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Shock Treatment

Friday 16 September 2011, 16:37

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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After The Rocky Horror Picture Show Richard O'Brien made Shock Treatment - describing it as 'not a prequel, not a sequel but an equal'. Very few people have seen this wild musical satire of reality TV - made before there such a thing existed. For my money it's the perfect cult movie.

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    Comment number 1.

    Not seen it, but if you want a prophetic piece about reality telly then watch Nigel Kneale's 1968 TV play The Year of the Sex Olympics.

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    Comment number 2.

    I remember turning out for a screening of Rocky Horror (at which the completely uncool cinema staff went ape because the audience was shouting, dancing and - gasp! - firing water pistols during the movie!) and, unbilled, it turned out to be a double feature with Shock Treatment ... which they showed first. It wasn't amusing, it wasn't bemusing, it was confusing. By the time Rocky Horror started, most of the audience was asleep (well, it was a late night screening). But I'd love to see Shock Treatment again, 20+ years later. Some things are just way ahead of their time.

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    Comment number 3.

    Rik Mayall starred in the same year's An American Werewolf In London as a denizen of The Slaughtered Lamb. That film probably paved the way for co-star Brian Glover's subsequent appearence in the hilarious Bottom as Mr. Rottweiler.

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    Comment number 4.

    I must confess that I saw it, was baffled by it, and have since given it away without a second viewing I just didn't like at all.

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    Comment number 5.

    Mr O'Brien is something of a personal hero of mine, everything from Rocky Horror through to the stage production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (in which he managed to play an even creepier Child Catcher than Robert Helpmann), via The Crystal Maze.
    Whilst Shock Treatment can't quite live up to the gothic high camp of Rocky Horror, it is still a wonderful, funny, esoteric treat and the song are sublime;
    Oscar Drill and the Bits' 'Breaking Out' is every bit as good as any Undertones or Buzzcocks single and "Looking For Trade" is genuinely haunting.
    My Halloween will be spent with the triple bill of Rocky Horror, Shock Treatment and De Palma's Phantom of The Paradise, and it shall rock!

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    Comment number 6.

    Mark just when i think ive seen or least heard of everything you pull it out of the bag again, i'll track down Shock Trearment. Meantime can you do a "great films you've never heard of" blog so we can share titles.

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    Comment number 7.

    I think the initial problem with Shock Treatment is that it was released as a follow-up to Rocky Horror, but it wasn't Rocky Horror. The RHPS event was still going strong in Atlanta when I first saw it. The trailer was shown (along with Tim Curry music videos) before RHPS, and it premiered as a midnight movie at the same theater showing Rocky Horror.

    It was marketed exclusively to the Rocky Horror audience, but it wasn't the same.

    The biggest issue was that Brad and Janet were performed by different actors. If I had seen Phantom of the Paradise before seeing Shock Treatment, I probably would have appreciated the appearance of Jessica Harper, but I hadn't, so I didn't.

    I've seen Shock Treatment within the past ten years or so, and I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the first time.

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    Comment number 8.

    Performance - that is the ultimate cult movie

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    Comment number 9.

    I'm a big Rocky Horror fan (who isn't?) and saw Shock Treatment recently on DVD. Thought it was a total mess. A great idea squandered by a paper-thin plot, a squandering of the cast and the second-rate nature of the songs (although 'Bitchin' In The Kitchen' is kind of alright). I was reminded of what your mate Kim Newman said about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - that it seemed to have been directed by someone who not only didn't make the first film, but who never actually saw it.

    For me the ultimate cult film is Flash Gordon. I loved it as a child, I was dismissive towards it as a teenager, and now that I get all the jokes I love it like a brother. Any film with Timothy Dalton in green spandex, Brian Blessed with wings, Max von Sydow being speared by a spaceship and Queen doing the wedding march is just utterly irresistable.

    Honorable mention for The Magic Christian as well - such an odd little film, and a very bitter satire.

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    Comment number 10.

    Oh - and The Bed-Sitting Room.

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    Comment number 11.

    I thoroughly enjoyed Shock Treatment, although it's many years since I've seen it. Looking at your blog, am I right in thinking that Jessica Harper and Cliff De Young are in it. If so, at the time, I didn't realise how wonderful those two are. I was only a wee bloke at the time!!

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    Comment number 12.

    Sorry, off topic here. but im very frustrated,being an old apes fan myself,about not hearing your review of `Rise of the Planet of the Apes.`My guess is itll be like `Waynes Worlds` Wayne`s opinion of Start Trek The Next Generation!! In my opinion Not brutal enough,which is what makes the first Heston movie a cult classic, and a film you can watch again and again.

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    Comment number 13.

    I thought that _I_ was the only one who remembered this, amazing film not seen since the family Betamax died, but just ordered on DVD

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    Comment number 14.

    While I appreciate your inclusion of this film, why I will always prefer Rocky Horror is because of Tim Curry. That's how much a particular actor can sway my opinion, especially with respect to this sub-genre. I agree that there are numerous, good songs in Shock Treatment, and it is visually spectacular. But missing Tim is like how I think Ghostbusters 3 would turn out if Bill Murray were not in it.

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    Comment number 15.

    Just watched it on your recommendation. Thought it had some good ideas but the direction and narrative lacked coherence and overall it's a bit of a mess. Perhaps it improves with repeated viewing.

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    Comment number 16.

    "Rik Mayall, long before he found big-screen success in Drop Dead Fred"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

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    Comment number 17.

    I also like Shock Treatment too Mark, it's a very very strange disturbing film, very trippy but the prediction of reality TV is chilling and it does have some great songs.

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    Comment number 18.

    "1.At 16:43 16th Sep 2011, jlc37 wrote:
    Not seen it, but if you want a prophetic piece about reality telly then watch Nigel Kneale's 1968 TV play The Year of the Sex Olympics."

    I compelely agree with the above post. It was rubbished by certain critics but it now looks horrifyingly propethic in what a population dulled (and desensitised) with a diet of violence and cheap pornography will put on TV. Another brilliant (and scary) TV play by the late, much missed and much under rated Nighel Kneale is The Stone Tape which is one of the most frightening ghost stories ever made for television.

    Getting back on topic, a great cult movie that I shout from the roof tops (and have done ever since it was released in the UK in 1998) is Dark City which stars a very creepy Richard O'Brien in a supporting role. It is so much more deeper and intelligent than The Matrix which came out a year later.

    I did see Flash Gordon last year and love it. It so gloriously cheesy and OTT (especially the Queen soundtrack) and campy.

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    Comment number 19.

    I often think a cult movie can be a movie that was intended to be viewed one way but the audience views it another. So for me, the big screen comedy epic that is "Showgirls" is my favorite cult movie. Yes, I've spelt it right.

    PS - I personally hate The Rocky Horror Picture Show and all it stands for. So I won't bother with Shock Treatment, thanks all the same.

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    Comment number 20.

    I remember first seeing RHPS late night on ch4 back when I was 15 way back in 1985. I didn't know anything about it before watching it on my small black n white portable tv. It had everything a teenage boy could want. I later caught a little of Shock Treatment but have never seen it from start to finish. In a way I always saw Little Shop of Horrors as more of a natural pairing for RHPS.

    @Touchfinder: " I personally hate The Rocky Horror Picture Show and all it stands for" I not sure what you could possibly object too. It's a true morality play for our times.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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