The greatest man to ever wear fishnet stockings, Tim Curry is the undisputed star of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which continues to be beacon of all things wonderfully filthy after all these decades. In celebration of the man, the voice, and the corset, we take a look back at some of his greatest hits: from making an enemy of Macauley Culkin to terrorising children as a clown. Along the way, expect to find a lot of singing.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show defines the phrase “cult classic”. Campy, ridiculous and with a cracking soundtrack, Rocky Horror has won legions of fans the world over for its liberal use of sex, dancing, more sex, and axing Meatloaf to death. The musical, written by Richard O’Brien of The Crystal Maze fame, stars Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon as innocent couple Brad and Janet, who find themselves stranded at the castle of Dr Frank-n-furter (Curry) one stormy night. Taking inspiration from the story of Frankenstein, Frank-n-furter is building a man, Rocky, to be his lover, while Brad and Janet find themselves caught up in the debauchery of the Transylvanians. Curry’s entrance into the film, after the crowd-pleaser Time Warp, is one of the greatest in all of cinema. A towering figure in a corset and lurid make-up, Frank-n-furter announces himself as a “sweet transvestite from transexual transylvania”, and really, if you were to meet an alien cross-dresser who builds people for sexual gratification, you’d expect that alien to have the affected singing and speaking voice of Tim Curry. It’s a tour de force of camp B-movie glory, inspiring millions of midnight screenings, audience participation rituals, singalong events and Halloween costumes. Maybe by the 40th anniversary, it will have become its own religion.
In this sequel about a child with clearly psychotic tendencies facing off against the dumbest and yet most indestructible criminals alive, we move the action to New York. In this instalment, the worst parents in the world lose young Kevin in the airport, so that he ends up on the other side of America at Christmas. A young, abandoned child needs somewhere to stay to plot how to inflict physical pain on Joe Pesci, and so we see the entrance of Tim Curry as a posh hotel receptionist. Like everyone in the Home Alone universe except for creepy old dudes or homeless bird women, Curry finds Kevin immediately untrustworthy, and makes another, even less formidable enemy for him than the Wet Bandits are. But it’s all very funny.
It is actually a miniseries, but we’ll include it here regardless. This adaptation of Stephen King’s novel sees Tim Curry play an interdimensional lifeform that takes the appearance of his prey’s worst fears. Terrifying already, but note also that his most frequent disguise is that of the utterly horrifying Pennywise the Clown, taking the fabulous but slightly sinister make-up from Rocky Horror and dialing it up to eleven. Curry’s performance received universal acclaim for embodying all that was so terrifying from Pennywise in the novel, but he goes a step further, building on that initial horror with something uniquely Curry, utilising his body language and unique voice to great effect.
This animated classic was reviewed in full during our "Week of Williams" celebration of Robin Williams’ life and workhere. It warrants a place on this list also for Tim Curry’s incredible voice work as the villainous Hexxus, and especially for his singing prowess on the musical number Toxic Love. Never has the spirit of destruction sounded so sensual.
In this 1982 film adaptation of the more upbeat of child orphan musicals (whatever Annie went through, at least she never had to deal with a monster like Bill Sykes, unlike poor Oliver Twist), Tim Curry plays Rooster Hannigan, the con-artist brother of cruel alcoholic orphanage runner Miss Hannigan. Along with his sister and girlfriend Lily, Rooster has dollar signs in his eyes when the rich Daddy Warbucks takes an interest in young Annie. While the film itself is hardly a triumph, thanks to Curry’s vocal talent and naturally smug charisma onscreen (I’m sure he’s lovely in real life), Easy Street becomes one of the best numbers in the film.
The Worst Witch Movie
Okay, in no way am I suggesting that The Worst Witch Movie is a great film, but Tim Curry’s performance of the song Anything Can Happen on Halloween is too amazing not to include.