LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960)

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Little Shop of Horrors Cover Imagine if you will. You're a young Jack Nicholson, and after making a number of small cameo appearances in both film and television, you're next assignment is to play a dentists patient in this low budget flick. So what do you do about it, huh? Say 'No' perhaps? Or say 'Yes' to the Director: Roger Corman; and his Actors: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, and Dick Miller. But only for about 70-minutes in 1960, OK?


Little Shop of Horrors


THE STORY:
Do you know what? If I was in Seymour Krelboyne's (Jonathan Haze) shoes at the moment, I'd be one very depressed botanist. Well, if it wasn't bad enough that he has to deal with a neurotic mother, Winifred Krelboyne (Myrtle Vail), plus a boss who wants to keeps on sacking him all of the time, Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles). To top it all off, he has that peculiar looking plant to keep happy as well.

Hold up! You do know of the feisty foliage I'm referring to, don't you folks? It's that strange looking pot-plant he's named after his pretty work college, Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph), which is even stranger than his plant-eating customer, Burson Fouch (Dick Miller).

Yeah! That's correct. 'Audrey Junior' is its name. And this green looking mother needs blood to stay alive, which will in turn bestow luck onto Seymour's place of work located in Skid Row.

Alright. I know what you're thinking to yourself. So where does Seymour get the blood from, to feed Audrey Junior with, right? Now at first, he uses his own ample offerings. However, once he doesn't have a drop to spare, over time Seymour inadvertently feeds this sinister shrub some chap who died in the train yard, whom his boss, Mister Mushnick, witnesses from afar.

Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all goes bananas when Seymour accidentally kills his own dentist, before bumping into his next patient, Wilbur Force (Jack Nicholson). As two detectives jump on a case - a florist has to save some face - love is overshadowed by a monstrous bloom - and at the end of the day, everything spells doom and bloody gloom.




THE REVIEW:
Now if you watched the 1986 version of 'The Little Shop Of Horrors' before you got to watch this one, I suggest that you try forget about it, OK? Or otherwise you would spend half your time trying to piece together what the differences are between these two great films.

Yeah. I'm afraid to say that's what I did prior to perusing this production. And this was one of the main reasons why I missed how spectacular this movie actually was when I first sat down and watched it.

Little Shop of Horrors DVD Cover
You see, from my historical perspective, this is one masterful piece of filmmaking, because it manages to combine character, plot, and drama, all together, and then amalgamate these three elements with a heavy dose of dark witty humour and warped pathos. Moreover, what it also manages to do is show that you don't really need special effects to create a gruesome tale. What you need instead is actor's who can act, a story that tells an evolving story, and a jovial premise that has all the style and grace of an animated adventure fit for a cartoon.    

Granted, on the negative side of 'The Little Shop of Horrors', there were moments that the joviality behind this piece did run away with itself. Like in that scene where Audrey Junior hypnotises Seymour, thus prompting him to run into a prostitute. Also, here and there, there were a number of frustrating plot glitches that should have been explained better than they really were. Like the reason why Mister Mushnick didn't come clean with Seymour's nocturnal activities.


Little Shop of Horrors Film Poster


Jack Nicholson in Little Shop of Horrors
Still, apart from these two slight gripes, overall this was one smashing film. Here. Look at the fact: (1) 'Filmgroup' released this $28 thousand dollar production on the same day that the 'Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries', OPEC, was first set-up -- the 14th of September, 1960. (2) Even though this low budget flick was officially shot in two day's and one night, the actor, Johnathan Haze, publicly stated that he was called back a few weeks later for some additional re-shoots. (3) Before he agreed to transpose this baroque narrative onto celluloid, Roger Corman turned down three alternate script ideas posed to him. The first script was your basic run of the mill detective type story. The second script was a Dracula themed yarn. And the third script was about a salad chef who cooked his own customers. (4) Allegedly the concept behind this adventure was loosely based on a 1932 story created by John Collier, called 'Green Thoughts'. It was about a man-eating plant. (5) Most of the sets used in this movie were left over from another Roger Corman horror-fest, 'A Bucket of Blood'. (6) Regular Roger Corman player, Dick Miller, was originally going to play the part of Seymour Krelboin in this film. But for some strange reason he turned it down in favour of the flower-eating Mr. Fouch instead. (7) Not only did Charles B. Griffith write most of the screenplay, and make a number of unaccredited cameos in this adventure, but he also unintentionally provided the voice for Audrey Junior too. Well, I say 'unintentionally', because his vocals were only supposed to to be used for the other actors to work off of, yet, Roger liked them so much, he kept them in the flick. (8) There are two obscure references in this film that are very obscure indeed. The first one has to do with the name of the character, 'Siddie Shiva' -- because it's a pun on the phrase 'sitting Shiva', referring to a Jewish funeral ritual. And the second one is when Seymour says that he got the seeds from a Japanese gardener who found them in a 'plantation next to a cranberry farm' -- because it was announced a or so year prior to production, that cranberry crops had been tainted with traces of the herbicide aminotriazole, resulting in cranberry sales to plummet.



The Cast of Little Shop of Horrors 1960


In my book 'The Little Shop of Horrors' is a great-great film. And in my estimation deserves its place as an all time classic, rightful for all of the praise it has been bestowed with since its creation. Don't you agree you alternate take on the 1986 movies ending?




That was a 'yes', OK?

THE RATING: B+