The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

cult film rocky horrorDirector: Jim Sharman

Writers: Richard O’Brien (original musical play), Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien (screenplay)

In 1973, an Australian named Jim Sharman directed a musical called The Rocky Horror Show. The musical was a success and, in 1975, was made into a film that soon gathered a cult following.

Brad Majors and his fiancee Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), having just got engaged and seemingly destined to lead a very conventional life together, have a flat tyre during a thunderstorm and seek shelter in a rather eerie castle. Here they meet Dr Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), self-proclaimed ‘Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transsylvania’ and alien scientist, his servants Riff Raff and Magenta (Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn), groupie Columbia (Nell Campbell) and a host of other odd and interesting characters. Frank N. Furter has created a ‘muscle man’ and, to applause from his guests and servants and to Brad’s and Janet’s dismay, brings to life the ‘beautiful creature’, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). This is followed by a violent intermezzo with Frank’s and Columbia’s former lover Eddie (Meat Loaf), a wedding between Frank and Rocky, a large amount of seduction, a bizarre floorshow and extra-terrestrial encounters.

The film is a parody of old horror and sci-fi films replete with all the stock ingredients – mad scientists, spooky castles, aliens, sex, gore, romance – with catchy music and remarkable costumes thrown in. It shows reckless abandon, decadent danger and carnal enjoyment, contrasted beautifully by Janet and Brad’s polite, repressed behaviour. Playing with identities and gender roles, and with the idea of taking risks and letting go, it brought together people who liked to do something different and not follow the rules. ‘Don’t Dream It, Be It’, as the song goes. Costume designer Sue Blane claimed that the musical, with its ripped fishnet stockings, glitter and dyed hair, influenced the punk movement, and we’re inclined to agree. Provocative, camp and funny, it still rocks today.

Singalong now!

SL-R

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Nobody Does It Better – The Cult Film Crazy James Bond Quiz

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Here’s a new quiz to excite and delight you all featuring your favourite James Bond escapades. 1 point for each correct answer!:

  1. Scaramanga was played by which sadly now departed actor?
  2. What was the character’s unusual feature?
  3. A Goldeneye is a type of which creature?
  4. What was the name of the huge henchman with large metallic teeth in Moonraker?
  5. Name the Bond girl who comes out of the water in Dr No?
  6. Which Bond flick features voodoo activity?
  7. In which James Bond movie does Bond get embroiled in a fracas with a South American drug cartel led by Franz Sanchez?
  8. Odd Job was the brilliantly evil sidekick with a deadly spinning hat in which movie?
  9. Who played Bond’s nemesis Blofeld? (1 point for each!)
  10. Name as many actors as you can who’ve played James Bond. (1 point for each!)

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Rushmore (1998)

Director – Wes Anderson

Writers – Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson

What can you say about this film to the uninitiated? Expect pathos, is one thing. Expect offbeat humour is another. It hits high on the quirk-o-meter throughout. The subject matter is nothing new – two suitors fighting over an elusive love interest – but the set up – an older industrialist named Herman Blume (the immaculate Bill Murray) who has two sons at the Rushmore private school, pitted against plucky precocious pupil Max Fischer(Jason Schwarzman) – is. The teacher in question is Miss Rosemary Cross (a delectable Olivia Williams), who is flattered yet confused by the two suitors’ advances. Dr Nelson Guggenheim (the splendid Brian Cox) heaves his imposing, hefty presence into view to keep things in order.

What Wes Anderson weaves is a consummate masterpiece of understated comedy. Each scene has shimmering moments of deft humour, leading up to a suitably unsuitable finale that ties everything up and leaves you with a fuzzy, satisfied feeling that all is well with the world, and you’ve just been part of something special.

TL-R

The Bed-Sitting Room (1969)

Director – Richard Lester

Writer – Spike Milligan, Charles Wood and John Antrobus

If you’re looking for odd movies, you’ve come to the right place. This film is in a class of its own. In fact, if it was in school, it would probably be in detention, or even expelled for insubordinate behaviour! ‘Post-Apocalyptic Surrealist Nightmare’ is a start to describing what it features, but doesn’t do it enough justice at all. This is an illumination of the darkest recesses of Spike Milligan’s 20th Century-addled mind. It gives us a disturbing view of a world after the nuclear Holocaust, with a very British take on it, in that people attempt to return to their dull daily routines. It is quite believeable in its absurdity. Heading the cast is the ever-watchable Arthur Lowe, depicting what could be considered as what Captain Mainwaring would do after nuclear Armageddon. He would maintain decorum and a stiff upper lip, of course, despite the wreckage and carnage around him, and despite any kind of common sense.

The radiation has caused strange mutations to occur, including a reference to the titular bedsitting room itself, with some bizarrely brilliant scenes, imagery and jokes that deliniate Spike’s sheer comic genius through and through, alongside his total insanity, or perhaps ultra-sanity, in his exasperation and disbelief at the everyday insanity that regular people possess in being able to ignore the devastation and problems around them. Enjoy the show! It’s a very harrowing laughter in the darkness, but what else can you do in the face of absolute nuclear annhialation?

TL-R

The Birds (1963)

Director – Alfred Hitchcock

Writers – Daphne du Maurier (original story), Evan Hunter (screenplay)

Alfred Hitchcock, it is known, was not always very kind to the women in his life; The Birds could well be seen as a commentary on that issue.

It almost feels as if the real birds in the film are a manifestation of the state of mind of the female characters within it. The shreiking hysteria that erupts as a swarm of canaries squawk down a chimney and out of the fireplace (perhaps some kind of symbolic opening or another) is echoed by the women who squeal in fright and despair as the birds flock around them, clouding their views. This is not an outlook that I share, but it is a perception of the content of the film.

The birds slowly congregate at a children’s playground, a place also often frequented by women. The male lead, Rod Taylor, is frightened and cautious when he passes, taunted by the calls and cries of the birds. Perhaps it is a rise in feminism itself that underpins the film? The male figures do not seem to like it very much when the women speak out, but instead feel attacked and trapped by the shrill calls. To suppose that Hitchcock is criticising women because of this does not take into account that he could also be sympathetic to their cause. His female lead, Tippi Hedren, of course, was adored by him, and a they step carefully around the caustic cawing crows, they creep around the very concept of women’s liberty, but also maintaining a social order and sense of gender roles. Nature itself is responding to the imbalance that industrialisation has imposed upon it, and it is clear that if you push too hard, the opposing side will push back. Tread carefully, and don’t get your feathers in a flap.

TL-R

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

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Director – Stanley Kubrick

Writers – Terry Southern, Peter George, Stanley Kubrick

For me, Peter Sellers is the best British comic actor of all time. Chaplain was perhaps more charming and elegant, Rowan Atkinson perhaps more dexterous and refined, but Sellers has a versatility and brio that is unrivalled. In Dr. Strangelove, he manages to show us just how brilliant he is by playing three vastly different roles. He doesn’t rub his performance in our faces, showing off with wild abandon as some would, he just does it subtly downbeat and straight. As the effete British officer Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, Sellars gives a charming performance, having to think and act quickly and rationally in a bid to avert global disaster. As the US President Merkin Muffley, he asserts natural leadership qualities, giving a conscientious performance full of presense. (If only real presidents were this noble, but I suppose that’s the point. This is a satire, after all!)

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Dr. Strangelove himself is Sellars’ piece de resistance, or not, as a resistance is probably the last thing that Stranglove would agree with. Clouseau was an iconic film character, but his cheeky, confused persona are dwarfed in movie history by the imprint of Strangelove. The film is named after him, predominantly, after all, with the added title ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’. This is Mutually Assured Destruction at its most scabrous and scathing. See it before the world goes up in flames!

TL-R

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989)

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Director – Stephen Herek

Writers – Chris Matheson, Ed Solomon

Ever wondered what various famous historical figures would make of our world today? Well, wonder no longer, as Bill S. Preston Esquire (Alex Winter) and Ted ‘Theodore’ Logan (Keanu Reeves) take you on an excellent adventure (it must be, because it says so in the title, and in this case it’s actually true!) into the world’s past to help them pass their history report set by Mr Ryan (Bernie Casey), to appease Ted’s drill sergeant of a police officer dad (Hal Landon Jr.) in order for him not to send Ted to military academy, ultimately bringing balance to the universe (or something). The Wyld Stallyns (that’s their dysfunctional band name) take to the tubes of history with the nimble assistance of Rufus (the inimitably cool George Carlin) and whirl through the time eddies bumping into Napoleon Bonaparte (Terry Camileri), Joan of Arc (Jane Wiedlin), Billy the Kid (Dan Shor), Sigmund Freud (Rod Loomis), Socrates (Tony Steedman), ‘Bob’ Genghis Khan (Al Leong) and Abraham Lincoln (Robert V. Barron), to name but a few famous historical personages. It’s a whole heap of nonsense, but an incredibly enjoyable popcorn romp.

Party on, dudes!

T-LR

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