Musical 52

THE OBJECTIVE:
Watch 52 musicals, one every week, in 2015.

SHOCK TREATMENT (1981)

Confession: I don’t like The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I guess I could never figure out if it was a good movie about bad movies or a so-bad-it’s-good movie or an impassioned middle finger to conservative America or just a bunch of fun dumb shit you’re not supposed to overthink. Whatever the case may be, I’ve never been particularly entertained by it. Why am I telling you all this?

Because The Rocky Horror Picture Show has a sequel.

That nobody ever talks about.

This is Shock Treatment.

THE STORY:
Our movie opens at a television station called DTV, where a studio audience is gathering for a taping of… something. What the fuck does this have to do with the original Rocky Horror? Well, if you look closely at the crowd, you might notice Brad and Janet… well, sort of.

Recast

Dammit, Janet, what happened to your face?

Yup, they recast, always a good sign for a sequel. We’ll come back to that, but for now, I have a confession to make. Sometimes the finer details of a movie will confuse me, so I double-check the story on Wikipedia. Well, I’ve decided against that today, because I want you to know what it’s like trying to make sense of this trash heap. Here is the plot as I understood it over the course of the runtime (spoilers if you ever think you’ll watch this crap)…

Brad and Janet are selected as contestants on a game show to analyze their compatibility as a couple.

They fail big time and are sent away to a brother-and-sister doctor duo that can cure their shitty relationship.

Docs

The cure is to lock Brad in a cage and make Janet… a soap opera star? Because all of this is still being televised or something?

Cage

And the network sponsor is some evil rich guy that is clearly the same actor as Brad so that’s definitely going to be a thing later?

Evil Man

Also, have a sub-plot about two people that used to host a show on DTV but it was canceled so they’re just running around behind the scenes doing whatever.

And we see other snippets of DTV shows that barely qualify as parodies…

…and the sibling doctors are fucking because that’s isn’t that just the kookiest…

Incest

…and then Brad defeats his evil twin (gasp! you mean the evil guy that looks just like him??) and he and Janet escape this television hellscape and it’s all over, I’m free now.

Good riddance.

Keep in mind, I have no idea what The Rocky Horror Picture Show is saying or why it’s fun, but multiply that by five for Shock Treatment. It’s like Rocky Horror, Twin Peaks, and UHF got in a horrible car accident, their mangled corpses were stuffed into the Brundlefly machine, then Banksy took a shit in there before it was fired up. It wants to be a satire so badly, but the only joke in the movie is the script itself.

THE ACTING:
As little as I care about Brad and Janet Majors, this is not my Brad and Janet. I haven’t seen RHPS for a while, but I feel like B&J are the quintessential squares. For my money, Cliff De Young’s Brad is too stiff and panicky, and Jessica Harper’s Janet is too cold and distant. And sure, the events of the first film have shaken them up, but the opening almost seems like a full character reset and they’re back to their dull selves.

Even the bland version of them was still kinda fun in the original.

Also, Janet’s descent into sexy madness is not nearly as convincing this time around. I simply do not buy that she wants to be touch-a touch-a touched.

Dull Janet

But I do buy that she wants to hang out at the arcade next to the Hot Topic.

Cliff De Young also plays the corporate megadouche Farley Flavors, who’s at least more fun than Brad, if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if Jack Nicholson played Lex Luthor instead of the Joker.

I haven’t, so let’s move on!

Hey, did you recognize those two doctors from the original movie? Good for you! Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn are back, this time as Doctors Cosmo and Nation McKinley. Richard is incredibly campy and high-energy and wants very much to be the new Dr. Frank N. Furter, but he does not succeed. And Patricia is there too. Being creepy. Just a couple of creeps. Yeah.

Eh. I’m losing steam.

And Charles Gray and Ruby Wax are zzzzz.

Zzzzzzz

Yawn.

Oh, I guess Barry Humphries is entertaining as game show host Bert Schnick, though he’s basically Tommy Wiseau in a Tony Clifton suit.

“Oh, hai score.”

Oh, wait, there is one performance I really loved! That would be Nell Campbell as Nurse Ansalong, but only because her character can be summed up as “really wants you to see her underwear.”

Ooh, thanks!

Panty 2

Thanks again.

Panty 3

That’s nice.

Panty 4

Okay, I get it.

Panty 5

Alright, the charm has officially worn off.

THE SONGS AND DANCES:
It’s hard to determine which is the bigger pants-shitting, the script or the music. See, the story is over-complicated and irritating, whereas the songs are forgettable and short. But… they’re kinda the whole reason to watch a musical, right? So you want them to be good, and they are not.

First up is “Denton U.S.A.,” the theme song of the show Brad and Janet are attending the taping of. Because we don’t yet know that this movie is going to boil down into turd soup, this introductory number makes it seem like it might go somewhere, contrasting its white-bread suburban imagery, catchy chorus, and cheerful singalong vocals with off-putting lyrics like “tolerance for the ethnic races.” Alas, it’s all downhill from here.

Denton

Don’t give in to the Lynch-y, Burton-y vibe here…

When Brad and Janet lose on the marriage game, they sing the dumbest fucking song to video clips of their parting gifts. It’s called “Bitchin’ in the Kitchen” and it is just the most pointless thing ever. Honestly, I get a tune about fighting too much in your relationship. I don’t get why it’s being addressed to blenders and toasters.

Bitchin'

More on this later.

Then Janet tries to convey that she loves Brad “in her own way” in… “In My Own Way.” I honestly don’t know if we’re supposed to believe her and I also don’t care because it is boring garbage.

Get my thesaurus, I’ll need about six more ways to say “boring garbage.”

Oh, hey, did I tell you Janet’s dad is in this? I’m confused because the DTV audience seems to be able to see him, so were Janet’s parents invited to live in the studio or is he an actor playing her pops or am I overthinking a mess of a screenplay? Anyway, Janet’s pappy sings “Thank God I’m a Man,” a macho cowboy ode to gender roles with a bit of homophobia for good measure.

Mow the Don

I’m honestly surprised the last line isn’t “Trump 2016!”

Bad guy Farley gets a song imaginatively titled “Farley’s Song.” It has a clever line about being not a king, but an ace, but they’re too proud of it and ruin the best lyric through repetition.

Nurse Panties

Not even Nurse Panties can save it.

Hey, everybody goes to bed! “Lullaby” wins points for being one long take that moves from window to window but loses them again for contributing to the length of Shock Treatment.

Snooooore

Not a great time to remind your audience of sleep.

Ooh, I did enjoy the song “Little Black Dress,” but only because dresses are an actually interesting subject and the melody is very upbeat and rockabilly, but then I realized it kinda just sounds like “The Time Warp,” so boo for cheating.

Dress

Still, nice dress.

Oh, God, that’s it, I can’t take it any more. This flick is a shit-ass slog, and I’m not even halfway through all the songs. Fuck it, here are my notes verbatim, each accompanied by one random screencap and the caption “Fart.” This will be my finest hour…

“Me of Me” – Janet eats up her new fame, and Farley jacks off to her

Cinema5200015

Fart.

“Shock Treatment” – Shock treatment, you guys. I’m so bored. (underwear)

Cinema5200016

Fart.

“Carte Blanche” – I barely even realized this song happened. They’re short, they don’t stick in my mind, they just kinda happen and then disappear, ugh.

Cinema5200017

Fart.

“Looking for Trade” – First song I kinda liked again, about wanting some new young blood. For sssssssssssSEX.

Cinema5200018

Fart.

“What Did I Do To My Id?” – Whatever. That lady shows her underwear.

Cinema5200020

Fart.

“Breaking Out” – Some Billy Idol-ish song by some Billy Idol-ish guy, I do not fucking care, aggghhh.

Cinema5200021

Fart.

“Duel Duet” – Brad and Farley fight via song about how one of them needs to die.

Cinema5200022

Fart.

Huh, and wouldn’t you know? I didn’t even write any notes for the closing number, “Anyhow, Anyhow.” Oh, well! Go fuck a bag of thumbtacks, movie!

Cinema5200023

Farrrrrrrrrt.

I THINK THIS LINE’S MOSTLY FILLER:
In a Cinema 52 first, I found the entirety of one of Shock Treatment‘s songs so utterly pointless and devoid of any meaning or fun that I officially declare every fucking word of “Bitchin’ in the Kitchen” to be nothing but filler…

“Dear blender, oh, won’t you help a first offender?
Oh, toaster, don’t you put the burn on me.
Refrigerator, why are we always sooner or later
Bitchin’ in the kitchen or crying in the bedroom all night?
Dear knife drawer, now won’t you help me to face life more?
Oh, trash can, don’t you put the dirt on me.
Oh, percolator, why are we always sooner or later
Bitchin’ in the kitchen or crying in the bedroom all night?
Everything used to be okay, but I’ve been had,
And Brad, I’m glad to say, is on his way.
Micro-digital awaker, why are we always sooner or later
Bitchin’ in the kitchen or crying in the bedroom all night?
Shower curtain, oh, won’t you help me to be certain?
Oh, toothpaste, don’t you put the squeeze on me.
Depilitator, why are we always sooner or later
Bitchin’ in the kitchen or crying in the bedroom all night?
Tell me, spectator, why are always sooner or later
Bitchin’ in the kitchen or crying in the bedroom all night?

FINAL THOUGHTS:
About 80 minutes into Shock Treatment‘s 94 minutes, I suddenly exclaimed, “Oh, I get it!” See, The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a love letter to trash cinema. Shock Treatment is a tribute to trash TV. There are elements of game shows, soap operas, televangelism, political debates, commercials, variety shows, and maybe even a glimpse into the future of reality television.

But just because I get it doesn’t mean it isn’t a giant fucking failure. As a satire. As a sequel. As a musical.

Ugh. I can’t believe Cinemanaut John watched the better film this week. And he watched Hannah Montana: The Movie.

NEXT WEEK:
High Society (1956)