Tuesday 6 January 2015

Review: Shock Treatment (#CrapSequels)

World of Blackout: CRAP SEQUEL SEASON!

flms. srs bsns. We've all been there; Browsing in Blockbuster, the HMV sale or the bargain-DVD section in Sainsbury's, and we come across a plastic case which gives us an involuntary tingle of excitement. Someone's made a sequel to that movie we like! How did this slip under our radar? Why wasn't this on at our local cinema? Why are we only hearing about this now? Well, there's only one way to answer that question; it involves spending the requisite £3 and usually ends with the question 'Why did this get made, never mind how?'.

The rules for selection are as follows: 1) The film needs to be a poorly received sequel to a generally successful film (so no crap sequels to crap originals, and no crap remakes of originals), 2) Films from longer series are fine, but the choice needs to be part two of that line, 3) I'm not intending to watch any of the associated part-ones as part of this run (whether I'm familiar with them or not), so there'll be extra pressure on the crap sequel to work on its own terms. So join me as I delve into some of the crappest, most unwarranted follow-ups of all time (hopefully with a couple of underrated, misunderstood gems thrown in).

How bad can it be, right? I mean, the original was good…

CRAP SEQUELS! Shock Treatment.

#CrapSequels: Shock Treatment
Cert: PG / 91 mins / Dir. Jim Sharman
Year: 1981 (6 years after the first movie)

The general feeling: RT Score: 40% / IMDB Score: 5.8

This film was released in the same year as Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Think about that for a second. Shock Treatment is the 1981 sequel to 1975's cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show and, it would appear, Richard O'Brien's flailing, last-jab insult to everyone who'd asked breathlessly for a sequel in between. At least I assume so, because if I was an established musical-writer with a stage and screen hit under my belt, and this is what I came up with after six years of anctip… …ation*1, I'd probably be embarrassed into just pushing Rocky Horror on to tour for the rest of its natural lifespan while trying to forget that Shock Treatment ever happened, as well.

In the film's opening scene, Janet Weiss (now Majors)'s badly overdubbed "It's alright Brad, everything's going to be alright…" effortlessly sets the scene for an ill-judged sequel which is oddly reticent and half-arsed, considering Rocky was a firmly established hit. The opening acts callbacks and Easter-eggs to RH are presented with the subtlety and tact of a surprise prostate examination, and the clunky script is delivered as if it's a first read-through in a dimly lit room. By pissed people.

Structurally mirroring its predecessor, the camp exuberance and otherworldly charm of Rocky has disappeared, replaced by a heavy-handed and laugh-free pastiche of consumerist television and the mental health of a generation. Presumably the sterility of the hopsital-like TV studio is artistically intentional, although I'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to extend to the rest of the film as well. Enforced wackiness to the point of incoherence, this is more like a light-entertainment nightmare than the satirical O'Brien could have ever intended (unless of course he'd only planned to send up himself). The musical numbers also feature some of the worst lip-syncing you'll ever see in a finished film, as well as some of the dullest songs you'll ever see in A Musical™.

Lead actor Cliff De Young at least tries to act a little like Barry Bostwick in his scenes as Brad Majors (even if he seems to come off more like Alan Carr), whereas Jessica Harper's rendition of Janet suggests she hasn't even heard of Rocky Horror, never mind seen Susan Sarandon's performance in it. Not helping matters is the fact that Harper's singing voice is deeper and richer than anyone else in the cast, including the men. Compare this to Sarandon's reedy-soprano, and it would have been easier to just write a different character, surely? The whole thing's so desperately shoehorned into production that it's hardly depending on Brad and Janet for narrative clarity…

Richard O'Brien has recently announced that Shock Treatment will be making its belated way to the stage in 2015.

This world is truly broken.*2

Warning: Stars Ruby Wax and Barry Humphries, demonstrating that they really should know better.
Oh, and weirdly, Sinitta.
Oh, and criminally, Rik Mayall

Have you seen this before??
I haven't.

…but have you seen the original movie?
Rocky Horror? Countless times, LOVE that movie/show.

Do I have to have seen the original movie?
The film continues the story of Rocky Horror's Brad and Janet, but quite frankly it's going to seem like gibberish whether you're familiar with that or not.

How many of the original film's stars returned?
Richard O'Brien's back (he did write it, to be fair) and Jim Sharman resumes directing duties. Also returning are RH mainstays Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, Charles Gray and Jeremy Newson as Ralph Hapschatt. The characters of Brad and Janet return, but Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon couldn't be tempted to come with them. I'm going to assume they read the screenplay.

Worth expanding into threequel territory?
A script has apparently been written, not that it's expected to make it to the screen.

Rent it, stream it, or wait for it to be on TV?
Never watch this.

Ah, but is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
Why in the actual fuck has this happened?

*1 Sorry.
*2 And for those of you reading these words and thinking 'oh come on now, it isn't that bad', you're wrong. It is.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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