In 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show arrived in cinemas. The musical comedy horror – based on the 1973 stage musical, The Rocky Horror Show – was directed by Jim Sharman, and starred Richard O’Brien, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick, Patricia Quinn, Meat Loaf, and Charles Gray.
For those who still haven’t watched the movie yet (seriously, what are you playing at?), The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows the story of engaged couple, Brad and Janet, who find themselves knocking on the door of a country home, after their car breaks down. Here they meet a group of unusual people, including a mad scientist (and alien) called Dr. Frank N. Furter, and madness ensues.
As the story progresses, Brad and Janet get caught up in Frank N. Furter’s plan to create a man in his laboratory (the eponymous Rocky) and they all take part in various song and dance routines. The most notable song amongst these is the iconic pop ditty, ‘The Time Warp’, which is as good as you imagine.
Of course, if you’re learning all of this for the first time then you might want to check out the movie for yourself. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a cult favourite, which has continued to increase in popularity over the decades, so now could be the right time for you to take a look.
But if you watch the movie, and enjoy it, where do you go next? Is there a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel?
The answer is both yes, and no.
There is not a direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show, so try as you might, you won’t find it. You see, despite the movie’s continual popularity, the original film did not spawn a Rocky Horror Picture Show: Part II or a Rocky Horror Picture Show Returns.
However, the movie did get a ‘spiritual’ follow-up called Shock Treatment, which was released in 1981. The film – directed by Jim Sharman and co-written by Sharman and Richard O’Brien – features several cast members from the original movie, but largely focuses on a new story, a new setting, and new characters.
Set in a TV studio, Shock Treatment is a different beast to its predecessor and is best viewed as a standalone piece. The film also never received anywhere near the same level of success the original movie did, and is now largely only remembered by die-hard fans.
So, why didn’t a Rocky Horror Picture Show sequel happen? Well, it was largely down to director Jim Sharman not being a huge fan of what was being proposed by creator, Richard O’Brien.
Richard O’Brien created the original stage show, before going on to co-write the original movie with Sharman. Once the first film was a hit, he was keen to develop a sequel, so got to work on a screenplay.
However, this is where the movie hit a big stumbling block. Sharman didn’t like what O’Brien had written.
Speaking to Mark Kermode in 2015, via Kermode’s podcast, The Soundtrack of My Life, O’Brien said: “I turned (the screenplay) into (producer) Michael White and he and John Goldstone, our line producer, read it and actually said to me ‘this is the best first draft of a screenplay we’ve ever read’.
“The two of them agreed on that and I was very thrilled with that. And then they said we should get Jim involved, Jim Sharman, and I said ‘that’s a great idea’.
“And he turned up at my place, and I thought we were going to go on, and he said ‘I think you should throw this up in the air, and er, and forget about it’. And I went ‘oh, well that’s a bit weird isn’t it?’
“And so, we moved away and I went I think probably, six, seven drafts of shifting it around (before) we finally wound up with Shock Treatment, set in a TV studio.”
Describing the differences between Rocky Horror 2 to Shock Treatment, O’Brian said the two stories were completely different. He commented: “I had Rocky coming out of the ground, out of the rubble, dragging the inert and lifeless body of Frank behind him, and Dr. Scott reanimating them… and so (with Shock Treatment) we were way, way away from that.”
Although plans for a direct sequel fell by the wayside, not everything was scrapped. Shock Treatment did retain Brad and Janet (albeit with new actors), while the song ‘Breaking Out’ – a tune written for O’Brien’s original sequel – was incorporated into this follow-up.
So, was that the end of it? Well, not quite.
Ten years after the release of Shock Treatment, O’Brien worked on another script, which he also intended to be a direct sequel to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. However, this too never happened, despite his best efforts to get it off the ground.
Titled, Revenge of the Old Queen, the movie looked like it could become a possibility in the early ‘90s. But unfortunately, the idea was shelved and it has not been revisited since.
Did this stop O’Brien in his tracks? Nope – he tried a third time in the late ‘90s/early ‘00s, with yet another proposed direct sequel.
This movie, titled Rocky Horror: The Second Coming, would have made its debut as a stage production first, with the possibility of becoming a movie at a later date. However, this project struggled to get off the ground, and it also fell by the wayside.
In the years that followed, the idea of making a direct sequel to Rocky Horror Picture Show have pretty much been abandoned. The original actors are now much older, have health complications, or have passed away, and this has made a direct sequel a non-starter.
Instead, the focus in recent years has switched to reworking or reviving the original. The television show Glee dedicated a whole episode to Rocky Horror back in 2010, while in 2016 a reimagining of the movie was released under the title, The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.
This low-budget TV movie starred Laverne Cox, Ryan McCartan, Victoria Justice, Reeve Carney, and Adam Lambert. The film – a remake of the original – was directed by Kenny Ortega and aired on Fox.
So, if you’re itching for a Rocky Horror Picture Show: Part II, then I’m afraid you can’t have it. It is also unlikely to ever happen – but it did come close on a number of occasions.
The best advice I can give is to enjoy the original, continue to watch that one over, and over, and over again, and if you are really curious, maybe take a look at Shock Treatment. It won’t be the sequel you want, but you may enjoy it nonetheless.
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