Study Guide

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Quotes

  • Sexuality and Sexual Identity

    CHORUS: But it's the pelvic thrust that really drives you insane.

    This famous line from "The Time Warp" isn't just a fun dance move, it foreshadows later in the movie when everyone goes wild with lust after some late-night hookups in the castle.

    FRANK: I could show you my favorite obsession. I've been making a man with blond hair and a tan and he's good for relieving my…tension.

    Your typical Dr. Frankenstein type—a type you should watch out for when swiping through Tinder, btw—doesn't usually make monsters for, um, bedroom purposes. But Frank reveals himself as a different kind of mad doctor, who's making a "monster" to pleasure himself with.

    BRAD: Brad Majors. This is my fiancée, Janet "Vice."

    JANET: Weiss.

    Brad's little Freudian slip here either means he is subconsciously aware of Janet's kinkiness, or he is not-so-secretly hoping for her to be less innocent than she appears to be.

    FRANK: How forceful you are, Brad. Such a perfect specimen of manhood. So...dominant. You must be awfully proud of him, Janet.

    Frank initially comes across as gay, because he's created Rocky for sexual purposes and he flirts with Brad with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. But he'll defy those initial impressions later on when he seduces Janet at night. Frank is best described as bisexual or pansexual.

    JANET: Well, I don't like men with too many muscles.

    FRANK: I didn't make him for you! He carries the Charles Atlas seal of approval.

    Janet says this because she doesn't want Brad to be offended. However, within minutes, she declares, "I'm a muscle fan." So it's difficult to tell if she changed her mind, or she realizes something about herself that she never knew.

    FRANK: Yes, yes I know, but it isn't all bad, is it? I think you really found it quite pleasurable.

    Frank is Janet's first time in the sack, but he seduces her by pretending to be Brad. She figures out fairly quickly, but then decides she still wants it anyway. Either Janet is desperate for some lovin' or Frank is really good at what he does.

    FRANK: Oh come on, Brad, admit it, you liked it, didn't you? There's no crime in giving yourself over to pleasure, Brad. Oh Brad, you've wasted so much time already. Janet needn't know, I won't tell.

    BRAD: Well, promise you won't tell...

    Brad also enjoys Frank's advances, and he appears to do so with no shame about engaging in same-sex acts. His only shame comes from the fact that he's cheating on Janet, not that he's sleeping with a man. (Go, Brad.)

    NARRATOR: Emotion, agitation or disturbance of the mind. Vehement or excited mental state. It is also a powerful and irrational master and from what Magenta and Columbia eagerly viewed on their television monitor there seemed little doubt that Janet was, indeed, its slave.

    The "emotion" the narrator is talking about is lust. Janet has discovered her sexuality, and now she's unable to keep it in her pants. For a "good girl" who appears to have walked off a sitcom, this is a shocking development. (Go, Janet.)

    JANET: I'll put up no resistance. I want to stay the distance. I've got an itch to scratch. I need assistance. Toucha toucha toucha touch me. I want to be dirty. Thrill me, chill me, fulfill me. Creature of the night.

    Janet becomes crazed with lust, in a song that seems to parody Reefer Madness, an early "instructional" film that tries to convince viewers that if you succumb to a vice, it will soon take you over.

    FRANK: Give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh. Erotic nightmares, beyond any measure. And sensual daydreams to treasure forever. […] Don't dream it, be it.

    Frank convinces the others to join him in a swimming pool orgy of free love and running eyeshadow. He wants people to be free with their sexuality. At the bottom of the pool is an image of Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam." Adam and Eve may have been created divinely, without sexual intercourse, but no one else is. The image at the bottom of the swimming pool calls out the hypocrisy of demeaning sexuality, when none of us would be here if no one was having sex.

  • Foreignness and the Other

    NARRATOR: I would like, ah, if I may...to take you on a strange journey. It seemed a fairly ordinary night when Brad Majors and his fiancée Janet Weiss, two young, ordinary, healthy kids, left Denton that late November evening. […] It's true there were dark storm clouds, heavy, black, and pendulous, towards which they were driving.

    The contrast between the sunny brightness of the movie's opening scene and the stormy darkness of the s second scene shows us that we are about to enter a world we are unfamiliar with, and one that may be dangerous, as the "other" is often perceived to be.

    BRAD & JANET: There's a light...

    CHORUS: Over at the Frankenstein place.

    BRAD & JANET: There's a light...

    CHORUS: Burning in the fireplace...

    BRAD & JANET: There's a light, light in the darkness of everybody's life.

    The big castle where Frank-N-Furter lives is dark and foreboding and definitely not what Brad and Janet are used to. Despite their fear of the unfamiliar, Brad and Janet hold out hope that the people inside will harbor some goodness.

    JANET: Brad, let's go back, I'm cold and I'm frightened...

    The other is always something that the protagonists of a story—here, two heterosexual white "squares"—find unusual and scary. Janet is the one who voices her apprehension about entering the castle.

    BRAD: They're probably foreigners with ways different than our own. They may do some more...folk dancing.

    Sometimes, the other is something that is secretly appealing to the protagonists. Janet is repelled by the weirdness in the castle, but Brad is strangely attracted to it. When this happens, the protagonist traditionally gets more than he bargained for. Brad is in for some surprises.

    FRANK: Don't get strung out by the way I look. Don't judge a book by its cover. I'm not much of a man by the light of day, but by night I'm one hell of a lover. I'm just a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania.

    Frank enters and immediately declares he's different. His introductory verses, while boastful, are still intended to soothe, or maybe titillate, his timid visitors. He may be different, but he doesn't bite…unless you ask him to.

    JANET: Is he, um, Frank I mean—is he your husband?

    RIFF RAFF: The master is not yet married, nor do I think he ever will be. We are simply his servants.

    Janet's titillated by the prospect of meeting a gay dude. Considering that she's a rural Texas girl in the 1970s, she has probably only heard of this elusive creature, and wonders what one might look like in the wild.

    FRANK: Do you have any tattoos, Brad?

    BRAD: Certainly not!

    Brad reinforces himself as a "normal" and "good" Texas boy by assuring Frank he would never do anything as subversive as getting a tattoo. By the end of the movie, though, Brad will let himself explore the other side by dressing as Frank, and appearing to enjoy it.

    RIFF RAFF: Frank N Furter, it's all over. Your mission is a failure. Your lifestyle's too extreme. I'm your new commander. You now are my prisoner. We return to Transylvania. Prepare the transit beam.

    The film makes a bit of an effort to normalize the inhabitants of the castle, who are weird and foreign to Brad and Janet. Brad and Janet become like them, and there's initially no harm in it. But things soon spiral out of control, showing us that the castle's denizens aren't just harmless freaks, but dangerous cannibal aliens from another planet. Brad and Janet should have stayed in white-bread Denton, Texas after all.

  • Madness

    RIFF RAFF: It's astounding. Time is fleeting. Madness takes its toll.

    "The Time Warp" is the first song inside Frank's castle, and it's when things start to get weird for Brad and Janet. But here, they don't participate in the song; they observe the madness from the outside.

    RIFF RAFF: With a bit of a mind flip.

    MAGENTA: You're into the time slip.

    RIFF RAFF: And nothing can ever be the same.

    MAGENTA: You're spaced out on sensation.

    RIFF RAFF: Like you're under sedation.

    Riff Raff and Magenta address Brad and Janet directly, letting them know that they can't stand to the side and be observers of the craziness. Soon enough, they're going to be a part of it, too.

    FRANK: So, come up to the lab, and see what's on the slab. I see you shiver with antici—pation. But maybe the rain is really to blame. So I'll remove the cause, but not the symptom.

    Frank knows that, by this point, Brad and Janet are intrigued. They want to know what's going on inside the lab, and they probably wouldn't leave even if they had the opportunity to.

    FRANK: And that's how I discovered the secret, that elusive ingredient, that spark that is the breath of life. Yes, I have that knowledge. I hold the secret... to life... itself! You see, you are fortunate for tonight is the night that my beautiful creature is destined to be born!

    Frank's namesake is clearly Dr. Frankenstein, and here he gives a speech every run-of-the-mill mad scientist gives before bringing his creation to life. What makes Frank truly mad is that he isn't making a monster, he's making a hunky man to be his boy toy.

    FRANK: It's something you'll get used to. A mental mind fuck can be nice.

    As we mentioned before, Brad and Janet started off as outsiders, and now, well, madness is something that they're used to. Running around in their underwear and singing with transvestites has quickly become the norm for them.

    FRANK: It's not easy having a good time. Even smiling makes my face ache and my children turn on me. Rocky's behaving just the way that Eddie did. Do you think I made a mistake, splitting his brain between the two of them?

    This is a quick line that gives us some insight into Frank's mad scientist process, and it explains why Rocky's as dumb as a box of rocks. He literally only has half a brain. The monster from Young Frankenstein may have had a crazy person's brain, but he at least it was a whole brain.

  • Love

    RALPH: Hey big fella, looks like it could be your turn next, eh?

    The movie opens with the wedding of Brad and Janet's friends, and the groom suggests that Brad might be next. Love is in the air. But because Janet's saving herself for marriage, it's difficult to tell if Brad is interested in proposing because of love or because of lust.

    BRAD: The river was deep but I swam it. (Janet) The future is ours so let's plan it. (Janet) So please, don't tell me to can it. (Janet) I've one thing to say and that's dammit, Janet I love you.

    Brad declares his love passionately for Janet in song. Who wouldn't want that? Plus, it shows that he's a little edgy by saying "dammit." He looks so milquetoast, he seems like the type of guy who would say "dang" and "sugar."

    EDDIE: Whatever happened to Saturday night, when you dressed up sharp and you felt all right? It don't seem the same since cosmic light came into my life, I thought I was divine.

    Eddie may be a zombie, but he's a sweet zombie, and he feels love. Yet Frank's reaction to Eddie suggests that "love" is an emotion that only zombies with half a brain should experience. He sees love as a defect.

    EDDIE: Hot patootie, bless my soul, I really love that rock 'n roll.

    Eddie's song is a throwback to a fifties-style rock 'n' roll that is outdated and old-fashioned to the other characters in the movie. Continuing our analysis from the previous quote, it is also how Frank feels about love: it is outdated and old-fashioned.

    COLUMBIA: Everybody shoved him. I very nearly loved him.

    Columbia's adverbs here are quite important. In the next quote, she'll tell Frank that she loved him. But Eddie? She "very nearly" loved him. What was stopping her from flat-out using the L-word?

    COLUMBIA: My God! I can't stand any more of this! First you spurn me for Eddie, and then you throw him off like an old overcoat for Rocky! You chew people up and then you spit them out again. I loved you. Do you hear me? I loved you! And what did it get me? Yeah, I'll tell you: a big nothing. You're like a sponge. You take, take, take, and drain others of their love and emotion. Yeah, well, I've had enough. You're gonna choose between me and Rocky, so named because of the rocks in his head.

    Columbia is fed up with the way Frank treats people who love him, and she delivers one of the longest monologues in the movie. It's surprising, considering what a minor character she is. And Frank does what you'd expect him to do: he turns her to stone and shuts her up.

    FRANK: Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate, satin-draped frame? As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry, 'cause I wanted to be dressed just the same.

    In his penultimate number, Frank reveals that he has a complicated relationship with love. He always felt different and wanted to be someone else. Ever since, he has been very guarded with his emotions, to the point that he became callous and insensitive to others.

    RIFF RAFF: They didn't like me! He never liked me!

    Columbia isn't the only one affected by Frank's coldness. It appears that Riff Raff wanted to be loved and accepted by Frank, too, but he never was. This slight ends up coming back to bite Frank, because Riff Raff has no qualms about killing him.