What do the fans want to see in a Rocky Horror Special Edition?

If you already visited our collection of previous video releases of The Rocky Horror Picture Show , you are somewhat aware of the various features available to fans of the movie on home video. On this page, we will detail the features that have been available before and the features that the fans want to see on the future DVD release of the movie.

The first home video release with any extra features was available in 1990 in the United States. 20th Century Fox 's 15th Anniversary edition featured a prologue and a music video, as well as a brand-new stereo soundtrack. The prologue was a good primer for the uninitiated to explain what the fuss was all about. In the short (about ten minute) film, we are introduced to several fans who participate in the film, as well as the creators behind the film. The interviews appear to be taken from an early 1980s documentary shot around the time Shock Treatment was being filmed by several of the same cast and crew. The music video, placed after the film's credits, shows "The Time Warp" being performed with audience participation. The stereo soundtrack, used on almost all subsequent videos and prints, is covered in depth elsewhere on this site. 

When the film was released on laserdisc in the U.S. in 1992, "The Time Warp" music video was the only extra feature. An updated laserdisc, issued in 1995 was much more elaborate. For the first time, the movie was released in a "widescreen" version, to approximate the image from the theater screen. The capability to include alternate audio tracks was utilized to provide an "audience participation" track. The audience (made up of patrons from the Long Beach and Los Angeles theaters) was recorded in a room with headphones, so no audio from the movie is audible in the track.

At the end of side two of the disc, two alternate credit endings were presented. First was the version of the credits which featured an edit of  "The Time Warp" in place of the "Science Fiction Double Feature" reprise. The second was a "misprint" ending which resulted from cutting the audio for "Superheroes" but not the visuals. 

Sides three and four of the laserdisc contained a number of extra features. The songs "Superheroes" (originally in the film) and "Once In A While" (assembled from found footage) were included. Following these were several "outtake" sequences, basically uncut "dailies" from the film shoot. Evidently, audio recorded on-set was not available, so sound in these scenes was taken from either the isolated music & effects tracks, or from the finished film.  The sequences were as follows:

  • "The Time Warp" Alternate take 1 - a long shot of the Transylvanians covering the first chorus and Magenta's verse.
  • "The Time Warp" Alternate take 2 - a long shot of the Transylvanians from Columbia's tap dance to the end of the song.
  • Brad & Janet Undressed Takes 1-5 - various angles on the scene where Magenta and Columbia remove Brad and Janet's clothing.
  • Janet's Seduction Alternate take part 1& 2 - a slightly longer version of Frank seducing Janet, but with no original audio, we can't tell what else might have been said.
  • Floor Show Preparation Alternate takes 1&2 - a medium shot and a long shot of Frank preparing the statues at the start of the "Floor Show." Sound effects audio is present. This shot has an eding cut from the final version of the film.
Following these were two "sing-a-long" segments ("Sweet Transvestite" and "Toucha Toucha Touch Me"), with some video poorly synched to the audio from the "Sing It!" karaoke CD and subtitled lyrics. Two trailers (short and long versions) and a still gallery rounded out side three.

The fourth side was enitrely taken up with a documentary comprised of new and old footage, highlighted by extensive new interviews with director Jim Sharman and set designer Brian Thomson.

The 1998 VHS "Special Edition" versions of  Rocky Horror were made up of elements from this 1995 laserdisc.

So what's left? What could possibly be left to include on a new Special Edition of The Rocky Horror Picture Show?

Let's start with some things that, frankly, should be updated.

The full version of the film

First of all, we should once and for all get a complete, unedited version of Rocky Horror. All the U.S. video editions - unlike all new film prints and foreign reissues - do not include the song "Superheroes" intact, where it was originally placed in the film. This should be corrected in any new "special edition" release of the movie.

A corrected soundtrack

There are also several issues with the film's audio which should be addressed ( described elsewhere on this site ). Basically, it is the belief of many fans that the original mono soundtrack should be included on future releases or, if stereo sound is desired, a new mix be done to better reflect the original state of the film soundtrack. With the capabilities of the DVD format, the best-case example would be to have a new 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound mix with the mono soundtrack included as an alternate track.

A new audience participation audio track

Then there is the issue of improving upon the laserdisc's Audience Participation track. Sharpline Arts DVD producer David C. Fein has a wonderful idea how to utilize the capabilities of DVD audio to present an audience participation track:
"I think it would have been so much more enjoyable had the movie played through the audience participation track. A viewer needs to hear the film simultaneously with the participation track because audiences respond to comments made by the characters on the screen. If I were going to produce an audience participation track today, I would place the movie in front, and have the audience participation in the surround channels. So, basically, you can be sitting in the 'audience' watching the film."
There are other ways to take advantage of the features of DVD to add to the Rocky Horror experience.

Alternate audio tracks

DVDs are capable of having many alternate audio tracks.  Even if  the Rocky Horror DVD had a new 5.1 stereo mix, an original mono track and an audience participation track, there would still be room for more (Fox's Fight Club DVD will have seven audio tracks). Perhaps a music-only track or karaoke track (like the "Sing It!" CD) could be provided.

Audio commentary from the creators, cast or crew

For movie fans, audio commentary tracks are a fascinating way to learn about individual films. It is now very common for directors, producers, stars, composers and even other crew members to be recorded to present the viewer with narration that runs in tandem with the film. Criterion's This Is Spinal Tap included three such commentaries, with director Rob Reiner, the three members of Spinal Tap (Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer), and the film's producer. Fight Club will feature one track of the film's director, one track with the film's three principal stars, a third track with the writers and, lastly, a track with other crew members. For Rocky Horror, here is an incomplete list of potential participants who could provide great insight into the genesis/production/phenomenon of the film:
  • Richard O'Brien
  • Tim Curry
  • Lou Adler
  • Jim Sharman
  • Brian Thomson
  • Sue Blane
  • Richard Hartley
  • Sal Piro
  • Meat Loaf
  • Patricia Quinn
  • Little Nell
  • Jonathan Adams

Alternate angle audience participation

DVDs are also capable of showing scenes with "alternate angles." This means that the viewer can press a button during certain sequences and see scenes from a different perspective. For instance, on Universal's Mallrats, an alternate angle allows you to see the cast and crew talking during their audio commentary. For Rocky Horror, perhaps Fox could provide alternate angles of audience participation casts performing in front of the film. Some great footage of this already exists (and is usable on home video, according to the release the performers signed) because Fox taped such performances and intercut them with the debut of Rocky Horror on broadcast television.

Extra text or images in the subtitle track

The subtitle track of DVD also presents some interesting opportunities with Rocky Horror. VH-1, when airing the film, inserted notes on-screen to tell the audience when certain "props" were to be used. The DVD format could allow the viewer to choose to display these on-screen if they wish. The subtitle track has also been used to provide other unique images, such as letterbox bars (Bride of Re-Animator), silhouetted characters (Muppets In Space), and commentary participants, silhouetted a la "Mystery Science Theater 3000" (Ghostbusters ). Discs like The Abyss and Free Enterprise also presented trivia or information about the film in the subtitle track.

Extra featurettes

There are also some great pre-produced programs which might be considered for release on a DVD. A documentary about the Rocky Horror phenomenon was shot in the early '80s at the same time a spin-off film, Shock Treatment, was being produced. This hour-long TV special has never been released, but would provide some great insight into the birth of the phenomenon. One other Rocky Horror document which would be fascinating to include on DVD is an MTV Halloween special which featured Richard O'Brien - in character - introducing "videos" from the film. The segments produced for the first VHS issue of the film would also be great candidates for inclusion on DVD. There are also tons of news stories and features (15th Anniversary, VH-1 specials, etc.) done for TV over the years which would be great for potential inclusion on their own or in a documentary format.


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