Sweet Success or Damnit Fox?
For years the Rocky Horror Picture Show has been hailed as a cult classic, becoming the longest running film in theatres across the globe. It is, unsurprisingly, a firm favourite that spans generations. To mark it’s 40th anniversary, it was announced Fox would be producing a remake of the widely popular film, which was received with both enthusiasm and trepidation and rightly so.
Despite only being released a few days ago the new Rocky Horror Picture Show: Lets Do the Time Warp Again has already decisively split fans of the original. Whilst the overwhelming feeling from the US so far seems to be disappointment there are some fans who have expressed delight at the new take on their much loved film. The songs from the remake that have come under particular scrutiny are, as to be expected, the tracks that are felt to be iconic of the movie itself such as the ‘Time Warp’ and ‘Touch Me’.
Overall the music of Rocky Horror has been undeniably updated in the remake, although this can be felt more strongly in some tracks than others. To achieve the contemporary sound, many of the songs have been synthesised with pop to factor in mainstream audiences. This does, unfortunately, give the whole soundtrack a more ‘PG’ feel, something that has been a main complaint of fans so far.
Perhaps the most iconic song from the entire movie is the ‘Time Warp’; its newest reincarnation is spear headed by Reeve Carney as Riff Raff and Christina Milian as Magenta. This version of the song, from the outset, has clearly become more Hollywood than cult classic but this isn’t a wholly negative thing to have happened. Whilst the modern day influence has undeniably removed some of the grit that attracted fans to the original, the ‘Time Warp’ still evokes the same feeling of freaky fun and is catchy and dynamic. Plus the appearance of Tim Curry as Narrator provides an instant draw for any hardcore Rocky Horror fans.
‘Touch-A Touch-A Touch Me’ is another song that instantly springs to mind when you think Rocky Horror. This too has received the Hollywood makeover, although similarly to the ‘Time Warp’, this is not entirely bad. The main criticism so far about this track is that many fans feel like it’s too tame, particularly compared to the original and since it’s edginess and debauchery characterises Rocky Horror as a whole this was a let down.
However Victoria Justice as Janet still performs the song remarkably well, making up slightly for the lack of intensity. Her vocals are more controlled and silkier than Susan Sarandon but surprisingly this is what contributes to its somewhat docile nature. Fox have also focused the song on Janet and Rocky, with only minute interference from Magenta and Columbia and other characters; whilst this is slightly disappointing given how the voyeurism in the first film is what makes the song so illicit, it has given the performers a chance to make the song more extravagant, giving it an almost Broadway musical film. Whether this is a good thing is definitely up to the individuals interpretation.
The other song from the soundtrack that has to be mentioned is ‘Sweet Transvestite’, as Rocky Horror would not have been Rocky Horror without Tim Curry’s incredible performance. Similarly to the other songs, this track has also been exaggerated with both the music itself and the performance bigger and better. Unlike the original there is more interaction with the company singers not just Frank N Furter; it also has a big band atmosphere, that can again be put down to the modern
influences. However other than a couple of instances where Frank N Furter’s performance is exaggerated, particularly the pause in ‘antici-pation’ Laverne Cox sticks very close to Tim Curry’s performance, which was probably the best course of action with this song.
It is very easy to see why the fans have been so decisively split with this remake, particularly with the much loved music. Each song has had the individuals own spin put upon in but it is clear that they have taken great care not to stray too far from the original, especially since this film was intended to honour the original on its 40th anniversary.
Using popular performers has created an endearing draw around the movie and its soundtrack and the updating of the music could bring in a contemporary audience that didn’t before know of or like the original. However the music still lacks the edginess that characterised and embodied the ideal of Rocky Horror so does, in that way at least, fall flat. It’s hard not to be taken in by the contemporary glamour of the reboot which does, if nothing else, remind us why we love Rocky Horror. But with the UK release of the movie not scheduled until 1st November the UK fans still have time to make their mind up about Rocky Horrors reincarnation.
– By Kathryn Cockrill
Image Credit: Fox