Rocky Horror: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again was made and broadcast by Fox for Halloween in a valiant attempt to remake the 1975 classic. However, scouring fan reviews on IMDB, the only remarkable thing about it is how low the score is; the highest rating I saw was a 4 with most giving it a 1 out of 10. Now, perhaps it wasn’t the best adaptation, which from watching most of it (I couldn’t face the whole thing) I can attest too, however, this isn’t the real problem. The issue is that it is a remake of something that is so decisively beloved by so many – indeed, a ‘cult classic’ – it didn’t stand a chance.
This seems to be a paradox we are stuck in now, a loop of remakes and sequels, remakes and sequels. They bring in money at first – attracting an audience if only through morbid curiosity – but don’t seem to encourage a fluctuating and growing creative market. At this point a second film is pretty much expected, and whilst some remakes and sequels can be quite well respected, you have to pick your franchises and pick your audiences.
This seems to be part of the new phenomenon of creating multi-film franchises out of one plot. This seems to have its roots in the teen genre and the ease at which teenagers will be willing to have their fandoms extended: Twilight: Breaking Dawn (2011, 2012) parts 1 and 2, Mockingjay (2014, 2015) parts 1 and 2, Deathly Hallows (2010, 2011) parts 1 and 2, The Hobbit (2012, 2013, 2014), all three films made out of a 300-page book and now, 5 movies to be made out of Fantastic Beasts And Where to Find Them. For films outside of these mostly teen audience, however, it is almost as if people live to go and see the sequels if only to disprove them. The response to the new Ghostbusters (2016) film, for instance, seemed to be one of genuine surprise that it was any good – we expect remakes to be bad, yet they are consistently made and we consistently see them, and this seems to continue the spiral of remakes which no one really seems to want.
Rocky Horror: Let’s Do the Timewarp Again (Fox, 2016), seemed to want to cash in on the Halloween success of the film but instead alienated people (pun completely intended) and get their backs up by treading well-worn territory. The major problem with the new Rocky Horror: Let’s Do the Timewarp Again was that it was too different to be good. The music was different, the cast was different, the dancing was different. In fact, it was actually slightly better in terms of choreography and sound/visual quality. Therein lies the problem. It doesn’t have the nostalgic feel of the shaky camera, and wobbly sets, or the glimpse of the Boom appearing in the top of the screen every now and again.
Arguably, the desire to remake it was a valiant idea of Fox’s part, but the ‘poor’ quality of the original is part of its charm, and removing that makes the film feel wrong. Perhaps remakes are acceptable in large franchises, where they can be forgotten and laughed about, but in a small, cult remake – one that is remade nearly every year in the theatre with absolutely no changes other than cast – it just won’t work. You are selling to an audience of critics who may bite initially, but will never be impressed.
Overall, the temptation to make a remake of such a popular film with such a die-hard audience is tempting and I can see why Fox would want to do it. But because it remains so popular in the model it is now, there is no room for update, and, I would argue, even if the new version of The Rocky Horror Show was the best thing ever, it would still be a flop. So, stick to bigger franchises that have room for expansion, or franchises that need reviving, but don’t mess with the cult classics – they are ‘cult’ for a reason.