Rocky Horror Remake Dazzles With Surprising Casting Choices

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The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS,) which originally aired in London in 1975, is a cult classic film, loved by many and celebrated in midnight showings all over the world.

The hallmark of Rocky Horror isn’t its content, because, as most fans will agree, it’s not actually that good. The real value of RHPS is its devoted fans who yell callouts and throw props during certain parts of the film.

“I would like… to take you on a strange journey,” says Charles Gray, who played the criminologist in the original movie.

“How strange was it?” yells the audience in response.

This wild movie is held near and dear to the hearts of millions of hardcore fans who dress up and go all out to see the show. Moviegoers often wear costumes from the show, or simply dress in crazy clothing and make a scene.

Particularly notable was the casting. To the surprise of many fans, the (anti) hero of the film, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, originally played by Tim Curry, was played by a woman, Laverne Cox.”

The world loves Rocky Horror for its many peculiarities, which is why when FOX announced that they would be airing a television remake in 2016, many fans were extremely skeptical.

Still, nearly five million tuned in to watch on Thursday, Oct. 20, as the new cast brought the old characters to life.

The night it aired, many devoted Cleveland fans went to the Cedar Lee Theater, which for years has been showing the original once a month, to watch the live showing in solidarity, many with low expectations, and many with no idea what to expect.

My friends and I, being the frequent Rocky attendees that we are, arrived an hour before doors opened to ensure good seats for the movie. I admit to having been a little cynical about how FOX would handle my precious, let’s-just-say-liberal film, but I was more than pleasantly surprised.

FOX’s adaptation was more than just a remake. It was a tribute to the fans who have been loving the movie for decades.

They also nodded to the original with the inclusion of a “live audience” that yelled call-outs occasionally. This aspect was interesting, but superfluous to the plot, which is really saying something, because this movie has basically no plot whatsoever.”

Particularly notable was the casting. To the surprise of many fans, the (anti) hero of the film, Dr. Frank-N-Furter, originally played by Tim Curry, was played by a woman, Laverne Cox. In an Out magazine interview, Adam Lambert (Eddie) explains that he turned down the role of Frank because the “sweet transvestite” role belongs to a transgender woman, not a man. The Orange is the New Black actress turned out to be an incredible choice for the role. Cox’s chemistry with the other members of the cast brought a lot of energy to the role.

Other incredible casting choices included Ryan McCartan as Brad Majors, who brought a hilarious and quirky element to the role, and Victoria Justice, known for her wholesome career on Nickelodeon, who took Susan Sarandon’s place as Janet Weiss– a surprisingly risque part that she stepped into flawlessly. Each actor brought a particularly unique aspect to the table, maintaining the celebrated traditions while making the characters their own.

As a tribute to the original movie, The Criminologist was played by the iconic former Frank-N-Furter, Tim Curry, who was welcomed back by the community with open arms. They also nodded to the original with the inclusion of a “live audience” that yelled call-outs occasionally. This aspect was interesting, but superfluous to the plot, which is really saying something, because this movie has basically no plot whatsoever.

FOX made an excellent decision in making the movie somewhat of a parody of itself. The comic quality of the remake made it entertaining to watch even without the callouts. While the original movie is funny, a lot of the comedy seems to be unintentional– more absurd than actually humorous. For example, FOX mocked the original film with incredibly exaggerated acting.

Many fans of the original are cranky because the remake is quite different from their longtime favorite, but those who expected a line-by-line recreation were setting themselves up for disappointment. Though it does stray quite a bit from the 1975 film, FOX’s production is an excellent remake, and I encourage everyone to watch it with an open mind. That is, of course,  after you see the first one.