Shock Treatment (1981 Production Notes) 2,904 views
An outrageous new musical from the creators of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," 20th Century-Fox's "Shock Treatment" is set in Denton, U.S.A., a mythical suburban community so dominated by television that life itself has become a TV show, complete with commercial breaks.
To lampoon our love affair with the tube, the filmmakers have come up with a unique structural and stylistic device. The entire film takes place inside a television studio. In fact, the entire town of Denton is a television studio, and its TV-fixated residents act like running characters in series that have gone wildly out of control.
Our guides through the madness of Denton are Brad and Janet Majors. The perfect young couple of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" visit the station as innocent participants in a daytime marriage-counseling show, "Marriage Maze." It's an apt title. Unbeknownst to Brad and Janet, they're unwitting pawns in a twisted scheme concocted by the station's sponsor, a fast food tycoon named Farley Flavors, who has an old score to settle.
What happens to Brad and Janet?
What strange secret links Brad and Farley Flavors?
Will Brad and Janet survive Farley's evil plot?
Will they live happily ever after?
For the answers to these and other cliff-hanging questions, tune in "Shock Treatment." The film propels Brad and Janet through a whirlwind of soap operas, medical series and quiz shows, telling us the couple's story in the context of the kinds of programs that have addicted America to television.
The musical score is fast and raunchy, a lively mix of rock and Broadway pop. The characters are wild comic creations. The satire is wickedly impudent. The film, in short, is a true original. Nothing like it has ever been seen before - except, perhaps, in the inspired imagination of someone who's spent a lifetime glued to a TV set.
Someone like Richard O'Brien.
O'Brien's childhood fascination with trashy horror movies prompted him to write "The Rocky Horror Show," first for the stage and then the screen. The film became the most successful cult musical of all time, and after years of steadily increasing sales - paralleling the growth of the "Rocky Horror" cult - the soundtrack album recently went gold.
"We always knew there would be a followup to 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show.' There's always a 'Son of...', a 'Bride of...' and a 'Son of...Rides Again'," O'Brien jokes. Then, comparing the new film to "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," he adds: "It's not a sequel... it's not a prequel...it's an equal."
"The real relationship between 'Rocky Horror' and 'Shock Treatment' is the consistent involvement of the same creative team," adds Jim Sharman.
Sharman directed "Shock Treatment" and co-authored the screenplay with Richard O'Brien. O'Brien also wrote the book and the lyrics, composed the music with Richard Hartley and plays a leading role in the film. "Shock Treatment" is a Lou Adler - Michael White production, the design is by Brian Thomson and the costumes by Sue Blane. All were previously involved in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"Both Cliff and Jessica began their careers in musical theatre," explains O'Brien, whose own career is also rooted in the musical stage, "and we were determined that the actors signed to play Brad and Janet would do their own singing.
"Many people aren't aware that, during the late '60s, Cliff had been the lead singer with a very popular rock group called Clear Light," he notes, referring to the band who appeared as the opening act for such performers as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix. "Jessica was one of the first people interviewed for the part of Janet. What sold us on her, as against all the others, was her wonderful singing voice." Coincidentally, both Harper and De Young launched their acting careers in the Broadway production of "Hair."
Vocal ability, vital though it was to the selection process, represented only part of the problem O'Brien, Sharman and the producers faced in casting the leads for "Shock Treatment."
"The dual role of Brad/Farley called for a special kind of versatility," comments O'Brien. "It is actually two sides of the same character and the actor we chose had to be capable of that kind of 180 degree range.
"For Janet, we wanted an actress who was able to convey the qualities of a wholesome 'girl-next-door' on the surface and tap the uninhibited woman under the skin."
Harper also had the factor of genre identification working on her behalf. She has appeared in two other cult hits, the scary "Suspiria," and another rock-shocker, "Phantom of the Paradise."
"'Shock Treatment' shows a cartoon world of television-influenced lifestyles and media manipulation," says director Sharman. "By presenting our TV images, situations and characters, we're not trying to avoid reality. Rather, we're giving a new perspective on what is served up every day by the media as reality."
"When we initially conceived 'Shock Treatment,' Brad and Janet's home was a real place," adds author O'Brien. "The Denton-vale sanitarium was real. Everything was real. The film was set in an American suburb and we were going to shoot as much as we could on location in the U.S.A. But then the Screen Actors strike intervened -- and it turned out to be a stroke of good luck. We had to film the picture in England, but since we couldn't recreate American locations there, the movie had to be shot in a studio. It was then that we came up with the idea of setting the whole production inside a TV studio, and making the entire film look like it was shot off a television soundstage."
Observes producer John Goldstone: "We are so influenced by the media -- the way we dress, the way we talk, our behavior, values and dreams - that to a very real extent, the whole world has become one big TV show."
No one knows that better than Cliff De Young:
"Years ago I was a regular on 'The Secret Storm' and I invited my mother-in-law to visit the set because it was her favorite soap. She was very excited - until she actually got to the studio and watched us tape the show. Her reaction was far from what I anticipated. I asked her why she was so disappointed and she said, "You ruined the show for me.'
"She was so hooked on the show, she thought it was real. But when she saw the actors getting ready, putting on their makeup, running lines, and the cameras rolling around, it totally destroyed the reality she had going on in her head.
"Our film is going to bring that out," De Young continues. "Every part of life in 'Shock Treatment' is in the context of a TV show."
Indeed, the entire film can be seen as a further episode in the continuing saga of Brad and Janet Majors, the innocent couple from Denton, U.S.A. who wandered into a Transylvanian transvestite convention in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." In that 1975 film, the two young lovers were portrayed by Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon, and Tim Curry co-starred as the mad scientist, Dr. Frank-N-Furter.
Now, with De Young and Jessica Harper playing Brad and Janet, the perfect couple is not quite as perfect anymore. To solve their marital problems, they appear as contestants on the "Marriage Maze" television show, hosted by the ever-popular Bert Schnick (played by Barry Humphries). But Brad and Janet's problems are just beginning. The station's all-powerful sponsor, Farley Flavors, wants Janet for his very own, for very strange reasons of his own, and has to remove Brad from the scene. He fixes the show to get Brad committed to the town's loony-bin, Denton-vale, a "rest home" run by Cosmo and Nation McKinley (portrayed by Richard O'Brien and Patricia Quinn), a pair of shrinks who are far crazier than any of their patients.
For Cliff De Young, his dual role in "Shock Treatment" is an actor's dream: he gets to play the hero, Brad, and the villain, Farley Flavors.
"I modeled Brad after David Eisenhower," De Young reveals. "Brad, with his clean-cut innocence and Mr. Squeaky-Clean-America looks, is straight out of the '50s.
"But Farley is definitely not Mr. Clean. He's a snake-oil salesman with slicked-back hair who fine-tunes the fates of Brad and Janet to serve his own evil purposes. He's the great program director in the sky who makes everything happen."
Through Farley Flavors' Machiavellian plotting, Janet Majors becomes Denton TV's newest new face. With her Ozzie and Harriet upbringing, it should be a dream come true.
"Janet is definitely Little Miss Middle-Class," according to Jessica Harper. "She's lived her whole life in a kind of little frilly doll house, and Brad is the ideal mate for her.
"In the first movie, Janet was loyal to Brad but also interested in exploring the bizarre world of Transylvania that she and Brad stumbled upon. Similarly in this movie, she is still loyal to Brad but really loves being on television and doing all these odd things with all these odd people. She's not at all reluctant to leap into this new role of TV superstar that's being offered to her. She discovers that she really is a naughty girl."
"Jessica understood the irony of the film," states O'Brien. "It's a difficult thing for some American performers to be objective about television and the whole underside of pop stardom. But Jessica had no trouble at all with the irreverence of our script."
Like Jessica Harper, the multi-talented O'Brien has no qualms about being irreverent. Proof of that is his authorship of the stage and screen versions of "Rocky Horror" and his performance in them as Riff Raff, the hunchbacked handyman of Transylvania who hails from the planet Transexual.
O'Brien the actor has a field day as Cosmo McKinley, Dentonvale's nutty nuthouse keeper.
"Cosmo is a phony," comments O'Brien. "Just because he's got a 'doctor' before his name he feels he can cure people. But he's the one who needs curing. He's a wonderfully corrupt blend of lunacy and larceny -- a would-be inmate who, literally, is running the asylum."
The same might be said of Cosmo's sister, Nation McKinley, played by Patricia Quinn.
"That's right, folks, we're together again," says Quinn, who co-starred with O'Brien in the stage and screen versions of "Rocky Horror." She played Magenta, Riff Raff's incestuous sibling.
"Nation is a somewhat different character," the actress notes. "She's all terribly clean and healthy - on the outside at least. But inside she's rotten to the core. If she wasn't, I never would have been cast. I'm always cast as a baddy. I don't know why. I'm really a very lovely person."
Also reunited with O'Brien are "Rocky Horror" troupers Charles Gray, Nell Campbell and Jeremy Newson.
Gray, a distinguished British character actor, won an entirely new and decidedly rowdier following through his appearance as the Criminologist in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." In "Shock Treatment," Gray is Denton TV's favorite egghead, Judge Oliver Wright, a specialist in in-depth discussions.
"I never expected to be the object of a cult," the stentorian Gray remarks with some amusement, adding that he's never even seen "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
"I never see any of my films," the actor laughs. "It's quite a shock, all the madness that's erupted around the whole 'Rocky Horror' phenomenon. Sal Piro, the president of the Rocky Horror Fan Club, has the coat I wore in that film and he lends it out on special occasions. It's a sort of relic. Like I am."
Nell Campbell - Columbia, the Transylvanian groupie in the stage and screen companies of "Rocky Horror" - turns up in "Shock Treatment" as Ansalong, a nurse in the Dentonvale booby hatch. Campbell's career is straight out of an old MGM musical. Dressed up in top hat and tails, singing and tapping away like Ann Miller, Campbell performed her routine on the streets of London's theatre district, hoping to catch the eye of anyone who could give her a break. Director Jim Sharman saw her, cast her, and the rest is history.
Jeremy Newson is the only member of the "Shock Treatment" cast recreating the same role he played in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." As Ralph Hapschatt, he's the M.C. of the "Faith Factory," Denton TV's inspirational program devoted to mental health.
The station's other favorite M.C. is Bert Schnick, host of "Marriage Maze." Australia's Barry Humphries plays Bert like a silent film villain of the German cinema of the 1920s, a Dr. Caligari. "He's a highly expressionist character, a blind Viennese-born game show host. Right away you know he's not rooted in any reality of any kind, except his own."
Humphries first achieved fame as the star of a one-man show in which he played, among other bizarre characters, Dame Edna Everage, a Melbourne housewife. Dame Edna began to emerge during the actor's college days at Melbourne University and has since delighted audiences in London and New York. With "Shock Treatment," Humphries' one-of-a-kind comic talents will be brought for the first time to international motion picture audiences.
The world of Barry Humphries is imaginative and fantastic. He's right at home in "Shock Treatment."
THE 'ROCKY HORROR' PHENOMENON...
Brad and Janet had their first encounter with Transylvanian weirdos Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Riff Raff, Magenta and Columbia in June 1973, when producer Michael White presented "The Rocky Horror Show" on stage at London's 60-seat experimental Theatre Upstairs. By the end of the year, the show was playing to packed houses at the 500-seat King's Row Theatre and had been voted the season's Best Musical in the London Evening Standard's annual poll of drama critics.
Encouraged by "Rocky Horror"'s London success, Lou Adler made an arrangement with White to mount an American production. Adler opened the show at his Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles, where it ran for a year. Following the smash West Coast engagement, "Rocky Horror" moved on to Broadway to less successful results. The show closed in New York after a brief run.
Undeterred, White and Adler went ahead with a movie version, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Released by 20th Century-Fox, the film had its official opening at the United Artists Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles, on September 26, 1975, where it ran for four months on a continuous basis. It was in Westwood that the first signs of a "Rocky Horror" cult were observed: the theatre owner reported that many members of the audience were returning every night and singing the songs along with the characters.
But the Westwood experience was not repeated elsewhere. After scattered first-run bookings in other cities, the film was withdrawn from release, never having played New York.
Fox and the producers decided to try a different marketing approach in an effort to recoup their relatively small million-dollar production investment and recreate the Westwood phenomenon.
On April 1, 1976, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" crept out of the vaults to have its New York premiere at the Waverly Theatre in Greenwich Village, playing weekend midnight shows only. There was no hype, few advertisements. The strategy was simply to let moviegoers discover the film for themselves. They did. Within weeks, an underground audience began to surface at the Waverly at midnight on weekends. Attempting to set up similar midnight bookings around the country, the studio initially met with resistance; some theatre owners balked at playing the film for the minimum of 26 weekends that Fox insisted upon to build up word of mouth.
Gradually, however, as "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" entered its 26th...36th...46th weekend in New York, Austin, Philadelphia, New Brunswick and other cities, exhibitors around the country agreed to play the film. Since 1977, there have never been fewer than 200 prints in circulation, and the film is still playing late shows in many of the same theatres where it first opened three, four and five years ago.
Boxoffice gross to date, garnered exclusively from once or twice-a-week midnight shows in 200 American cities, exceeds $30 million.
The "Rocky Horror" fan club, those hard-core fanatics who return to the film every weekend, dressed in the costume of their favorite character from the movie, performing their own capsule versions of the film and chanting the dialogue and singing along with the actors on the screen, now boasts well over 10,000 members.
Two of them are Nicole Nicotra and Joseph Zwart. They met at a screening of "Rocky Horror" at the Man Ray Cinema in Belmar, N.J., where the film is in its fourth year.
Nicole was dressed as Frank-N-Furter, Joseph as Riff Raff. It was love at first sight.
The couple was wed on June 20, 1981, in ceremonies performed at the theatre just before the midnight show. As the theatre manager Mike Frankel said at the wedding, "When you show 'Rocky Horror,' you've got to be ready for anything."
"I think 'Rocky Horror' fans are the happiest people in the world," Lou Adler told author Bill Henkin in The Rocky Horror Picture Show Book. "Every Friday and Saturday night, they have some place to go where they can be with 300 people they like and have a good time.
"It would have been very easy for us, once the movie had caught on, to take it off the midnight circuit and go for a wider audience in regular runs. But we didn't want to do that because it would have taken the film away from the people it belongs to. The fans made the film. They are the people who are creating a lot of the atmosphere, doing the show right in the audience while the movie is being projected. They are the stars."
"At the time when the stage show was playing in London," recalls director Jim Sharman, "there was a quite perceptive piece in Rolling Stone which commented that 'Rocky Horror' was the first musical not to be based on any reality whatsoever. Most musicals are a gloss on reality, but 'Rocky Horror' was a gloss on a tradition of late-night movies that, while they were part of a certain age group's heritage, do not really exist at all -- except as a fantasy."
It remained for the "Rocky Horror" fans to recreate the fantasy they saw on screen and make it real.
About the Filmmakers...
As one of the most creative and successful forces to emerge from the contemporary record and music world scene, LOU ADLER is also the first such figure to both cross over and establish a decidedly personal place in the motion picture industry.
"Shock Treatment," on which Adler is executive producer, is the latest example of the totally off-the-beaten path projects that have marked Adler's films to date.
Adler's earliest involvement with films began in 1967 when he produced "Monterey Pop," an award-winning documentation of the Monterey Music Festival which introduced then unknowns Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. The film now stands as a classic, and marks what may well have been the apex of the 60's rock-wrought music revolution. It was also the grandfather of the future Woodstock Festival.
Adler's first "theatrical film" was the off-beat, non-linear "Brewster McCloud," which Robert Altman directed for MGM as his first project after "M*A*S*H."
Adler's next production was to be even more specialized, and more off-beat: "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - the film version of an endearing (albeit kinky) science fiction and "Golden Hollywood" spoof that he first presented in its original stage version at his Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. It ran for more than a year at the "Sunset Strip" cabaret theatre before Adler brought it to Broadway. He acquired the American stage rights to "Rocky Horror" after seeing its original London mounting a few weeks after opening night, and the satiric musical has become one of the landmark successes of our time.
In 1979, Adler not only made his directorial debut but also created another film phenomenon with his production of "Up in Smoke." The comedy starred Cheech and Chong, whom Adler originally discovered and with whom he resurrected the comedy album as a viable entity on his Ode Records label. "Up in Smoke" has become the most successful film in motion picture history in relation to cost ($1.7-million) to gross (an estimated $100-million internationally).
More importantly, in theme and execution Adler's "Up in Smoke" was not only the first "doper's" comedy that fooled around with youth-oriented lifestyles he helped popularize, but it also appealed to a wider audience than the rock generation; fact is, it appealed to every age level.
Born on December 13, 1936, Adler was raised in a "rough," ethnically changing, diverse section of East Los Angeles. He was very much a "street kid" and had to make and protect everything he had. He was a high school drop-out and a Navy veteran while still not out of his teens. After being mustered out of the Navy (with an equivalent high school diploma) he briefly attended Los Angeles City College to study basketball and journalism. But journalism's loss soon came to be the music world's gain when Adler, not reading a note of music, began producing singles in a garage with a friend and fledging trumpet player, Herb Alpert.
In 1959 he produced his first record, Jan & Dean's "Baby Talk," which became a top 10 single. Five years later he was one of the founders of Dunhill Records. His first two projects under this combination were Johnny Rivers' "Memphis," a No. 1 bestseller, and Barry McGuire's protest theme "Eve of Destruction," which sold 7 million copies. He continued his success as a record producer-manager when he discovered (he says uncovered) The Mamas and the Papas, and produced such now-classic hits as "California Dreamin'" and "Monday Monday."
During his two decades in the record industry, Adler has been directly responsible for the guidance and successes of its more noteworthy artists, and the work-style he has cultivated there is the same one he uses today for records and films. He always works through his own Tiffany-like organization - small, compact and totally at his control. For him, any venture is an all-or-nothing experience. He directs its every aspect -- almost to a fault.
But when the body of Adler's film work is discussed, it will mirror his career in music.
It is not the millions of records that Adler sold but more what each type of music meant to its period of time. He admits proudly that "I got my schooling from Sam Cooke" in the '50s and he came away from his work with the legendary soul performer to collaborate with a spectrum of artists. Jan & Dean personified the simple-beat bubble gum energy of the late '50s. The '60s, diversified as a decade, were represented by three different kinds of artists: Johnny Rivers and his signalling of a new mid-'60s "Go-Go" rock energy coming from the Sunset Strip in Hollywood; Barry McGuire as the archtypal "protest rocker" with his "Eve of Destruction"; and the Mamas and the Papas with their hybrid form of folk-rock fused with indelible melodies. Carole Kings's songwriting, specifically for her historic "Tapestry" album, was a harbinger for the '70s: soft rock with an emphasis on personal lyrics. And Cheech and Chong, whose humor was the verbal equivalent of rock music, defined and mirrored the lifestyles of a certain time and place.
Executive producer MICHAEL WHITE is one of London's most successful impressarios. By the comparatively early age of 38 his drive and energy produced some 90 shows and at one time he had six major productions running in London's West End. In 1975, White produced his first film, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Michael White was born in Scotland on January 16, 1936, and was educated in Switzerland and at the Sorbonne, Paris, where he studied comparative literature. His first job was in New York as a Wall Street runner.
"I was something of an oddity being English in the New York Stock Exchange," he said, "but although I met a lot of very interesting people I had no interest at all in being a broker. I didn't learn anything because I wasn't interested in money. I took a job as a stage hand in a summer theatre in Connecticut and by a series of coincidences ended up running the place. I think that was the only time in my life I worked really hard."
White returned to London in 1957 and worked for five years with producer Peter Daubeny, eventually becoming his assistant. In 19 61 White and Daubeny produced the American play "The Connection." The play was something of a sensation. Fighting broke out in the balcony on the first night over the language used.
White left Daubeny and went to live in France. Returning to London he became involved with the Theatre Royal, Stratford East when Joan Littlewood was on a year's leave of absence and produced such plays as Brecht's "Jungle of the Cities" and Joyce's "Finnegan's Wake." Over the next few years, White produced numerous plays which he says had one failing: "They were all too difficult, too highbrow or too controversial to appeal to large audiences."
"Sleuth" was White's first popular success although he did bring to London a Cambridge University Footlight's Revue starring John Cleese and also presented Spike Milligan in "Son of Oblomov" which ran for eighteen months.
Four producers had turned down "Sleuth" before White bought it and it took White a year to find a theatre in which to present the play. It was an immediate success and White eventually produced "Sleuth" on Broadway.
Now White intends to become more involved in films. "Simply because I've done so much theatre, I wanted a change," he says. "I've always been interested in films and it seems a natural progression. "
Among White's London theatrical successes are "Oh! Calcutta," "A Doll's House," "Two Gentlemen From Verona," "The Rocky Horror Show," "A Chorus Line," "Dracula," "Annie" and "Deathtrap." His films include "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Jabberwocky," "The Hound of the Baskervilles," "Rude Boy," "Polyester" and "Urgh, a Music War." For the future he has plans to film "Dread at the Control."
Producer JOHN GOLDSTONE was born near Manchester, England, on April 8th, 1943. He was educated at Stowe and later studied French culture, history, art and language at the Sorbonne in Paris.
Returning to London at the age of 18 he entered the film industry and joined the producer Joseph Janni, subsequently becoming his personal assistant on such films as "A Kind of Loving," "Billy Liar," "Darling," "Far From the Madding Crowd," "Modesty Blaise" and "Poor Cow."
Goldstone next joined Alan Clore Films in charge of production and distribution, going on to produce the film version of "The Three Sisters" directed by Laurence Olivier and starring Alan Bates with the National Theatre Company.
In 1968 Goldstone formed Gladiole Films Ltd. with producer Michael White.
Their first film was "The Final Programme" followed by "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Jabberwocky" and "The Hound of the Baskervilles." In 1978 Goldstone produced "Monty Python's Life of Brian."
Two years ago he became involved in developing "Shock Treatment."
It was the creative team's intention from the very beginning to create a film that was "different from 'Rocky Horror,' a film that could stand on its own," Goldstone explains.
"You cannot second-guess a cult. No one has ever explained the precise reason for the phenomenon, so it would be impossible to start out to create a cult film.
"People say that the cult that evolved around 'Rocky Horror' had to do with the liberation that the film gives to those who see it. The whole thing about dressing up outrageously is very important to modern kids. Every new fashion is created because people like to show off and extend themselves. 'Rocky Horror' gave these kids a forum where they could do just that.
"It's extraordinary the way the fans become the characters and put on their own versions of the show in the audience. Each city has its own local added lines. This means the audience can be creative and feel that the whole 'Rocky Horror' experience is coming from themselves. There's never been anything like it."
JIM SHARMAN, director of "Shock Treatment," as well as the stage and screen versions of "Rocky Horror," was born in Australia and as the only son of fairground people spent his childhood travelling with sideshows.
Graduating from the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney in 1966, Sharman began work as a director, staging over 40 productions in the last decade. Plays have included Pinter's "The Birthday Party" and "The Lover," Genet's "The Maids," Delaney's "A Taste of Honey," Shakespeare's "As You Like It" and "King Lear," the Brecht/Weill "Threepenny Opera," Sam Shepard's "Unseen Hand" and "The Tooth of Crime" (both at the Royal Court in London) and many premieres of Australian works including the early revue "On Stage Oz," the subsequent "Trials of Oz" (in New York) and three plays by Patrick White, "The Season at Sarsaparilla," "A Cheery Soul" and "Big Toys."
In the musical theatre Sharman directed "Jesus Christ Superstar" in Australia and London, "Hair" in Australia and Japan and "The Rocky Horror Show" in London, Australia and the United States. Opera productions include Mozart's "Don Giovanni" and Benjamin Britten's "Death in Venice."
Film work began with a project that has become something of an Australian underground classic - "Shirley Thompson Versus the Aliens" - made in 1970. Films following this include "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and a screen adaptation of Patrick White's short story "The Night, the Prowler."
Following "Shock Treatment." he rejoined designer Brian Thomson (their consistent partnership of director/designer has created something of a unique visual flavor in their work together), staging a new adaptation of Wedekind's "Lulu" for the State Theatre Company of South Australia. Judy Davis (of "My Brilliant Career") is the star.
Sharman intends to make more films in the future. With "Shock Treatment" he has discovered a new pleasure in the medium. "Certainly 'The Night, the Prowler' is the film I most enjoyed directing prior to 'Shock Treatment,'" he says. "Having been brought up in the theatre and directed in the theatre for a decade or so, films were the newer medium. At the time of 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' I had less experience with the medium and also we were putting a stage show on the screen which presents its own set of problems. I think 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' was to a degree compromised by these factors but I don't think 'Shock Treatment' has been at all. The mutual decision was that this time we would create a musical for the screen in the way we originally created 'Rocky Horror' for the stage."
The innovative and multi-talented RICHARD O'BRIEN has written the screenplay for "Shock Treatment" with director Jim Sharman, the music with Richard Hartley, is author of the book and lyrics and co-stars in the film as Cosmo McKinley.
O'Brien's talent for the "unusual" is well known. Author, lyricist and composer of the stage and screen versions of "The Rocky Horror Show," O'Brien created an experience that realized everyone's fantasies and a cult "happening" that is still going strong eight years after the show's London stage debut and five years after the release of the film.
There is little in O'Brien's background to indicate his emergence as originator of the not-of-this-earth crazies of "Rocky Horrcr." Born in Chelterham, bastion of English respectability, O'Brien moved to Tauranga, New Zealand, with his family at the age of nine. He left school at 16, spent time learning the basics of farming and then moved into hairdressing before returning to England six years later.
At school O'Brien was not a brilliant scholar but he did harbor the ambition to act. "I started halfway up and slid down," he says of his academic achievement. "I was okay at drawing and I also acted but I kept quiet about any theatrical ambitions.
"They were a dream I never put into words. Those who did got, 'He's going to be an effing star, or 'ooh, have you heard...'"
Now, O'Brien admits that he never thought he was anything else but an actor. "I never thought I wasn't acting," he says. "Life had always been some sort of strange stage. I'd always felt insular and apart from team activities. I always felt I was watching things happen. I never felt I was part of the excitement, I was an audience to life ... Once I started acting and I knew you were watching and working in that same way on stage ... viewing others' activity and responding to it ... it was just the same as I had been all my life."
Arriving in England with the equivalent of $30 in his pocket, O'Brien took any job available. He was a dustman, record salesman, gas station attendant, driver of a builder's van and pie factory worker.
O'Brien had begun working in small experimental theatres, such as The Crypt. "I worked backstage, in the flies ... I did everything around the theatre plus acting here and there ..." he says. He then got a job as assistant stage manager with the touring company of the musical "Robert and Elizabeth" where he says he learned "a great deal." In 1968 O'Brien won his first proper role in "Gulliver's Travels" at the Mermaid. A nine month tour and nine month London run was followed by a year's employment. Then came parts in the London productions of "Hair" and "Jesus Christ Superstar" and his first meeting with Jim Sharman.
"After I left 'Superstar' I wrote 'The Rocky Horror Show,1 and when I played in Sharman's production of 'The Unseen Hand' at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs, I mentioned the musical to Jim because I thought it might appeal to him."
It did appeal and the rest, as the cliche goes, "is history."
"Rocky Horror," O'Brien's first attempt at writing, has been performed almost everywhere in the world including New Zealand. "My parents are very proud of me," he says, "even though I have rotten grammar, punctuation and spelling." O'Brien has written two other plays with music, "Disaster" and "T-Zee," neither of which received an over-enthusiastic reception from critics.
O'Brien is now recording a first album in collaboration with Richard Hartley.
RICHARD HARTLEY composed the music for "Shock Treatment" with Richard O'Brien as well as serving as musical director and arranger. His association with O'Brien dates back to 1972 when they were both working on a play "The Unseen Hand" by Sam Shepard, directed by Jim Sharman. Subsequently, Hartley wrote the incidental music and was musical director and arranger for "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Explaining their methods of collaboration, Hartley notes that O'Brien always writes the lyrics and frequently comes up with the basis for the song. "Richard often writes a song which is not complete," says Hartley. "I complete it. There'll be a middle of a verse missing. Like 'Denton.* That just had a beginning and no verse or chorus but it had lyrics, so I worked on it. Sometimes Richard has the tune and there is nothing for me to do apart from re-structuring. He usually has a working tune and we change it if necessary. We will end up with a melody and lyrics but it might not dramatically fit so I change it to fit the scene it's going into."
Director of photography MIKE MOLLOY worked as camera operator on Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon" and Nicholas Roeg's "Performance" and "Walkabout." His lighting credits include "The Shout," "The Human Factor" and "The Kidnapping of the President."
BRIAN THOMSON, who designed "Shock Treatment" and also provided additional ideas for the screenplay, previously created the sets for the stage and screen versions of "The Rocky Horror Show." Thomson is currently Associate Director of the Sydney Theatre Company and will be working with Jim Sharman at the Adelaide Festival.
Costume designer SUE BLANE, who trained at the Central School of Art, has worked at the Citizen's Theatre, Glasgow, designed sets and costumes for the Scottish Opera and created the costumes for "The Rocky Horror Show" on stage and screen.
The art director is ANDREW SANDERS whose films include "Ned Kelly," "Private Road," "Son of Frankenstein" and "Absolution."
Choreographer GILLIAN GREGORY'S credits include "The Boy Friend," "There Goes the Bride," "Valentino," "Mahler," "Reds" and the West End stage production of "Chicago."
About the Players...
JESSICA HARPER, a woman of multiple talent, plays Janet. Singer, dancer, song-writer, painter, actress are on the list of Jessica's credentials. She was born in Chicago and educated at Winnetka High School, Illinois and Sarah Lawrence College.
As a college student Jessica had thoughts of being in the chorus of a Broadway show and it was on Broadway that she made her stage debut. Fresh from college she won a part in "Hair," the '60s musical that launched many - including Cliff De Young - on the path to success.
During the run of "Hair" Jessica made her first film, "Taking Off," which was followed by a role in NBC's "Take a Giant Step."
Jessica subsequently appeared in numerous summer stock and off-Broadway productions, culminating in rave reviews for her portrayal of a mad singing and dancing nurse in "Dr. Selavy's Magic Theatre" in New York.
She earned superlative notices in a television production of "The Garden Party," based on Katherine Mansfield's short story, and collected her own cult after appearing in Brian De Palma's film "Phantom of the Paradise." Last year she co-starred in Woody Allen's "Stardust Memories." On television she has appeared in "Little Women," "Aspen" and "Studs Lonigan." Her other feature films include "Inserts" and "Suspiria."
In her next film, "Pennies From Heaven," she joins Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters under Herbert Ross's direction.
Jessica has two sisters and three brothers. Her mother was a singer in New York night clubs before her marriage and it is possibly from her that Jessica inherits her strong singing voice. She says that she has never had a singing lesson but spent much of her youth listening to Dionne Warwick discs. Jessica writes many of her own songs and has appeared at New York's "The Bottom Line" club.
The twin roles of Brad and Farley are played by CLIFF DE YOUNG. Born in Los Angeles, he began dreaming about a career in show business at an early age. His father died when De Young was six months old and the boy filled his lonely hours "fantasizing and doing imitations of Elvis Presley."
An accident with a gun at the age of ten put De Young into the hospital for a year. "When I didn't die and wasn't paralyzed I decided I was living on borrowed time," he says. "Everything seemed possible, there were no limits to what I could do." After watching Jose Ferrer in "Cyrano de Bergerac" and James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause," De Young decided that if he could match their achievements "acting would be a noble profession."
In the '60s rock'n roll was in its heyday and De Young temporarily abandoned thoughts of an acting career to join a group called Clear Light as lead singer. The band toured as the opening act for such performers as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and when Clear Light broke up De Young returned to the stage.
At California State and Illinois State Universities De Young gained a basic grounding as an actor in productions of such classics as "Romeo and Juliet," "King Lear," "Mother Courage," "The Taming of the Shrew," "The Glass Menagerie," "After the Fall" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night."
From Illinois De Young moved to New York and began appearing in plays off-Broadway. It was at this time that he met Jim Sharman, who directed him in the New York production of "The Trials of Oz." "I enjoyed working with Jim so much that when he approached me to do 'Shock Treatment' I was really eager," Cliff says. "Jim had called me in 1975 when they were setting up the film of 'Rocky Horror.1 He wanted to see me for Brad but I was doing a television series, 'Sunshine' in California. I was completely wrapped up in the series so I couldn't consider doing Brad then."
From off-Broadway De Young moved to Broadway when he won a role in "Sticks and Bones," the Tony Award-winning play by David Rabe. Then, after ten auditions, he landed a role in the Broadway production of "Hair."
De Young was a regular on the soap opera, "The Secret Storm," but it was his role as a young musician raising his daughter on his own in the TV movie and subsequent series, "Sunshine," that made his face known across the land. Success now firmly belongs to De Young and among his credits are the films "Harry and Tonto" and "Blue Collar" and the TV movies and mini-series "King," "The Lindbergh Kidnapping," "Captains and the Kings," "Centennial," "Hunter's Moon," "The Leatherstocking Tale," "Fun and Games" and "Scared Straight - Another Story."
He recently returned to the stage to great critical acclaim in "Two By South," directed by Robert Altman at the Los Angeles Actors Theatre.
PATRICIA QUINN, who, as the Transylvanian agent Magenta in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" collected her own cult following, plays Nation McKinley in "Shock Treatment."
Born in Belfast, May 28, 1944, Patricia was educated locally and had only one ambition: to act. After appearing on the stage in Belfast she came to London and spent three years training at the Drama Centre. She was the only student with professional experience and says, "Studying under highly qualified and experienced tutors was a considerable help to me."
From drama school Patricia joined the Glasgow Repertory Theatre and after one season returned to London to appear at the Royal Court in the English Stage Company's award-winning production "AC/DC." Next came a role in "The Threepenny Opera" and it was while playing in "Sarah B. Divine," that Patricia was spotted by Richard Hartley, who was then involved in preparations for the original stage production of "The Rocky Horror Show."
Patricia was persuaded to audition and sang the only song she knew all the way through; an old Jessie Matthews number "Over My Shoulder." "As it turned out it was just right," she says. "A few days later the part was mine."
The stage production of "The Rocky Horror Show" and the subsequent film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" are important to Patricia. The show gave her enduring friendships with Richard O'Brien, Nell Campbell and Jim Sharman and the film was her first screen success.
From "The Rocky Horror Show" on stage Patricia went immediately to a major role in BBC TV's "Shoulder to Shoulder." She played Christobel Pankhurst, leading light in the British suffragette movement. Her other television credits include "The Love School," "I Claudius," "The Professionals," "Fox," "Tales of the Unexpected" and "Witching Time." Theatre credits include "Murderer," "Macbeth," "Disaster" and "Bedroom Farce" and, in films, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," "Michael" and "Hawk-the Slayer."
CHARLES GRAY, one of Britain's leading actors, stars as Judge Oliver Wright, Denton's leading social scientist. Noted for his elegant appearance and sardonic humor, Gray's roles have tended toward the sophisticated "heavy" but in 1975 his image gained another dimension when he appeared as the Criminologist in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."
Gray has never seen the film and is somewhat surprised at the subsequent increase in his fan mail.
Born in Bournemouth, England, a genteel south coast resort, there is nothing in Gray's background to suggest that he would become an actor let alone collect a following of admirers from the cult fringe. His professional debut was with the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park and in the ensuing years Gray has played with considerable success and acclaim in a variety of roles ranging from Shakespearean classics to the archetypal villain pitted against the macho hero James Bond in "Diamonds are Forever."
In 1955 Gray was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-on-Avon. Joining the Old Vic in 1956, he appeared in "Richard II" and "Troilus and Cressida" in London and subsequently toured America with the company.
Gray made his television debut in 1958 in "The Captain of Koepenick" and his numerous credits in this medium include "Anastasia" for the Hallmark Hall of Fame with Lynn Fontanne and Julie Harris; "The Moon and Sixpence," "Twelfth Night," "Fall of Eagles," "Waugh on Crime," "Churchill's People," "London Assurance," "Hay Fever," "Upstairs, Downstairs," "Richard II," "Julius Caesar," "We The Accused," "The Schoolmistress" and "Ike." Gray starred with Margaret Leighton in a memorable British situation comedy, "The Upper Crusts."
As a singer/dancer Gray will be the first to admit he has no pretensions but he has appeared in a surprising number of musicals. He was featured opposite Paul Scofield in the West End production "Expresso Bongo"; appeared as the Prince Regent in the New York musical "Kean"; in the film "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" he demonstrated the "Time Warp," and in "Shock Treatment" Gray again extends his singing career.
In 1964 Gray won the Clarence Derwent Award for "Best Supporting Performance" of the year for his role in "Poor Bitos" which he played in London and on Broadway. Notable among Gray's other stage appearances are "The Right Honourable Gentleman" on Broadway; "The Philanthropist," "Cause Celebre" and "The Man Who Came to Dinner."
Gray's film career is equally distinguished and his numerous credits include "The Night of the Generals," "You Only Live Twice," "The Secret War of Harry Frigg," "Cromwell," "The Legacy" and "The Mirror Crack'd."
NELL CAMPBELL, dressed in sequined top hat and tails, tap danced across the stage and screen in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," collecting her own fan club on the way and a host of fancy dress look-alikes on the cult circuit that has grown around the film wherever it has shown.
In "Shock Treatment," Nell rejoins the creative team who originated the Rocky Horror cult phenomenon to play Ansalong.
Nell Campbell was born Laura Campbell in Sydney, Australia May 24th, 1953. She was educated locally and spent a year with a drama school attached to the Kralla Community Theatre, Sydney.
Nell's father is a journalist who writes a column for the Sydney Telegraph. As children the exploits of Nell and her two sisters and brother were featured regularly in Mr. Campbell's writing. The children had pseudonyms and Laura became Little Nell, after Dickens' character in "The Old Curiosity Shop." The name stuck.
Nell's first professional appearance was in a production of "Alfie" at Sydney's Community Theatre, followed by a character called Faith Sequin in a musical called "Hot Pants." Then in 1971 Nell came to London, where her father had a six month writing assignment, and stayed.
Her first job was in Kensington Market and she also worked in a shop before joining "Release," an organization established to help youngsters in trouble. Nell spent a year with "Release" and left to become a model for designer Zandra Rhodes. She then joined a friend Jules who was a mime artist and the two devised a street entertainment act which they enacted on the pavements of London and Edinburgh.
"Jules was dressed as a pierrot and I'd be in top hat and tails singing old '30s numbers and tap dancing," Nell says. "Jules would present his mime and we'd juggle and do odd things. We were quite successful for a time."
While tap dancing outside London's Palace Theatre for the queue waiting to see "Jesus Christ Superstar," Nell was spotted by director Jim Sharman. When casting for the first stage production of "The Rocky Horror Show" Sharman remembered the exuberant street singer, traced her down, and offered her the role of Columbia, Frank-n-furter's household groupie.
In 1974 Nell repeated her role for the show's film version, "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and her other films include "Barry Mackenzie," "Alfie Darling," "Lisztomania," "Summer of Secrets" (directed by Sharman); "Illusions" and Warren Beatty's "Reds." On television she has appeared in "Rock Follies," "Hazell," "Funny Many" and "Shoestring" and her stage credits include "Censored Scenes from King Kong," "Stoop" and "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Australia's BARRY HUMPHRIES is the startling Bert Schnick, host of TV's "Marriage Maze," in "Shock Treatment."
Born in Melbourne where his father was a builder of houses, Humphries was educated at Melbourne Grammar School. He won a scholarship to Melbourne University where he read law but where his major interest was those activities outside the scholastic. At that time he thought he would like to be a painter and organized one or two exhibitions of his work. "They were calculated to offend the old school tie brigade," he has said. "I became a sort of university 'character.' And then I found myself doing plays."
A newly formed repertory company at Melbourne University invited Humphries to join them and he discovered that one could be paid for acting. Around this time in 1956, "Dame Edna" began to emerge. To relieve the boredom of long bus journeys when the company was touring, Humphries entertained his fellow actors with his impressions of a Melbourne housewife. Dame Edna made her first appearance on stage in a sketch at the group's end of season revue. Humphries then recreated the character on stage in London and New York.
Back in Melbourne, Humphries went to work in a record warehouse. His job did not match his talent but it did have a certain affinity with the lunatic fringe of his mind. "LP's were just coming in," he recalls, "and because of copyrights, '78's could no longer be sold. My job was to smash thousands of '78's with a hammer. I tried to think of it as a supreme Dada activity."
In 1959 Humphries arrived in London and while looking for work as an actor found a job in an ice cream factory; he removed faulty raspberry ripple blocks from the conveyor belt. As a career this held little promise and Humphries was fortunately cast in two Lionel Bart musicals "Oliver" and "Maggie May." He had met Peter Cook and left his role as the undertaker in "Oliver" to appear at Cook's Establishment Club where he followed the American comedian Lenny Bruce.
On stage in London's West End, Humphries played Fagin in a revival of "Oliver" and Long John Silver in "Treasure Island." In 1961 he appeared in his first one-man show. He has since returned at intervals of two or three years with such success that Dame Edna can be described truly as a super-star.
Humphries is unique but he is also an important part of the explosion of artistic talent and anarchic humor that has come out of Australia in recent years.
RUBY WAX, who is Betty Hapschatt, was born in Chicago and trained at Glasgow's Royal Scottish Academy. She has been a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has appeared on television and in the film "The Final Conflict."
RIK MAYALL, Ricky from the Rest Home, studied drama at Manchester University where he formed his own theatre company 20th Century Coyote. He performs regularly at the Comedy Store and Comic Strip in London and has appeared on stage in "Macbeth" and "The Tramshed" and in the film "Eye of the Needle."
MANNING REDWOOD, who has appeared in over 100 plays and some 150 television shows in America, is Mr. Weiss, Janet's father. Mrs. Weiss, Janet's mother, is played by DARLENE JOHNSON who worked in the theatre in Australia before coming to England where she was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company for the 1978-80 seasons.
Macy Struthers is played by WENDY RAEBECK whose stage credits include New York productions of "Butterflies Are Free" and "The Children's Hour," the film "The Long Goodbye" and the television productions "Sooner or Later," "I'll Get By" and "Caught in a Train."
JEREMY NEWSON,who plays Ralph Hapschatt,is the only member of the cast recreating his role from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Born in Tunbridge Wells, Newson emigrated to Canada with his family as a child. He studied theatre at the University of British Columbia and made his debut with amateur theatre companies. Ten years ago he returned to England and won a recording contract with CBS making several singles as a pop singer. Newson's films include "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" and "Yanks."
BETSY BRANTLEY, who plays Neely Pritt, has appeared with the Harrogate Theatre in "All My Sons" and at Oxford in "Simple Spyman."
CHRISTOPHER MALCOLM, who is Vance Parker, appeared on the London stage as Brad in "The Rocky Horror Show."
The floor manager, RAY CHARLESON, graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. He studied drama in London and his films include "Hopscotch," "Yanks," "Superman" and "The Spy Who Loved Me."
GARY SHAIL, who plays Oscar Drill, trained at the Arts Educational School and his television appearances include "Oliver Twist," "The Professionals" and "Metal Mickey"; his film credits are "Quadrophenia" and "Music Machine."
EUGENE LIPINSKI, who is Kirk Idle, has appeared on stage, television and in such films as "Hanover Street," "Superman," "Yanks," "Bad Timing," "Star Wars" and "Outland."
DAVID JOHN, Bit the drummer, has appeared on stage with The Royal Shakespeare Company and in the film "Chariots of Fire."