“I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey,” a narrator says as The Rocky Horror Picture Show gets underway.
The word “strange” only begins to cover it. In Rocky Horror, a young, seemingly ordinary engaged couple, Brad Majors (Barry Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Susan Sarandon) get stuck with a flat tire and stumble upon a castle. It belongs to Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Tim Curry), a mad and gloriously flamboyant scientist who introduces himself as a “sweet transvestite” from Transylvania.
The place turns out to be chock full of ghoulish and gaudy characters, including the doctor’s Igor-like assistant named Riff Raff (Richard O’Brien), a rock ‘n’ roll biker (Meat Loaf), Magenta the maid and a carnivalesque groupie named Columbia. There’s also the doctor’s creation: a beautiful, muscular man he calls Rocky (Peter Hinwood). “In just seven days, I can make you a man,” Curry sings in the film. “Dig it if you can!”
O’Brien, the original writer of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, first started gathering ideas for the story when he moved to London in his early 20s. “I was in Mick Jagger’s front room in 1965,” he told The Guardian in 2020. “I was friends with his then-girlfriend, [model] Chrissie Shrimpton, and she introduced me to the rockocracy. England was swinging like a pendulum. There was nowhere better to be on the planet, and I went for it.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show has been bewitching viewers with its outrageousness ever since, especially around Halloween. It first debuted in 1973 as a stage production at London’s Royal Court Theatre, where the play met the moment entirely with its rock-infused soundtrack, gender-bending roles and sex-heavy plot. The narrative technique where innocent bystanders fall prey to what lurks in the shadows is as old as theater itself, but O’Brien made it feel brand new. “The fact that Frankenstein was now wearing a corset might keep them entertained,” he once said.
A film adaptation followed two years later but didn’t immediately make an impact. Instead, Rocky Horror steadily developed a cult following, eventually earning a place at the forefront of musical films. In 1981, a follow-up film titled Shock Treatment was released – but it wasn’t a “sequel,” per se. The cast included a handful of actors from Rocky Horror, including O’Brien, but failed to generate much interest or money.
Decades later, the original remains one of the most beloved releases in film history, with regular theatrical returns and live shows produced around the world. We know what happened to Brad, Janet and the rest of the Rocky Horror Picture Show cast at the end of the movie, but what happened to the actors who played them? Read on to find out.
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