Shock Treatment (1981)

PG   |    |  Comedy, Musical


Shock Treatment (1981) Poster

Janet and Brad become contestants on a game show... but wind up as captives instead.


5.8/10
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5 November 2004 | belialprod
It's a comment on the whole RHPS phenomenon
"Shock Treatment", aside from being a hellava lot of fun, seems to be Richard O'Brien's dig at the whole RHPS phenomenon.

Forget about this being a RHPS sequel. It's not. The whole tone is different. RHPS was an affectionate salute to B-science fiction movies of the 50's married to the seventies punk rock movement. "Shock Treatment", if it is related to RHPS at all, is a satire of the whole RHPS fan culture. Consider: "Shock Treatment" takes place in a TV studio where the audience lives 24/7. They live for the highs received from Denton TV, yet are a pretty conservative lot on the whole. Isn't that like the typical RHPS audience where straight laced Brad and Janet types go to the show, enjoy the freakiness for two hours, then go back to their normal, suburban lives? "Shock Treatment" goes to great lengths to satirize the horrors of suburbanity, and the costumed entertainers they worship. The most blatant example? Two of the main characters, who profess to be doctors, turn out to be character actors. Character actors who have great fun in costume and in the end, drive off into the sunset, in a cool new car, back to suburban normalcy.

And you know what? I have barely scratched the surface of what makes "Shock Treatment" so clever. If you've read anything recent written about it, you know the film is a huge piss take on reality television, and a prescient(by over 20 years)parody of our current culture which makes stars of...well, whomever the TV industry, film industry, and Hollywood publicists tell us we should think of as stars. Paris Hilton? Vin Diesel? Even Jude Law. Did we discover these people? No, they were foisted upon us,we were TOLD they were stars, much as Janet is in "Shock Treatment". When Janet wakes up and realizes she wants her real life back, another cute chick is pimped up and easily accepted.

"Shock Treatment" is a very smart movie that works on the intellectual level RHPS did not. Hey, I love RHPS, but it operates from a gut, instinctual level. "Shock Treatment", if you give it a chance, will make you think about the media's grip on society, make you take a second look at the "stars" adorning the covers of magazines such as Entertainemt Weekly, give you a whole new take on the audiences lining up for RHPS every Halloween (unlike the 80's when we went every month or weekend), and, having been made in 1981 (!) add no surprise to the fact that Richard O'Brien is a prescient futurist who made a killing in the stock market.

Heck, I haven't even talked about the fact that "Shock Treatment"s use of primary colors, editing, and music video style sequences, predates the birth of MTV by at least a year. This movie could be called a template for the 80's music video boom.

Lastly, I have to comment on one facet which will either a) draw RHPS fans and non fans to check this move out or b) disregard this entire review. I absolutely, unequivocally, LOVE the music in this movie. Every song is fun in the best tradition of the short lived "rock musical" genre (I often sing a somewhat edited version of "Lullaby" to my kids at bedtime)and, on screen, every song is presented with a strong sense of atmosphere. Come to think of it, this IS "Shock Treatment"s greatest commonality to RHPS, except in RHPS, the atmosphere was dark and cluttered, in "Shock Treatment", it's bright and sterile. Two different settings. Two different themes. Both brilliantly achieved.

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Comedy | Musical

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