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SHOCK TREATMENT - 1 Slimes
Rated PG
Copyright 1981 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 14 April 2007

The Characters:  

  • Brad - Cliff De Young! He spends most of the movie in a cage, with a nice nurse who keeps him sedated and an orderly that changes the paper when he messes.
  • Janet - What is up with her eyes? You could stand right in front of her and she would not see you, because her eyes operate independently. They often wander across the landscape, one watching a rock while the other focuses on a random insect. Maybe she is part chameleon.
  • Cosmo McKinley - Why, it is good old Riff Raff, but with coke bottle glasses. I see that he is still fornicating with his sister.
  • Nation McKinley - She seems rather tame when compared to the other characters.
  • Judge Wright - Well, would you look at that: he does have a neck.
  • Betty - She lost her husband to television and is looking for someone new. Not necessarily young, mind you.
  • Bert Schnick - The blind may not be all that blind, but they are in charge.
  • Nurse Ansalong - Why is it that Little Nell could make anything sound naughty? (Even when she is not wearing a tiny nurse uniform.)
  • Macy and Ralph - A superficial blonde and her annoying boyfriend. It must be TV.
  • Farley Flavors - Cliff De Young (yes, again). Evil man with visions of grandeur and revenge, and not in that order.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

When a movie's opening scene is that of a nearly-deserted television studio, you start to get worried. Then a screaming crowd rushes in through the doors. They take up residence in the audience seating, as everyone starts singing "Denton." This is not good. As songs go, it wallows, and my eyes cannot help but to be drawn to the one ponderous member of the studio audience. Some genius put him smack in the center of the crowd, where it is impossible to miss his sloth-like reflexes. As the crowd sings "Denton," they shift left and right or sometimes jump to their feet. "Mound O Man" always lags behind.

Brad and Janet are also present in the TV audience. The pair sings along with everyone else, allowing Brad to display reflexes (or rhythm) that cause the fat guy to look coordinated. To make matters worse, a pair of spunky and chunky cheerleaders bounces in front of the camera, shaking their pom-poms in the lens to make the cuts more interesting. Both cheerleaders must be using growth-inhibiting hormones. Surely, the girls must be twenty, but everything about them screams fifteen.

Folks, why am I watching this movie? It is after midnight and the bed sounds like a really good idea. Much better than continuing to subject myself to this thing; I am certain that it is going to hurt my feelings.

Safely shrouded in his private box, Mr. Flavors watches the drama unfold with interest. Especially when Brad and Janet are picked to appear on Bert Schnick's show. Pulled from the audience, both seem dazed and confused, but Schnick coaxes Janet into complaining on the air about her husband. What could possibly be wrong with Brad? Well, he is boring (a common problem with husbands, ladies - just ask your mother). How dreadfully awful! He must be committed to Dentonvale, a reality television show hosted by Cosmo and Nation. Get a wheelchair, right away!

Although many of the songs are forgettable, a couple of them are the film's saving grace. One such ballad crops up during Schnick's show. A television is wheeled in front of Brad and, like a good consumer, his eyes are immediately fixed on the tube. A montage of commercials plays while the unhappily married couple sing their frustration to the telly. It all starts with Brad crooning, "Dear blender..." (Yes, I know that the name of the song is "Bitchin' in the Kitchen.")

Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy. Enjoyable moments like that are few and far between.

The suffering couple is ushered into the office of one Doctor Cosmo McKinley, partnered in practice and the bedroom with his sister, Nation McKinley. Brad is given an injection and conks out, allowing the two quacks to gnaw away at the seed of doubt in Janet's mind. That her husband needs help is an undeniable truth. She agrees to have him admitted, but fails to sign the release papers. (Plot point, look at the plot point! It matters, but when they use it you had better not blink, else you will miss it entirely.) Once Brad is out of the picture, Janet is left alone - which was the plan all along. Farley wants her groomed by the doctors to become the first "Ms. Mental Health."

Off on a tangent...no, on second thought, it is not a tangent. It is most certainly a central aspect of the character, reinforced more than once during the movie. Anyway, what the hell is up with Richard O'Brien's fascination with creating a character for himself who engages in sexual relations with his sister? Extraterrestrial incest rears its fright wig head in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and emerges full-blown in this, the troubled sequel. If you want to dig even deeper, what about cross-dressing? During the manipulation of Janet to make her a suitable television personality, Cosmo sews her a little black dress. While he does this, he sings about the joys of dressing up in just that type of garment. There are other ways to be weird and creepy besides sleeping with your sister and wearing clothing intended for the opposite gender.

Janet's tumultuous rise to fame causes a lot of waves in the Denton studio. Matter of fact, the change spells doom for a show hosted by Judge Wright and Betty. They find themselves supplanted, dropped, cancelled, deprived of coffee mess privileges, and locked out of their office. Devoid of a purpose, they wander around the studio, looking for a trace of the conspiracy that doomed their boring commentary.

Goaded into further excesses of self-worth, Janet begins to turn into a completely different woman. She dances through the audience, singing about "Me, me, me!" Observing from his control room, Mr. Flavors laughs with obvious pleasure at Janet's deflowering. Feel sorry for Brad, because he remains confined to a cage at the center of the mental health clinic. We can turn the movie off (goodness, how I am resisting the urge), but the discarded husband has no such failsafe. Hey, here is a frightening idea: What if all the singing and dancing we see is only the tip of the iceberg? The camera can only be in one place at a time you know. Maybe, while I suffered through Janet's latest musical tirade, dozens of other painful tunes were being choked through on another part of the set.

I am not having a good time. It is after one in the morning and I want to go to bed. Please can I go to bed? Please? Please?

Concerned by the explosion of their female patient's ego, the doctors begin a gentle treatment regime of heavy sedatives. That works pretty well, other than causing Janet to lapse into a coma and sit, staring at a wall. Am I mistaken or do her eyes actually focus straight ahead of her when she is drugged? Hooray for modern pharmaceuticals! Give her some alcohol; let's see if we can make her go cross-eyed.

Everyone else might be distracted by the lights and cameras, but not Judge Wright and Betty. They dig up some interesting facts by accessing a computer, then free Brad from his cell. When the indignant young man confronts Farley, the shocking truth is revealed to the studio audience: Brad and Farley are twins, separated at birth! The two men have a sing off, vying for supremacy and possession of Janet's soul. Upright citizen that he is (swell guy, just boring), Brad defeats his evil sibling. Fat lot of good that does; Farley has the only police officer around on his payroll. The good guys are locked up in an office and everyone else streams into the sanatorium, singing yet another outrageous song.

That is it! It is now in the wee hours of the morning and I feel like someone has been flogging me with a bar of soap inside a sock. This movie totally kicked my butt.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Television studios are constructed from giant sheets of marshmallow wafer.
  • Marriage is like cooking with a blind man.
  • Dangerous mental ward patients are kept in a special canary cage.
  • Astroturf requires regular mowing.
  • The cast and audience of television shows sleep on the set.
  • Some drugs are administered via GS (which stands for "gargle and shake").
  • Used car salesmen are the largest consumers of tartan and argyle in the world, accounting for more than eight million yards per year. That is an average of forty-two yards per used car salesman.
  • The British invented a musical version of seppuku.
  • Referee shirts were inspired by the design of quality straight-jackets.
  • Bobby pins can be used to pick locks or to hotwire a car.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 3 mins - Brad, do you remember where your manhood ended up the last time somebody said that? Yeah, him.
  • 8 mins - I have another "F" to add, but you can't say that on television.
  • 22 mins - Who wrote these awful songs?
  • 26 mins - For the movie hitting on the wrong notes anyway - a throwaway racist dig.
  • 39 mins - A song just used the word "treacle."
  • 45 mins - RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST GLASSWARE!
  • 48 mins - RANDOM ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST PRIVACY SCREENS!
  • 61 mins - Not another one. No, no, no, arrgggghhhhh...
  • 72 mins - You know, I have some nose hairs that need plucking. I could be doing that right now, instead of watching this cursed movie!
  • 87 mins - Some people should have been stopped eighty minutes ago.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

FileDialog
Green Music Note shocktreat1.wav Brad sings to the blender.
Green Music Note shocktreat2.wav Janet's Mom: "Don't you want your daughter to look pretty?"
Janet's Dad: "Who's she got to look pretty for?"
Janet's Mom: "She's got a husband."
Janet's Dad: "She's got a weirdo!"
Green Music Note shocktreat3.wav Janet: "Hi, Brad. I've just come to tell you how fabulous I am."
Brad: "Mmmpggghhh!"
Green Music Note shocktreat4.wav Farely: "Take no notice of him. He's mad!"
Brad: "I'm as sane as you are - saner!"
Cosmo: "And he was only with us for one day."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 

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 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipshocktreat1.mpg - 3.8m
The studio audience sings along with the cast as the broadcasting day begins for Denton TV. This goes on for about five minutes, so there are only ninety minutes remaining. Wait, where are you going?

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 [2]
Re: Shock Treatment
Reply #9. Posted on November 04, 2008, 10:46:24 PM by Steve
While I'm also a major, major Rocky Horror fan, I *love* Shock Treatment!  It's nowhere near as bad as you make it sound.  It just tends to throw people off that it's a totally different style of movie than RHPS, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it's its own unique entity.

And it's damn fun to see in a theatre full of other ST fans too! :-)
Re: Shock Treatment
Reply #10. Posted on August 01, 2010, 11:39:22 AM by Kathy
I think that all of the problems with this film is studio involvement - as someone said before - trying to manufacture a cult film. 

Did you know that the studio released it for midnight showings only from day one and hired people to act it out in the theater a la Rocky Horror.....like they were priming the pump, so to speak?

But I think that under all the extra songs and crap that the studio pushed for, Richard O'Brien created a new Network.  Only this time for reality TV of today.  Television (owned and overseen by the big-business "monopoly" that is Farley)  manages to talk the entire population of Denton into voluntarily committing themselves to an institution run by a quack.  Only the "weird" people see through it and escape.

Look at all of the shows we have now of people being filmed 24/7 and people being "psychoanalyzed" over the air (from Oprah with her new age stuff to Dr. Phil...who I think has his Doctorate in Physical Education...or maybe that's Dr. Laura) and then go back and look at this movie again.  O'Brien was ahead of his time, IMHO.

Then again, maybe that's why the studio screwed with it....to keep that message from getting out.
Re: Shock Treatment
Reply #11. Posted on June 24, 2011, 02:52:07 PM by the_voice_of_reason
It went against my better judgement to watch this 'film' but I was persuaded. I watched in anticipation of something which could pass as a storyline or even the remote signs of talent, but instead I was subjected to a barrage of half witted 'actors' try to further their careers and getting it so so wrong I felt embarrassed for them. Maybe it was this title that coined the phrase 'straight to video'
For those who call this 'a cult film' I think you need to learn to spell...
Re: Shock Treatment
Reply #12. Posted on August 03, 2011, 12:42:49 PM by FatFreddysCat
I was a major "Rocky" geek in college but I've only seen "Shock Treatment" once and that was YEARS ago. I vaguely remember enjoying it to some degree but being disappointed that "Brad" and "Janet" were played by different actors. The only cast member I recognized was Richard O'Brien.

I've often thought about revisiting it one of these days but have never gotten around to it.
Re: Shock Treatment
Reply #13. Posted on March 08, 2012, 05:42:35 PM by Rev. Powell
It's not great, but I don't think it's nearly as bad as the haters say. It's confusing, has obvious script problems, and tries to throw too many characters trying way too hard to be quirky at you. But, it's never boring, which counts for something. I didn't hate it but I doubt I'll be popping it in the DVD player again.

Richard O'Brien, on the other hand, basically disowned the movie and wants nothing to do with it. He even refused to be interviewed for the DVD featurette.
Pages: 1 [2]
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