The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

The Little Shop of Horrors
Director: Roger Corman
Writer: Charles B. Griffith, Roger Corman
Cast: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, Karyn Kupcinet, Toby Michaels, Leola Wendorff, Lynn Storey, Wally Campo, Jack Warford, Meri Welles, John Herman Shaner, Jack Nicholson, Charles B. Griffith
Seen on: 17.4.2021

Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) has a small flower shop on Skid Row, always worrying about his shop’s continued existence. He has two employees, Audrey (Jackie Joseph) and Seymour (Jonathan Haze), but Seymour is not exactly the greatest at his job. When Mushnick threatens once again to fire him, Seymour tells him about an unusual plant that he has been growing and that might be a customer draw. Mushnick gives Seymour one more chance to prove his worth. The plant – nicknamed Audrey Junior – is unusual indeed, not just in the way it looks, but also in the (bloody) care it needs.

The Little Shop of Horrors is a fun film, even if not all its jokes work all that well anymore in today’s context. But overall, I really enjoyed it.

The film poster showing the drawing of a man holding a small potted flower. There is a vine around his feet that goes to a huge flower that is about to bite his head off.

The Little Shop of Horrors is strange even before Audrey Junior is ever introduced. Every character here (but the original Audrey and maybe Seymour himself) seems to live in a reality that is slightly, but substantially different from ours. Starting with the customers in the flower shop – one who has to buy flowers for yet another funeral every day, another who orders a bouquet of carnations as his lunch and complains about the lack of taste of flowers from the bigger stores – to the two police officers who take on the case.

Amid these characters, a speaking (voiced perfectly by Charles B. Griffith), carnivorous plant seems absolutely plausible, and that Audrey Junior is just one of the strange things in this world really makes the charm of the film.

Seymour (Jonathan Haze) feeding Audrey Junior.

Well, that and the film’s sense of humor that seems to delight in the strangeness of its characters without reducing them to gimmicks for the most part. Wilbur Force (Jack Nicholson – who I didn’t recognize) and Leonora Clyde (Meri Welles) are the exception to that and their short appearances made me cringe a little for the jokes they are, though the fantastic portrayals by both Nicholson and Welles make them kind of work still. Overall, it’s Seymour in particular, though, who gets a lot of emotional space that keeps the film from feeling like just empty joking.

The film obviously didn’t have a lot of budget, but it isn’t actually necessary for it to work. In fact, you barely notice, you get so caught up with the characters and Audrey Jr and the delightful sense of out-of-this-worldness this film gives us.

Seymour (Jonathan Haze) telling Audrey (Jackie Joseph) that he named his plant after her, with Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) and Fouch (Dick Miller) standing by.

Summarizing: you should absolutely watch it.

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