Jim Sharman
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Jim Sharman is known exclusively for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the film he directed in 1974.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show is, first and foremost, the greatest cult film of all time, something that transcends cinema and art.
Second, it is a funny parody of 1950's sci-fi/horror B-movies and of Broadway musicals.
Third, it is a semiotic film. Each scene represents something at different levels, literal, parodistic and allegoric.
The parade of monsters is a parade of cliches, but each cliche` could well be out of Homer or Shakespeare.
The "Rocky Horror Show" started at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in London on June the 16th of 1973 and it was mildly successful. Most of the original stage cast was used for the film.

Bright red lips open the film with a tender song about science fiction. The story is told by an obnoxious narrator in his library. The entire action occurs on a saturday night after fiances Brad and Janet, returning from a wedding (where Janet caught the bouquet and Brad proposed, observed from the steps of the church by a disturbing old man), are stuck in the middle of nowhere because their car broke down. They see a light and it turns out to be a macabre mansion. The butler who opens the door is the same old man who was watching them at the church. His name is Riff Raff and he warns them that they arrived on a special occasion. They are also welcome by the wild maid Magenta, who slides down the bannister in a vulgar and sexy manner. Riff Raff and Magenta are siblings and they revel in their perversion. Brad and Janet are ushered into the party and meet the crowd of Transylvanian monsters. They meet Columbia, the lascivious master's girlfriend. Finally, the master himself appears, descending from an elevator: Frank N Furter. Brad and Janet are shocked to see that he is a disgusting transvestite, wearing fishnet stockings and wrapped in a corset, his face heavily made up. Frank insists that the two shy guests stay for the night. He proudly shows them the laboratory where he, novel Frankenstein, is manufacturing life itself; but, with a twist: he is creating the perfect mate for a tranvestite, a handsome, tall, strong blonde man, whom he christened Rocky. The experiment succeeds but Rocky is fearful of his master, who can't wait to taste his creature, and of the strangers. who stare at him. Rocky elopes and the servants have to chase him around the castle.
The party is ruined by the punk Eddie, who literally crashes into the room on his motorbike. Columbia adores him and does not hide her feelings, but Frank hates him because Eddie resisted his advances (Eddie's macho vitality, rock and roll ardor and sexual escapades, are pretty much the opposite of Frank's feminine languor). Rocky was created by taking half of Eddie's brain, and Eddie's scars are still clearly visible. Eddie is rallying the crowd around his ideal of life, and Frank has no choice but kill him with a pick.
Rocky elopes and is being chased by the servants. In the middle of the night Frank seduces first Janet and then Brad by creeping into their beds disguised as, respectively, Brad and Janet. Both are first reluctant but then enjoy what Frank teaches them. Janet sees Frank and Brad making love on a monitor, and, revengeful, soothes Rocky, whom she accidentally finds, and makes love to him. Columbia and Magenta are watching everything on another monitor, while they are also having sex.
Another guest arrives uninvited, on wheelcheer: the respectable Dr Scott, an acquaintance of Brad, who also happens to be Eddie's uncle. Frank pulls him into the main room by using powerful magnets that draw Dr Scott's wheelchair up and down the staircases and the corridors. When he lands in front of Frank and meets (surprised) Brad, Janet and Rocky jump out of the bed where they have been making love. Everybody is surprised of everybody else. Dr Scott is suspicious of Frank. Frank cordially invites everybody to dinner. Dr Scott sings the sad story of Eddie, while Columbia cries. Everybody sympathizes with Eddie's disadventure and sings along. Frank, furious, pulls the table cloth and reveals the disembodied corpse of Eddie: the meat loaf they are eating is Eddie's flesh.
Columbia screams and leaves. Everybody runs. Frank chases Janet around the house. Eventually Frank corners Janet, Brad and Dr Scott in the lab, and sends them one by one to another planet by pulling the lever of a prodigious machine. Columbia comes screaming against him, and Frank removes her too.
They all meet on the other planet, except that they have all assumed new personas: they are now all perverts and tranvestites. The planet works like a stage, where they perform a play. Each of them sings about her or his new self. The star of the show is Frank, whose number is performed against the backdrop of the RKO Radio Tower. They all jump in the swimming pool and they have an orgy.
Suddenly, Riff Raff and Magenta appear. They also changed: they are warriors armed with laser weapons. Riff Raff reveals he is the commander and wants to return to their home planet, Transylvania, with Magenta. They condemn Frank as a traitor. Frank has his last chance to be forgiven: he sings a heartbreaking song about his love for the Earth. Frank sees the theatre full of people giving him a standing ovation, but it is only an illusion: the theater is empty. Riff Raff shoots Frank with the laser while he is climbing the tower and Frank falls in the swimming pool.
Riff Raff and Magenta celebrate their victory. The guests are expelled from the castle, which then takes off in a cloud and disappears in the sky.
The narrator concludes the story.

The music by Richard Hartley & Richard O'Brien, that paraphrased David Bowie and hard-rock, Broadway show tunes and Elvis Presley was certainly important in creating a sensation. But much more was to happen.
It all started on September the 24th of 1975. The film opened in the student area of Los Angeles' Westwood Village, next to UCLA. The film will fail to attract notice anywhere else, but at Westwood Village crowds kept going back night after night for repeated viewing.
Word of mouth eventually gave the film its cult status. It started with people singing along with the songs and then calling out "2-4-6-8-10-12-14-eat your heart out". Then they started dancing in the aisles the ballet of the monsters. Then they started dressing like the characters. Then they started talking to them on the screen. Then unprofessional actors from the audience started performing the action of the film on stage (and off stage, running around the theatre). Then the audience started throwing objects at the screen, like toitel paper and rice.
Not only the audience kept growing steadily, but it began developing a subliminal attraction to the film, it began to identify with its characters.
There was something epic in the way the film took over its own audience, like it had a life of its own. The barriers between audience and screen broke down spontaneously, and everywhere, as if it was mandated in the plot. But it was only a natural reaction to something in the film that made it so personal and universal.
Soon the film became three shows in one: the film itself, which is a decadent, parodistic musical, the stage action that mirrored the film, and the script shouted in unison by the audience.
There was something epic in the way the film mutated from underground cult into mass phenomenon. Hundreds of theaters across the country (and, eventually, all over the world) started showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show at exactly midnight every saturday of every week, no matter what.
Larger and larger crowds of teenagers would go out at midnight, dressed in lingerie, and haunt the streets around the theatres showing the movie. The script was passed on from generation to generation of active viewers.
By the end of 1977, Rocky Horror Picture Show had mutated into the largest party on Earth.
As Rocky says in the key and most moving scene of the film, "Don't Dream It, Be It".
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )