Fun facts about the Rocky Horror Picture Show
1. Some big celebrities showed interest to be part of the original film. Mick Jagger (Rolling Stones) expressed an interest to play the part of Dr. Frank-N-Furter but the producers passed so they could stick with Tim Curry, the actor who defined the role in both the British and American theatrical productions.
2. Steve Martin also auditioned to play the role of Brad, a part that eventually went to actor Barry Boswick. The actor the crew really wanted to appear in the film was horror movie legend Vincent Price who actually saw the play on its opening night, according to ‘Rocky Horror’ creator Richard O’Brien.
Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts prevented him from accepting and the role of the narrator went to actor Charles Gray.
3. Meatloaf walked out of the American stage production when he first saw Tim Curry in his stage costume. According to an interview he gave to VH1 to celebrate one of the film’s many anniversaries, the cast only rehearsed the songs before they even saw the script. He didn’t realize what he was getting into until Tim Curry showed up to a rehearsal in his full costume while singing the song ‘Sweet Transvestite.’ Meatloaf said he was so shocked that he walked out of the theatre in the middle of the production. Eventually, actor Graham Jarvis, who played the Narrator in the stage version, talked him into staying.
4. Meatloaf wanted to play Dr. Scott and Eddie in the movie as this was the way they did it at the stage production.
5. Peter Hinwood, the actor (and underwear model) who played Rocky Horror does not speak or sing his own lines. The filmmakers hired him on accord of his looks. According to the book “Rocky Horror: From Concept to Cult,” his entire musical performance had to be dubbed over by Australian singer Trevor White while Hinwood mouthed the words to the songs on set. Director Jim Sharman also wasn’t very pleased with Hinwood’s speaking voice either so they had White dub his dialogue as well. In an interview in 2000 he confirmed that he gave up acting to become an antiques dealer because he realised he couldn’t act and hated watching himself on screen.
6. Susan Sarandon (Janet) was sick with the flu (or according to some sources, pneumonia) during the filming—in the “floor show” scene. O’Brien said Sarandon was “shaking with fever.”
7. The film featured several performers who appeared in The Rocky Horror Show onstage, including Richard O’Brien (Riff-Raff), Nell Campbell (Columbia), Tim Curry (Frank-N-Furter), Patricia Quinn (Magenta), Meat Loaf (Eddie) and Jonathan Adams (Dr. Scott).
9. Susan Sarandon and Barry Bostwick are the only Americans in lead roles.
10. Tim Curry modeled Frank-N-Furter’s voice after two women: Queen Elizabeth II and his mother. Frank N Furter nearly had a German accent. In a TV interview Tim Curry explained that he originally intended to give Frank a typical ‘mad scientist’ German accent, but eventually ended up mimicking a very posh lady he once noticed on the bus to create the character’s extremely proper English voice.
11. In the dinner scene, Barry Bostwick pounds his fist on the table, accidentally hitting Susan Sarandon’s hand—and her reaction is priceless…But don’t feel sorry for Sarandon! Watch the “floor show” scene carefully: She steps on Bostwick’s foot with her heel, visibly hurting him.
12. Only Tim Curry and Richard O’Brien knew Eddie’s remains were under the table during the dinner scene—when the body is revealed, the looks of horror on the actors’ faces were real.
13. Tim Curry’s advice to future Frank-N-Furters: “Never think about it as drag, ‘cause it’s not. It’s just what people wear in Transylvania, so just get over it.”
14. Quinn’s hair was sprayed red every day, not dyed.
15. In the opening wedding scene the minister is Tim Curry (Dr. Frank N. Furter), the “old man” to his left is Richard O’Brien (Riff Raff) and the “wife” to his right is Patricia Quinn (Magenta).
THE SET, MAKE-UP AND PROPS
1. The skeleton in the coffin clock, featured in “The Time Warp” was real. It belonged to the woman who had commissioned the clock. In March 2002, Sothebys auctioned off the coffin-clock; it went for £35,000.
2. One can actually go and stay in Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s castle. The film was originally shot at Oakley Court in Windsor, England. It was also used for several of the Hammer horror films (The Brides of Dracula, And Now the Screaming Starts, The Old Dark House and Murder by Death). Oakley Court has been turned into a world class hotel where you can go and stay (bucket list!). Something interesting to know is when it was used as the filming location; it had no heat or bathrooms.
3. Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s creation doesn’t have a belly button. Less eagle-eyed or curious viewer may not have noticed this tiny but important detail: the makeup department created a plug that fit over Peter Hinwood’s belly button to hide it from view during filming. It’s an important distinction for the story — since Rocky was created by Dr. Frank-N-Furter completely from scratch that means he didn’t have an umbilical cord and therefore shouldn’t have a belly button.
4. The motorcycle scene saw some serious accidents. One of the film’s more memorable scenes features Eddie, played by Meatloaf, crashing into the Doctor’s laboratory through a block of ice on a military grade motorcycle. The scene required a stuntman and some clever grip work to make it seem like Meatloaf was on the bike. Meatloaf’s stuntman drove the motorcycle through the scene including up and down several steep ramps. The bike fell off the top tier and landed upside down pinning the stuntman underneath it. Meatloaf said he ran over and somehow mustered enough strength to lift the heavy bike just enough to move it off of him. The stuntman did not move for sometime but eventually opened his eyes and told everyone he was OK. He later told Meatloaf that it was an old stuntman trick to make sure he wasn’t suffering any pain or serious injuries before moving.
5. Pierre La Roche, who did the make-up for Mick Jagger and created David Bowie’s iconic Ziggy Stardust makeup, created Dr. Frank-N-Furter’s look—but it took him so long to apply the makeup (four hours), Curry ended up doing it himself.
6. The costume budget was $1,600 (around £1,060). Considering the number of elaborate costumes required, this was a very tiny budget. Despite the fact that designer Sue Blane admitted to doing no research whatsoever before creating the Rocky Horror costumes, her work went on to inspire a whole new style of dressing. Blane is credited with starting trends such as brightly coloured hair and ripped fishnet tights that became a big part of punk rock fashion.
7. Some Hammer Horror props were re-used in the film. As well as shooting on an old Hammer Horror set, some props used in Rocky Horror were borrowed directly from those iconic films.
The tank that Rocky is born from – as well as the dummy swathed in bandages inside it – both originally appeared in 1958 Hammer Horror The Revenge of Frankenstein which was also filmed at Bray Studios.
8. Peter Hinwood (Rocky Horror) auctioned his gold hot pants for $1,000. Hinwood discovered Rocky’s signature tiny gold hot pants in his home in the early ’90s and sold them at an auction. Hard Rock Café snapped them up to add to their memorabilia collection.
9. Meat Loaf couldn’t actually ride a motorcycle. A stunt double was used in the far away shots of Eddie riding his motorcycle around Frank’s lab, and in the close ups Meat Loaf is actually being pushed in a wheelchair to simulate the movement of his bike.
10. Production could only afford both ends of the church, which are clearly seen in the film. What isn’t seen is the middle of the church, which had no sides or roof.
THE PRODUCTION, SONGS AND SCREENINGS
The originally proposed opening sequence was to contain clips of various films mentioned in the lyrics, as well as the first few sequences shot in black and white, but this was deemed too expensive, and scrapped.
It holds the record for the longest theatrical film release. ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ may have been an infamous bomb when it hit theatres in 1975, but it more than made up for its initial losses by becoming a midnight movie standard. The word of mouth turned the screenings into sold out shows and it wasn’t long before the film became a cult classic.
20th Century Fox have never pulled it from theatrical release and it has been shown in cinemas across the world constantly since 1975.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was filmed over six weeks with a budget of $1.4 million.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show was released on VHS for the first time in the United States in 1990. It originally retailed for $89.95.
Brad had another song in the original version of the musical, and it was intended to be in the movie version. O’Brien can’t remember why it was ultimately left out, but he does mention it was cut in during the scene with Janet along in the laboratory. The name of the song is “Once in a While”.
The lyrics reference science fiction and horror films of the past and list several film titles from the 1930s to the 1970s, including The Day the Earth Stood Still, Flash Gordon, The Invisible Man, King Kong, It Came from Outer Space, Doctor X, Forbidden Planet, Tarantula, The Day of the Triffids, Curse of the Demon, When Worlds Collide and The Bride of Frankenstein.
The soundtrack was released in 1975 by Ode Records and produced by Richard Hartley. The album peaked at #49 on the Billboard 200 in 1978. It reached #40 on the Australian albums chart and No. 11 on the New Zealand albums chart. The album is described as the “definitive version of the [Rocky Horror] score.
The Museum Lichtspiele cinema in Munich has shown the film every week since June 1977. They are very proud of the fact. If you happen to be in the area you can head along to the cinema to catch a screening of Rocky Horror every Friday and Saturday night at 11pm.
Meat Loaf was the only actor who could do Eddie’s song justice. Meat Loaf was brought on board for the film after appearing as both Eddie and Dr Everett Scott in the original Los Angeles stage production. Apparently O’Brien was concerned that the American singer would be unable to do Eddie’s fast-paced song ‘Hot Patootie – Bless My Soul’ justice, as the actor who played Eddie in the London stage show had struggled. There was no need to worry though – Meat Loaf nailed it, of course. Today, the film has a large international cult following and is one of the most well-known and financially successful midnight movies of all time. It was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2005.
1. Russell Crowe once appeared in an Australian stage version. Recently, some rare footage revealed a young Russell Crowe, the Oscar winning star of ‘Gladiator’ and other macho fare, performing in ‘The Rocky Horror Show’ in Australia in the dual roles of Eddie and Dr. Scott.
2. The famous floating red lips that sing the film’s opening song “Science Fiction Double Feature” were inspired by Man Ray’s 1936 painting “The Lovers” and belongs to Patricia Quinn, who played Magenta.
Patricia Quinn sang “Science Fiction Double Feature” in the original London production of The Rocky Horror Show—and she threatened to drop out of the movie when she found out O’Brien would be singing it instead.
3. Model Lorelei Shark provided the mouth on the movie’s iconic poster. You might think that Quinn’s lips were also used for the now instantly recognisable Rocky Horror promo poster, but in fact the popular ’70s model Lorelei Shark provided the sultry pout in question.
4. When Rocky Horror first opened, Meat Loaf and director Jim Sherman bought tickets for a screening in the Midwest. They were the only ones in the movie theater.
5. Princess Diana was a Rocky Horror fan! The princess requested a meeting with Tim Curry and in an interview, Curry remembers she told him with a “wicked smile” that Rocky Horror “quite completed my education.”
7. Grant Wood’s American Gothic is parodied throughout the film and reflected in items such as the pitchfork ray gun.
8. The Rocky Horror Picture Show was banned in South Africa, but not before 250,000 people saw the movie and became instant fans.
9. There was an (even more wacky) ’80s follow up featuring Brad and Janet. O’Brien and Sharman collaborated again on 1981 film Shock Treatment which – although not a direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show – featured the characters of Brad and Janet and saw the majority of the principal Rocky Horror cast return, minus Tim Curry. Although not as popular as Rocky Horror, the bonkers Shock Treatment has gained its own cult following and – in an enjoyable twist – O’Brien has decided to adapt it for the stage. The production will premiere in London this spring.
10. O’Brien wrote a direct sequel to Rocky Horror in the ’90s. The film was to be called Revenge of the Old Queen and bootleg copies of the script can be found online, but it now seems unlikely that the movie will ever be made. In the script characters directly reference The Rocky Horror Picture Show, revealing that the plot was actually a true story and aliens from the planet Transsexual in the galaxy Transylvania are actually walking among normal humans on earth.
11. You can attend various regular Rocky Horror conventions. A huge 40th anniversary celebration is coming up in September this year, but in the past conventions like El Fishnet Fiesta in Arizona have enticed thousands of Rocky Horror fans.
12. The disembodied lips are featured on posters and other merchandise for the film, with the tag line “A Different Set of Jaws”, a spoof of the poster for the film Jaws, which was also produced in 1975.
13. In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”