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Liberty International presents
A Regular Frankie Fan (2001)

"Its past was a failure. But its future is already a legend."
- Narrator (Paul Williams)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: May 17, 2002

Stars: Paul Williams
Director: Scott Mabbutt

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, language, sexuality)
Run Time: 01h:12m:37s
Release Date: October 30, 2001
UPC: 801805080095
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B- B-C+B- B-

DVD Review

If you're not familiar with The Rocky Horror Picture Show (read the review!) then this Scott Mabbutt-directed documentary about the film's rabid fan base will no doubt seem extremely odd and unclear. However, if like me, you've been to countless midnight showings of the whacked-out musical, and have experienced the fervor in person, then watching A Regular Frankie Fan will be akin to a visit with an old friend; it's sometimes funny, sometimes aggravating, and mostly enjoyable. Filmed in a bare-bones, shaky-camera documentary style, this is really a film about the fans, and not The Rocky Horror Picture Show itself.

In most cities where Rocky Horror plays on weekends at midnight, the theaters are literally taken over by not just an army of ravenous fans, but by groups of elaborately costumed "casts" who not only dress as the film's characters, but also act out the scenes (complete with props) at the base of the movie screen, while it plays virtually ignored behind them. It's a loud, raucous party environment, and Mabbutt has captured the essence of the excitement, warts and all.

The documentary features some minimal narration by Paul Williams (Phantom of the Paradise), and a good 95% of A Regular Frankie Fan is a series of seemingly random interviews with assorted members of various casts, as well as footage of their productions. Some cast members seem a little too media savvy, and ramble on with some occasionally pompous comments, such as the guy who said Rocky Horror creator (and star) Richard O'Brien "is as close to what Jesus should have been like." For what is essentially a glorified lip-synching, these folks get waaaay into their roles, and a few of them display some actual little star trips, which seemed just a bit weird to me. While the interview segments are not necessarily really content-heavy, most of them are still fairly entertaining.

The best moments occur when the cameras capture the goings-on inside the theater, and it's then that A Regular Frankie Fan made me genuinely nostalgic for my own bygone Rocky Horror days at Chicago's Biograph Theater. These productions are far more elaborate than anything I've ever been to, but Mabbutt conveys the excitement level, the sheer mutual enjoyment of the film and its built-in social circle accurately and warmly.

The runtime is a lightweight 75 minutes, and there were only a few spots where the pace dragged on a bit. If you're a fan of Rocky Horror, and have seen it in a theater, then A Regular Frankie Fan might be a nice way to get that warm fuzzy feeling again. If you've only experienced it on DVD, then this might be a hip way to see what you've been missing.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: First, the disc appears to have been created incorrectly, because when viewing on a 4:3 set, the image appears in sort of an unnaturally compressed 2.35:1 aspect ratio, which tends to make people look a bit squished. However, if you set your player to 16x9, the image then will play at the normal 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Not really that big of a deal, but it is odd. Otherwise, image quality varies, as it was shot on video under an array of different (and often poor) lighting. Colors have a slightly washed out look to them, but look consistent throughout the transfer. Image detail, likewise, changes from to good to fair and back again fairly often.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: There are two choices (5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo) included, though the slightly rough source material doesn't really require an aggressively mixed audio track. The 5.1 might be overkill here, as it's primarily assorted talking heads, but the mix is pretty clean overall. There are a few token surround cues here, which could easily be mistaken for a bleed from the front channels, and their presence is a minor enhancement to the sound stage. The sound quality, like the image, varies dramatically, but even at its worst it is clear. The 2.0 stereo mix, while noticeably flatter than the 5.1, is equally adept at delivering the content cleanly.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 1 cues and remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Scott Mabbutt
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Convention Footage
  2. Special Performance
  3. Photo Gallery
  4. How To Be A Regular Frankie Fan
Extras Review: The full-length (well, almost) scene-specific commentary from director Scott Mabbutt is well meaning, but it really seemed unnecessary. He doesn't offer much additional insight into the whole Rocky Horror fan phenomenon, and much of the time it's just him identifying various interviewees by name; I really thought A Regular Frankie Fan spoke for itself, and didn't require any additional explanation. There are a number of silent gaps, and to make matters worse, the audio for the documentary is completely muted on the commentary track so when Mabbutt stops speaking it is totally quiet. He does talk briefly about what was involved in turning the "jigsaw puzzle" into a completed film, but a large part of his comments are of the we-shot-this-here or that's-so-and-so.

The Convention Footage (07m:27s) is a humorous Rocky Horror version of Cabaret, featuring a large ensemble of various cast members. The footage is a bit grainy, but the performance is darn entertaining. The Special Performance (02m:49s) is a pseudo-music video from Throttlebody doing their version of Sweet Transvestite, which is also played over the closing credits.

A photo gallery of 34 images, How to Be a Regular Frankie Fan (a text-based Top 10 list), a theatrical trailer, and assorted weblinks complete the disc's extras.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

This lovingly made, sometimes uneven, ode to the fans of Rocky Horror was fun to watch, but it made me feel really old. One of the cast members reminisces about how he's a seasoned vet because he's been into it since 1989. HA! HA! HA! I laughed in my Geritol as I remembered, back in my day, when I first saw Rocky Horror in 1978....

Don't dream it. Be it.


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