St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

Shock Treatment (1981)

Shock Treatment title

Rocky Horror fans, are you ready to rumble? Or, more accurately, are you ready to be bored and confused for an hour and a half? I hope the answer is yes because tonight we bring you Shock Treatment (1981), the movie Richard O’Brien called “not a sequel… not a prequel… an equal” to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Those are big shoes to fill, and I don’t think anyone would blame O’Brien for not making Rocky Horror II. Let’s meet the cast who, spoiler alert, are pretty much the best things about the movie.

Brad Majors

Yep, that’s Brad Majors with his tiny little child mouth stuck in a man’s face. The eagle-eyed viewers amongst you will notice that he’s not played by the same actor from Rocky Horror. You’ll be having that reaction a lot this movie because none of the returning characters are played by the same actors, while some new characters are played by the same actors.

Janet Majors

Ahhh, Janet is played by Jessica Harper! We love her from Suspiria and another cult classic called The Phantom of the Paradise, but she does tend to have this one face. Apparently it drives heterosexual men crazy because she gets relentlessly drooled on by some pointless Nigel in most of her movies.

Barry Humphries

I won’t blame you for not recognizing this left-over Transylvanian, but this is Aussie comedian Barry Humphries who is better known for playing Dame Edna Everidge. Instantly my favorite character because a) it’s Barry Humphries and b) he stole all my clothes. Honestly the camera could have just stayed on Barry Humphries making faces for an hour and a half and I would probably have liked this movie a lot more.

It’s what I can only describe as a fwastika.

So just what the hell is this movie? I wish I knew. Brad and Janet appear on a game show, at the end of which it’s concluded that Brad is an emotional cripple. He and Janet sing a song about kitchen utensils, then Brad gets committed to an asylum for the titular shock treatment. Janet goes on to be a TV star, but the whole thing turns out to be the cockamamie evil plan of Brad’s long lost twin brother who wants to touch Janet in her lady-places. If only he knew all he needed was biceps and a pair of gold underpants.

The Skinny

Richard O'Brien
You knew Richard O'Brien had to be in this somewhere.

Despite a few catchy numbers and a strong start, this goldfish is floating at the top of the fishbowl. It’s largely dull and nonsensical, seeming to want to just swing from one empty, forgettable number to another. It’s got some flashes of real brilliance in there which make you want to like this a lot more, but it’s just so hard. It is sort of worth hearing the kitchen appliance song, though. It’s a great little number, although it does also showcase one of the movie’s core faults, which is that the camera never bloody moves anywhere. Even the songs are so static and lifeless.