off for psychiatric help and Janet groomed for stardom on a new show. Farley Flavor covets Janet from afar and schemes with Cosmo & Nation McKinley, the fraudulent tv doctors and character actors, to keep Brad and Janet apart while he makes his move. Rushing to brad's help comes Betty Hapschatt, recently sacked morning show hostess (and Rocky Horror newlywed), played deliciously by the ever-abrasive Ruby Wax.
Richard O'Brien shrinks from a more incisive scrutiny of the dumbing-down of America by it's television obsession. The songs in 'Shock Treatment' are short, bright and instantly forgettable, and the characters flat and garish as, er, cartoons. But the whole package is shiny, good-humoured and utterly entertaining. Watch 'Network' if you want a bitter critique of television culture, but watch 'Shock Treatment' for the sheer mindless pleasure of it.
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