A (Rocky) Night of Horror

Photo (cc) Ingrid Richter and 20th Century Fox

For the cult of people out there who love the one-of-a-kind Tim Curry-fronted musical of the ’70s, prepare to be either excited or disappointed: as of tonight, it’s a little less one-of-a-kind.

Tonight on Fox, Laverne Cox (“Orange is the New Black”) will take over the role of Frank-n-Furter in a new adaptation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, which also stars Victoria Justice, Adam Lambert, Annaleigh Ashford and Tim Curry, who narrates this time around.

Cox, who is transgender, told OUT Magazine that “…in so many ways [The Rocky Horror Picture Show] was the beginning of me allowing myself to fully be.”

However, some in the trans community are worried about trans tropes being reinforced in tonight’s film.

Mari Brighe, who is a trans woman and a journalist, said this about the casting:

“With her playing the lead role, there’s a subtle but potentially very damaging conflation of crossdressers with trans women. In an era where trans people (and trans women in particular) are still consistently struggling to shed the social view that we are little more than men in dresses, the once sexually subversive Rocky Horror Picture Show becomes simply a tool for the re-entrenchment of oppressive and harmful tropes about transgender people.”

The film can be seen at at 8 p.m. tonight on Fox, or, if you’re in Boston and old enough, at club Machine’s viewing party.

Before you head out, however, it’s important to note that the reviews are in, and they aren’t as gold and shiny as the movie is.

Vulture’s Jesse Green had this to say:

“The director, Kenny Ortega, known for the High School Musical trilogy, seems to think that by mixing overbusy sequences with others that have almost no content or momentum he can achieve a nice average. That didn’t work; I found myself alternately falling asleep and squinting at the visual mess. (If you ever wondered whether you could get too much of the theatrical costuming genius William Ivey Long, the answer is yes.) And though Laverne Cox, as Frank N. Furter, brought some amusing intonations and an undeniable queer spark to the proceedings — she is transgender — most of the cast, drawn from film and television, could not sell the material, especially the songs, no matter how much electronic help was provided.”

The Guardian’s Bryan Moylan was a little lukewarm but somewhat positive.

“Faithful, fast-paced, and largely entertaining, this new Rocky Horror Picture Show is neither the calamity fans like myself were fearing nor the triumph that we were all hoping for. While some of its interpretations don’t quite hit the mark, it is still good enough to get first-time viewers pumped to see the original movie. 

I personally don’t understood why this project wasn’t done as live Halloween theater, given the recent rise in televised live musical on the broadcast networks. Since Rocky Horror started as a stage musical, it seems like it would have been a fun return-to-roots.

But we must live with what we have, which, in this case, is a possibly subpar remake of the film. So, all together, folks:

Let’s do the time warp…again.


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