The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960)
Article #1717 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-26-2005
Posting Date: 4-25-2006
Directed by Roger Corman
Featuring Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles

A simpleton is on the verge of losing his job at a florist’s shop on skid row, but is given a chance to keep his job if he nurses a crossbred plant back to health. He then discovers that the plant feeds on human blood….

I can’t believe that it took as long as it did for this movie to finally make it to this series. It’s been a favorite of mine ever since I viewed it on my local Creature Feature, and it was the first movie I ever bought after I purchased a VCR. It’s also one of the easiest movies to find on video, as it is not only in the public domain but easy to market as well (just put it together with THE TERROR and market it as a Jack Nicholson double feature). For me, it was also one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen.

I still love the movie to this day. It has a dizzying array of memorable characters and great performances. Jonathan Haze gives his best performance as Seymour Krelboyne, the hopeless incompetent who is forced to turn to murder in order to keep his job; Jackie Joseph and Mel Welles are also excellent as the dim but lovable Audrey Fulquard and the testy but greedy Gravis Mushnik, both of whom spout malaprops with alarming consistency. There is also a man who eats flowers (Dick Miller), Seymour’s hypochondriac mother (Myrtle Vail), a woman in need of a constant supply of carnations for the funerals of her many relations (Leola Wendorff), a sadistic dentist (John Shaner) and his masochistic patient (Jack Nicholson in a hilarious cameo), two dragnet-style cops (Wally Campo and Jack Warford) whose only real method of detection is to be in the right place in the right time. There are other characters as well, but in many ways, I think the real star is Charles Griffith, who was given by Roger Corman the task of cloning his script for the successful BUCKET OF BLOOD, and did such an amazing job of converting a dark satire into a slapstick farce that unless you were aware of it, you might not notice that the story is same in both of the movies. Furthermore, Griffith plays four roles in the movie as well, most notably as a burglar who tries to rob Mushnik and the voice of the plant, Audrey Jr., and he does such a fine job in both roles that it’s a shame he didn’t do more acting. To this day, I still find it one of the funniest comedies around, and a perfect example of just how good a low-budget movie can be with a strong script and a good cast.

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