Sadly, though Shock Treatment is a noble effort, the confused satire on television and psychiatry holds nothing up against the wild outrages of the original. The themes lack focus and the film has none of the naughtily perverse kick that made the homage to science-fiction and Frankenstein movies wrapped up in a gender-bender glitter rock musical so endearing to cult audiences in the original.
Nevertheless, Shock Treatment has its small joys. The great and underrated Jessica Harper from The Phantom of the Paradise (1974) and Suspiria (1977) steals the show as Janet her marvellously assured performance here should be counted as Harpers finest screen moment. Her number Little Black Dress is one of the films highlights. (Why Jessica Harper subsequently vanished into obscurity and never attained greater recognition is a great mystery).
Unfortunately, what Shock Treatment conspicuously lacks is the presence of a Tim Curry at the centre of it Curry had found himself typecast after Rocky Horror and refused to return for those reasons. The film compensates somewhat with Barry Humphries (aka Dame Edna Everage) in a genuinely bizarre performance as the blind tv host Bert Schnick. Even so, Barry Humphries never holds the whole show pinned to him the way that Tim Curry did in the original.
The songs are, if anything, better than those in the original of course, the soundtrack for Shock Treatment has not achieved the same kind of cult recognition that the original did. The sets are drenched in the eye-numbing colours of tv commercials, which director Jim Sharman bumps and grinds his camera through with oddball stylism. There is one marvellous little musical number that comes with the camera continuously peeping in through the windows of the various characters. However, it all feels a little worn and forced.