Story: Recently engaged couple Brad (ASSHOLE!) and Janet (SLUT!) head to Frank N. Furter’s castle after their car breaks down. The Doctor is in…and working on a new project. C’mon up to the lab, and see what’s on the slab.
Scares: Musical. Camp musical. So? None.
Splat factor: Ditto. Add that this is a network TV production, and even the dinner scene is bloodless.
Closing scene “shocker”?: Nup, but there’s a nice little post-credit scene with the incredibly talented Ivy Levan as Trixie the Usherette.
Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Based on the stage play, and of course the 1975 film.
Trick or Treat?: Okay, I’ll start with this; as excited as I am to see Laverne Cox in anything, I worried about the whole “transvestite” thing that RHPS has going on. But luckily, it’s all thought of as a throwback, and used as a sort of homage to this stories original time period.
So, was this remake any good? In fact, it is. I’ll go so far as to say that this is a better “sit and watch” version than the 1975 film. Maybe because the production values are better, possibly because the camerawork puts more into the frame so there’s always something to see…or maybe it’s just that director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical) is used to shooting musicals for television, so the “visual experience” of RHPS Time Warp is more fun on the small screen than the original film.
While RHPS is tailor made for a big screen, theatrical experience, where there’s callouts from a packed house, RHPS Time Warp feels like a perfect way to have a little fun while jamming on your sofa. There are callouts here and there in this remake, reminding viewers of the fun you can have in the theater. But this production is more for folks who don’t mind letting the extreme fabulousness wash over them like a glitter explosion. Costuming, set design, and even the props all speak to making RHPS Time Warp an experience you don’t need watch with a group to enjoy. (Though don’t let that stop you from rounding up the troops if you’re up for it.)
Part of that is thanks to stellar performances by Lavern Cox as Frank, and her impressive vocal range and emotional heft. She’s got serious chops, and doesn’t mind getting campy as hell when the scene calls for it. (And this story always calls for it.) Tunes like “Sweet Transvestite”, “I Can Make You A Man”, are definite showstoppers, and “I’m Going Home” has the right touch of over-the-top swan song and genuine emotion to serve as a lovely climax (ahem) to the story. But my favorite was Adam Lambert as Eddie; “Hot Patootie” was a rock-n-roll good time, and the ensemble choreography lent an immediacy to the scene, pulling me in.
It was good to see Tim Curry as the Narrator/Criminologist, and he’s used go great effect here. While the lingering effects of his stroke keep him in a wheelchair, his spark of mischief hasn’t dimmed. Ben Vereen, as Doctor Scott (GREAT SCOTT!) is a master of the musical, and he’s amazing in a role that’s often given short shrift in stage productions. Plus, he’s still got some serious gams.
Sure, RHPS ain’t high art. It’s high camp. But while this remake won’t knock the original off its pedestal, what could? Enjoy RHPS Time Warp in the spirit in which it was intended; a glorious, glittery, bundle of fun.
Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.