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After the Fall of the Hammer:
Frankenstein films from the early 1970s to the 1990s


The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

          While Young Frankenstein was a parody of Universal's Frankenstein films, the musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show, directed by Jim Sharman and written and composed by Richard O'Brien, can partly be seen as a parody of the Hammer Frankenstein films. The centre of The Rocky Horror Picture Show is Dr. Frank'n Furter (Tim Curry), a bisexual extraterrestrial, who creates the artificial human Rocky. According to film critic Norbert Stresau, Frank'n Furter is the logical consequence of the seemingly asexual Peter Cushing. Frank'n Furter is a bisexual monster in suspenders, who creates a monstrous muscleman in a Hammer laboratory (complete with a huge aquarium, from which the bandaged Monster is lifted) and cures the American middle class of its petit bourgeois morale (2), when he introduces the all-American couple Brad and Janet to unknown sexual pleasures. 

          Some critics see the narcissistic component of the Frankenstein story realised in the Rocky Horror Picture Show (3). Frank'n Furter, who proclaims total sexual liberation, is an impersonation of Frankenstein's narcissistic side. Only if a narcissistic interpretation of the novel Frankenstein is not considered, Frank'n Furter's motives for creating the artificial human being Rocky seem to be different from Frankenstein's. Frank'n Furter wants to create an object of lust, a "sex toy" made according to his own beauty ideals. He creates Rocky to "relieve my tensions", unlike Frankenstein, who made the Monster for the benefit of mankind. But according to Joseph Kestner (4) even in the novel Victor is driven by narcissism: His narcissistic longing for another person in the novel leads to the creation of the Monster, "the Inadequate Other, which is in reality Victor himself". Therefore Frankenstein and Frank'n Furter are actually not that different from each other, except of course for the suspenders and bra. 

Frank'n'Furter (Tim Curry) in his laboratory

          Frank'n Furter's narcissistic tendencies reach a climax when he celebrates an orgy with androgynous doubles of himself in his swimming pool. In the end he is killed by his "faithful handyman" Riff Raff, a character inspired by the Fritz character from Whale's movie, who no longer tolerates Frank'n Furter's excesses. Just as Frankenstein had to die because of his transgression in creating the Monster, Frank'n Furter is punished for the attempt of creating a society, in which morale and petit bourgeois standards are replaced by sexual liberation.

Cast & Crew:  
Frank N'Furter Tim Curry
Janet Susan Sarandon
Brad Barry Bostwick
Riff Raff Richard O'Brien
Eddie Meat Loaf
Narrator Charles Gray
Rocky Peter Hinwood
Screenplay Richard O'Brien
Jim Sharman
Music Richard O'Brien
Cinematography Peter Suschitzky
Producers Lou Adler
John Goldstone
Michael White
Director Jim Sharman



1 cf. Stresau, Norbert, Der Horrorfilm (Munich: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1987) 134.
2 cf. Eichler, Rolf, "Die Frankenstein Rezeption in der Rocky Horror Picture Show". Mary Shelley's “Frankenstein“: Text, Kontext, Wirkung; Vorträge des Frankenstein-Symposiums in Ingolstadt (Juni 1993). Ed. Günther Blaicher (Essen: Verlag Die Blaue Eule, 1994) 112-114
3 Kestner, Joseph, "Narcissism as Symptom and Structure: The Case of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein", Frankenstein: A New Casebook, ed. Fred Botting (London: Macmillan, 1995) 69


Young Frankenstein The Bride