Shock Treatment

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Shock Treatment (1981)

Shock Treatment is a 1981 American musical, black-comedy film and a follow-up to the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The late ‘70s were filled with rumors of a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel. There were a number of false starts and scripts that surfaced, but The Rocky Horror Picture Show finally got its reprise in the form of Shock Treatment, which had several of the original actors, and the now married characters of Brad and Janet as its central stars. It was written by Richard O'Brien, directed by Jim Sharman, and produced by Lou Adler and Michael White, the same team that brought Rocky Horror to the screen in 1975. Reacting to cult success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, composers Richard O’Brien and Richard Hartley initially worked on a sequel called "Rocky Horror Shows His Heels," but 20th Century Fox turned it down. O’Brien and Hartley were able to rescue some of the songs, including "Breaking Out" and "Looking for Trade" for their next attempt, with the working title of “The Brad and Janet Show.” Eventually, that morphed into it's release title, Shock Treatment.

Much of the original cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show were approached to be in the film once it was green-lit. Since the producers could not come to terms with Susan Sarandon, they decided to bypass Barry Bostwick, instead offering Tim Curry the dual role of Brad Majors and Farley Flavors, which he declined. Richard O'Brien, Patricia Quinn, Nell Campbell, and Charles Gray joined the cast in new roles, while the roles of Brad and Janet went to Jessica Harper (who had a cult following based on her role as Phoenix in Brian DePalma’s Phantom of the Paradise), and Cliff DeYoung (who was almost cast as Brad in The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Jeremy Newson, who played Ralph Hapschatt, was the only actor to repeat a role from the original. Christopher Malcolm, the original Brad from the Original London Cast of The Rocky Horror Show had a small role as Officer Vance Parker. Rounding out the cast is Australian actor Barry Humphries (later known for his role as Dame Edna) in a stand-out performance as game show host Bert Schnick.

Shock Treatment was filmed entirely on a sound stage in England as a Screen Actors Guild strike interfered with the plans to shoot on locations in the United States. The theme of the movie changed to accommodate shooting in one location, which gave O’Brien the idea to make the story revolve around a TV studio.

Although billed as "Not A Prequel, Not A Sequel, But An Equal", most fans did not see it that way at the time. Because of the long-time enthusiasm for The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Austin, Texas, Shock Treatment made its debut there at the Riverside Twin, in September 1981, with Richard O'Brien in person to promote the film. On October 24, 1981, The Rocky Horror Treatment, a made-for-TV promotional documentary for the film was was broadcast on syndicated U.S. television networks. With a general opening on October 30, 1981, Shock Treatment was released to tepid response. Although the film was big enough news to receive a review by critics Siskel and Ebert on their prime-time program At The Movies, it was noted that a major strike against it was was being released as a midnight movie in direct competition with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which was at its peak success.

Hard-core fans were willing to embrace Shock Treatment, but it fell short of expectations. Without the core characters of Rocky Horror, it didn’t have the same impact on audiences or the box office. It was widely felt that it was created to be a cult film as opposed to becoming one organically as Rocky had. Casual fans ignored it, and most hard-core fans kept going to see Rocky Horror. Without a traditional release, most movie-goers never even heard about Shock Treatment, although it did play to some success at several theaters as a midnight movie for several months, including Rocky Horror flagships the Waverly Theater in New York City and the Tiffany Theater in Los Angeles.

Interestingly, the subject matter of Shock Treatment was quite a bit before its time, with a reality TV/Truman Show-esque quality. The bottom line was that the music was good. A sub-cult of costumed performers eventually arose around it, with its own special screenings and enthusiastic, ongoing, inclusion at Rocky Horror Conventions.

A Shock Treatment Soundtrack LP was released on Ode Records, with an alternate version of the title track with a picture sleeve as a 7" single in 1981. In 1990, the album was released on CD for the first time.

The film was released on VHS and subsequently on DVD on a couple of occasions, but is currently out of print.

In the early ‘90s, O’Brien and Hartley collaborated again on a sequel idea. It was titled "Revenge of the Old Queen" and included the songs "The Moon-Drenched Shores of Transylvania" and "Never Let Your Daughter Date an Alien." A script was completed, but it was never produced.

Cast

Jessica Harper - Janet Majors
Cliff DeYoung - Brad Majors / Farley Flavors
Richard O'Brien - Dr. Cosmo McKinley
Patricia Quinn - Dr. Nation McKinley
Nell Campbell (aka Little Nell) - Nurse Ansalong
Charles Gray - Judge Oliver Wright
Barry Humphries - Bert Schnick
Ruby Wax - Betty Munroe Hapschatt
Jeremy Newson - Ralph Hapschatt
Wendy Raebeck - Macy Struthers
Rik Mayall - "Rest Home" Ricky
Darlene Johnson - Emily Weiss
Manning Redwood - Harry Weiss
Barry Dennen - Irwin Lapsey
Betsy Brantley - Neely Pritt
Christopher Malcolm - Vance Parker
Eugene Lipinski -Kirk
Gary Shail - Oscar Drill
Claire Toeman - Brenda Drill
Donald Waugh - Glish Davidson
David John - 'Bit' drummer
Gary Martin - 'Bit' guitarist
Sinitta Renet - Frankie
Sal Piro (uncredited) - Guy on pay phone

Musical Numbers

Overture (Orchestra)
Denton U.S.A. (Neely, Harry, Emily, Vance, Brenda, Frankie, Ralph, Macy, Audience)
Bitchin' in the Kitchen (Brad, Janet)
In My Own Way (Janet)
Thank God I'm a Man (Harry, Audience)
Farley's Song (Farley Cosmo, Nation, Ansalong, Ricky)
Lullaby (Nation, Cosmo, Janet, Ansalong, Ricky)
Little Black Dress (Cosmo, Janet, Bert, Nation)
Me of Me (Janet,Frankie and Brenda)
Shock Treatment (Cosmo, Nation, Ansalong, Janet, Ricky, Bert, Harry, Emily)
Carte Blanche (Janet)
Looking for Trade (Janet, Brad)
Look What I Did to My Id (Emily, Harry, Cosmo, Nation, Macy, Ralph, Ansalong, Ricky)
Breaking Out (Oscar Drill & The Bits)
Duel Duet (Farley, Brad)
Anyhow, Anyhow (Brad, Janet, Oliver, Betty)

Stage Adaptation

From April and June of 2015, a stage adaptation of Shock Treatment was seen at the King's Head Theater in London, starring Julie Atherton (from the original London cast of Avenue Q) as Janet.