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Review On Rocky Horror Picture Show 25th Anniversary Edition...

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Review On Rocky Horror Picture Show 25th Anniversary Edition...

Old 09-28-00, 12:18 AM
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Packaging

The DVDs come in a cardboard slip case (a la Fight Club), but unlike Fight Club, the cardboard has a glossy finish.

Inside the case is full-color artwork with quotes from the film. My understanding is that there will be full-color artwork on the discs themselves also, but as this is a test disc, there was no artwork on either of the discs. There will be an update in this review as soon as I get the final version.

A full-color booklet is also part of the set, but was not provided in this test disc version. As soon as I get the full version, look for an update in this review.

Disc 1

So I pop in disc 1, and the usual FBI warning comes up. Then comes a promo for Fox movies on DVD. The promo lasts a minute or two, and has clips from Fight Club, Me, Myself & Irene, There's Something About Mary, Speed, X-Men, etc. It's a fun promo, and is in full Dolby 5.1 . Of course, after the first time, you probably won't want to see it again, so they are all easily skippable with one push of your remote's skip button.

Then a menu pops up with the "Enter At Your Own Risk" sign, asking you if you want the US Version or the UK Version (the UK Version includes the song "Superheroes"). There's a third selection that just says "I'm frightened". The folks at 1K Studios must have had a lot of fun with the menu design. I chose "I'm frightened", and was whisked away... back to the FBI warning! This is a very silly disc with lots of tiny surprises in the menus.

I get back, choose the UK Version, and an treated to a pair of lips (in a pretty good imitation of Tim Curry's voice) talking about the thrills and chills of RHPS. The lips move to the corner of the screen, and the main menu comes up.

The main menu is great. Songs from the film play in the background, and every so often, the lips will talk, saying "Everything is in readiness, we merely await your selection." There is also a pair of legs at the bottom of the screen. The legs walk, kick, and dance... I just watched the menu for a while because it was so neat. All of the menus on disc 1 have the theme of the laboratory. There are lots of different buttons to press and switches to pull, for the many special features on the disc. The one problem I have, though, is that with all the animations and menu transitions, it's tough to choose most of the menu options quickly. But I'm just nitpicking here.

The main menu is also where you can find the hidden "Easter egg" that lets you see RHPS in B&W and then switches to color during the "Time Warp" (just as the Transylvanians sing for the first time). The "seamless branching" feature then switches back to the rest of the film as you would normally see it (with or without "Superheroes", whichever one you chose). Just go to the bottom of the menu at "scene selection", then press left with your remote. A pair of lips will appear, and will bring you to a short description of what you are about to see, and also an option for a page of DVD Credits.

When the film starts, the famous THX logo comes on the screen in Dolby 5.1 . Then it was on to the movie.

Video

So how does the picture look? "It's astounding". The print used for the transfer is quite clean, and is amazing for a film of this age. Shadow and color detail are nearly flawless. There is the occasional speck of dust, and some jitter in a few scenes, but never anything that distracts you from the movie. The picture is full of vibrant colors that jump out of the screen. In my opinion, it looks better than any previous video release of RHPS, including Laserdisc. There is a slight bit of edge enhancement, but it is barely noticeable. Some scenes have a soft picture, but those are the scenes that look soft in the film anyway. Some scenes have slightly-off black level, but again, it is due to the quality of the film.

The new 1.66:1 transfer was down-converted from a high-definition source, and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. The framing of the action on screen looks great. The image is window-boxed, meaning that to get the image into DVD's 1.78:1 frame, they shrink it down, and leave small black bars on either side of the screen. Don't worry, though, this is NOT distracting. On most TVs, you won't see those bars anyway. I did an A/B comparison of the framing with previous video and LD versions, and this version has a lot more picture information on either side of the screen. It's wonderful to be able to see more of the Criminologist's globe, more Transylvanians dancing, etc.

Subtitles are available in English and Spanish, as well as an Audience Participation subtitle that tells you what to do and what to throw during the film (a-la VH1 and the '90 Fox special).

A side note: The "seamless branching" feature of the disc, in all the film's versions, looks flawless on my Sony DVP-S560 player. Other players might experience a slight pause between some scenes, but for most players, there won't even be a pause.

Audio

One pet peeve of RHPS fans was the debate over the original mono soundtrack. In 1990, Lou Adler/Fox made a new stereo version that was plagued with problems. This frustrated many fans (myself included).

However, for the DVD, Lou/Fox decided to go back to the original mono audio stems to create a discrete 5.1 sound mix. The results are amazing. The folks at Chace Productions have done a great job. There are subtle front and rear effects, like birds chirping, lightning, etc. You will hear voices coming out of the left or right front, corresponding with its place on screen. Every so often, there is subwoofer action, but don't expect Terminator 2 here. It's a very good mix considering the limitations of the source material.

The music is wonderful in this mix. All the vocals are from the original mono version, with main vocals coming out of the center speaker, and all sound effects intact. Gone are the vocals from the stereo releases. The instruments sound amazingly clear, and are spread nicely across the front soundstage. I warn you though, this mix sounds different than any other mix of Rocky. Some arrangements might sound slightly lacking at times, but I think this is because the audio engineers wanted to stay true to the spirit of the original mono mix. Sometimes it's tough to hear certain sound effects. It doesn't mean they're not there, they're just quiet in comparison to the music. There is a reverb effect in the surround channels for the music. Even the incidental and other music in the film has been remixed. The .1 LFE channel is quite active during most of the music. One extra note: During the end credits, the 5.1 version does NOT have the different, instrumental version of the "Time Warp" found in the original mix. Instead, there is a shortened instrumental version of the regular "Time Warp" (without even any background vocals) in full 5.1 . Don't fret, though, the original version is still on the mono track.

I can almost guarantee though, that some of you will not like the 5.1 mix. Well, mono purists rejoice! The original mono mix is also included on the disc in 2.0 , and is relatively clear, and dialog is intelligible. You can hear all the wonderful little nuances in the track.

The Dolby 5.1 audio is encoded at 448kbps, and the rest of the tracks are 192 kbps.

Special Features

First off is a 2.0 surround commentary track with the original play and film's creator (and Riff Raff) Richard O'Brien, and "Magenta" Patricia Quinn. The track was recorded in England this year, and is fun to listen to. They talk about their characters, extras and Transylvanians, stories of yesteryear, fans, etc. It's pretty informative, but still has a lot of funny bits too... It's always fun to hear two RHPS cast members being goofy and having fun.

Next up is the audience participation track from the 1995 Laserdisc, this time presented with a 2.0 surround mix down of the 5.1 sound, and the participation mixed into the surround channels. The audience still for the most part is monophonic though, sometimes dialog is unintelligible, but when you can hear it, it's damn funny. A quick note: Since this track is from the 1995 LD, there is no participation during "Superheroes". It just fades out during that part, and comes back at the end. And since the audience participation track was from an audience seeing a print with "Time Warp" instead of the "Science Fiction / Double Feature" reprise, but the movie audio has "Science Fiction / Double Feature", you hear the audience singing the wrong song at the end! A little weird, but funny in a way.

Another selectable feature entitled "The Theatrical Experience" gives you the chance to see different casts perform RHPS in a theatre. If you select this option, the film starts with a video introduction at the Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, with fan club president Sal Piro. During certain points in the film, A pair of on-screen lips appears, and pressing Enter on your DVD remote takes you to a clip of a performance. Most of the clips were videotaped this year at the Tower Theatre. Others look like they were taped circa 1980. Needless to say the clips vary in quality. During the clips, you see the cast, the audience, and Lou Adler in the audience. I have one gripe though: The cameraman for these segments must have been on crack, because he spent half the time pointing the camera at other cameramen! And if there were other cameras, why don't we see anything from these angles? I'm just nitpicking, though. Anyway, when the segment is done, you are dropped back into the film, right where you left off. It's a fun feature that lets "virgins" see a little bit of the Rocky phenomenon.

DVD-ROM

The DVD-ROM feature on the disc comes with the standard PC Friendly software (sorry, it won't work on a Mac). Once installed, you have a big bunch of choices...

There is a "Masochistic Trivia Challenge" game that I found quite entertaining. I think they call it masochistic because the questions never end, and there's no scorekeeping. It's still worth it to play just to read the trivia questions.

On to "Riff Raff's Story Lab", another game which is basically Mad Libs (remember those?) with 3 different Rocky-related stories. I had a lot of fun and got a case of the giggles playing it.

There are cast and crew bios for all of the main cast members, although they spelled Richard O'Brien's name wrong in his bio, as O'Brian. Can't have everything, can we?

There are Web links to various official Rocky Horror sites, and Fox. "Rocky Horror Jukebox" just takes you right to the songs in the film, if your PC plays DVD-Video. They left out "Science Fiction/Double Feature" and its reprise at the end though. Weird. There's a PC Friendly Web browser, and a custom DVD player with a cute "floorshow stage" frame. There's also an RHPS screensaver, that once installed, has quotes from the film.

There's also a Rocky Horror Timeline, which just has various RHPS milestones.

Last but not least, an guide to audience participation is included. It's basically a guide that tells "virgins" what to do and when.

...And that's just disc 1!!! (whew!)

Disc 2

Disc 2's menus take a different approach than disc 1. All the menus are static, making it easier to navigate and get to features. The menus have some great photos from the film. The main menu is a photo of the throne scene. Here's a rundown of the features on this disc, in no particular order:

All of the deleted scenes (Time Warp, Brad and Janet Undressed, Janet's Seduction, Floor Show Preparations) from the 1995 Laserdisc are included via the "Outtakes" menu. They are just the same as the LD, with the exception of that silly slate gone from the beginning of each segment.

Deleted scenes "Superheroes" and Brad's song "Once In A While", also from the LD, are here, although to me it was kind of silly to have "Superheroes" on disc 1 and disc 2.

The more upbeat "Time Warp" ending is included, as well as the fabled "misprint" ending. The "misprint ending" has the video of a reel with "Superheroes", and the audio of a reel without the song.

The cheesy "sing-a-long" with "Touch-a Touch-a Touch Me" and "Sweet Transvestite" are here, with the main vocals missing, and on-screen lyrics to, well, sing along. They're in the same poor quality as on the 1995 LD. I think they should've left these off the disc, but they're here for completists.

The 1995 36-minute documentary "Rocky Horror Double Feature Video Show" is included, with great interviews with a lot of the film's stars, director Jim Sharman, producer Lou Adler, set designer Brian Thomson, and many others. It's wonderfully informative, and follows the history of Rocky, from play to movie, from bomb to cult favorite. I wish they included some kind of chapter stops in this segment though.

A photo gallery is also included. This is the same photo gallery as from the 1995 LD.

The two original theatrical trailers are included in full frame.

Rocky on VH1

The Rocky on VH1 section is a really fun and brand new segment on the DVD. When you go to that menu, you get a choice of either "Excerpts from Behind The Music and Where Are They Now?" or "'Hot Patootie' on Pop-Up Video".

The excerpts aren't just pieces of the show. They're entire 10-15 minute slices of simple interviews, without music, and with the film's stars. You get to hear Susan Sarandon talk about her pneumonia, Barry Bostwick saying "*******" without them bleeping it out, Meatloaf talking about his difficulties with stunts on-set, Richard O'Brien playing "Eddie's Teddy" in the Oakley Court hotel, and many more! These segments alone are worth buying the disc.

"Hot Patootie" on Pop-Up Video is just that. It's a segment right from the show, complete with "just-back from a commercial" intro, and complete show credits. The sharp "pops" playing on top of that horrible old transfer of RHPS show the contrast between old and new quite strangely. It's also fun reading about all of Meat Loaf's bumps on the noggin.

Final Comments

This disc is a treat from Fox, for both hardcore Rocky fans and "virgins" alike. With a plethora of great features, the great new sound and original mono sound, and stellar picture, I highly recommend picking this one up. It's definitely a keeper!


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Old 09-28-00, 12:39 AM
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My apologies as I have seen now in a re-read of potential SPOILERS HERE. Hopfully, nothing has been ruined and those who enjoy the elemant of surprise when the first pop their new DVD into the machine will NOT bave read this review...

adios,

QJ
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Old 09-28-00, 03:43 AM
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Great Review! Had read somewhere this was going to be a relly jam packed DVD. This is a funny movie, glad to see they have done a great job on it! Thanks!
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Old 09-28-00, 09:43 AM
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Man, this is going to be a killer disc!



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Old 09-28-00, 09:54 AM
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Where was this disk for the 5 years I directed a local Rocky cast and the 8 before that I was just a member?

You have no idea how bad this movie looked on a 4th generation copy of the movie with Japanese subtitles. But, hey, we needed something to study our parts from.

I almost bought a laserdisk player when the laserdisk came out just for this movie and the ability to skip to scenes and not have it wear out after a month of watching the same one scene over and over.

But now it's on DVD and a kick arse one at that.
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Old 09-28-00, 12:07 PM
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Can't wait to get this DVD.


....It's just a jump to the left.....
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Old 09-28-00, 01:00 PM
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I picked mine up at a major retailer last night -- these are two awesome discs! (I'd like to thank the maroon who put them out early )

A note about the packaging -- it's the same slipcase style as "Walking with Dinosaurs".
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Old 09-28-00, 01:18 PM
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Moving to Reviews forum.

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Old 09-29-00, 01:40 AM
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I just preordered my copy from buy.com, here's hoping it comes early. This is probably my most anticipated disc of the year.

------------------
"Your brother." "You're... you're looking for my brother? I don't know where he is. He wanted to stay with me, but I told him..." "8 hours, your brother, $15,000." "$15,000, my brother, 8 hours. Well, but if..." "Your brother..." "...my brother..." "$15,000, 8 hours." "Yeah, okay, but if I can't find my brother, can I give you the $15,000? Do you still need my brother, or...?" "8 hours, your brother, $15,000." "All three of those things?" "Correct." "All three?" "Correct."
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Old 10-02-00, 04:08 PM
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Got my Disc today! Man, is it a wonderful disc.The Stereo Remix is finally worthy of the original mono. The menus are fun. One of the best discs I've seen in a while.
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Old 10-04-00, 06:37 PM
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Great review, QSJ!

I wasn't planning on getting this disk, but you've changed my mind. This sounds like a whole lot of fun!
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Old 10-05-00, 12:31 PM
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This is a nice set. BTW, isn't that close-up of Tim Curry on the inside case one of the scariest pictures? Freaks me out.
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Old 10-07-00, 08:27 PM
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Just got done watching this. Loved what FOX did with the movie. The audience participation track was at time tough to really hear, so many people just scream what they wanted. I remember back when....There was a script that everybody stuck to, with a couple of local variations. I think it's still on RHPS's website.

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Old 10-07-00, 08:52 PM
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Alright, I order this disc from buy.com before it was released. Release day rolls around, and it hasn't shipped. Then it gets put on backorder! And buy.com tells me they don't know when they'll get more in. So I just canceled it and went out and bought the damn thing. It cost more, but it was worth it. I LOVE this disc! I haven't gone through all of it, but what I have seen is great, and the new sound mix blows me away.

------------------
"Your brother." "You're... you're looking for my brother? I don't know where he is. He wanted to stay with me, but I told him..." "8 hours, your brother, $15,000." "$15,000, my brother, 8 hours. Well, but if..." "Your brother..." "...my brother..." "$15,000, 8 hours." "Yeah, okay, but if I can't find my brother, can I give you the $15,000? Do you still need my brother, or...?" "8 hours, your brother, $15,000." "All three of those things?" "Correct." "All three?" "Correct."
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Old 10-10-00, 08:16 PM
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Hi,

I was wondering if anyone knows if there is a "subtitle" for the audience participation track. When I flip thru the dvd I see there are 5 subtitle tracks but tracks 4 and 5 don't really seem to do much more than tell me when to throw rice. Any insight? I would love to know what the audience is saying as that is half the movie. Any help is appreciated.

steve
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