The Little Shop of Horrors  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Little Shop of Horrors is a 1960 American comedy film directed by Roger Corman. Written by Charles B. Griffith, the film is a farce about an inadequate florist's assistant who cultivates a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood. The film's concept is thought to be based on a 1932 story called "Green Thoughts", by John Collier, about a man-eating plant.

However, Dennis McDougal suggests that Griffith may have been influenced by Arthur C. Clarke's sci-fi short story from 1956, "The Reluctant Orchid" (which was in turn inspired by the 1905 H. G. Wells story "The Flowering of the Strange Orchid"). Mythology about man-eating plants dates back to at least the 1800s, and probably much earlier.

The film stars Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, and Dick Miller, all of whom had worked for Corman on previous films. Produced under the title The Passionate People Eater, the film employs an original style of humor, combining black comedy with farce and incorporating Jewish humor and elements of spoof. The Little Shop of Horrors was shot on a budget of $28,000, with interiors being shot in two days utilizing sets that had been left standing from A Bucket of Blood.

The film slowly gained a cult following through word of mouth when it was distributed as the B movie in a double feature with Mario Bava's Black Sunday and later with Last Woman on Earth. The film's popularity increased with local television broadcasts, in addition to the presence of a young Jack Nicholson, whose small role in the film has been prominently promoted on home video releases of the film. The film was the basis for an Off-Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors, which was notably made into a 1986 feature film and enjoyed a 2003 Broadway revival, all of which have attracted attention to the 1960 film.

The film's musical score, written by cellist Fred Katz, was originally written for A Bucket of Blood. According to Mark Thomas McGee, author of Roger Corman: The Best of the Cheap Acts, each time Katz was called upon to write music for Corman, Katz sold the same score as if it were new music.

Plot

Penny-pinching Gravis Mushnick owns a florist shop which is staffed by himself and his two employees, the sweet Audrey Fulquard and clumsy Seymour Krelboyne. The rundown shop gets little business. When Seymour fouls up the arrangement of Dr. Farb, a sadistic dentist, Mushnick fires him. Hoping Mushnick will change his mind, Seymour tells him about a special plant that he has grown from seeds he got from a "Japanese gardener over on Central Avenue."

Seymour admits that he named the plant "Audrey Jr.", a revelation that delights the real Audrey.

Seymour fetches his sickly, odd-looking, potted plant, but Mushnick is unimpressed. When it is suggested that Audrey Jr.'s uniqueness might attract people to see it, Mushnick gives Seymour one week to revive it. The usual kinds of plant food do not nourish the plant, but when Seymour accidentally pricks his finger he discovers that the plant craves blood. Fed on Seymour's blood, Audrey Jr. begins to grow and the shop's revenues increase due to the curious customers who are lured in to see the plant.

The plant develops the ability to speak and demands that Seymour feed it. Now anemic, Seymour takes a walk along a railroad track. When he carelessly throws a rock to vent his frustration, he inadvertently knocks out a man who falls on the track and is run over by a train. Guilt-ridden but resourceful, Seymour collects the body parts and feeds them to Audrey Jr. Meanwhile, Mushnick returns to the shop to get some cash and secretly observes Seymour feeding the plant. Mushnick considers telling the police, but procrastinates when he sees the line of people waiting to spend money at his shop the next day.

Seymour arrives the next morning suffering from a toothache and so he visits Dr. Farb. Farb and Seymour fight after the doctor tries to get even for his flowers having been ruined. Grabbing a sharp tool, Seymour accidentally stabs and kills Farb. Although horrified, Seymour feeds Farb's body to Audrey Jr. The unexplained disappearances of the two men attract the attention of Sergeant Joe Fink and his assistant Officer Frank Stoolie, who are take-offs of Dragnet characters Joe Friday and Frank Smith.

Audrey Jr., which has grown several feet tall, is beginning to bud, as is the relationship between Seymour and Audrey. A representative of the Society of Silent Flower Observers of Southern California comes to the shop and announces that Seymour will receive a trophy, and that she will return when the plant's buds open. While Seymour is on a date with Audrey, Mushnick stays at the shop to see that Audrey Jr. does not hurt anyone else. Mushnick finds himself at the mercy of a robber who believes that the huge crowds must indicate the presence of a large amount of money. Mushnick tricks the robber into thinking that the money is with the plant, which crushes and eats him. After Seymour is forced to damage his relationship with Audrey to keep her from discovering the plant's nature, he confronts the plant asserting he will no longer do its bidding. The plant then employs hypnosis on Seymour and commands him to bring it more food. He wanders the night streets and knocks out a street walker to feed Audrey Jr.

Lacking clues about the mysterious disappearances of the two men, Fink and Stoolie attend a sunset celebration at the shop, during which Seymour is to be presented with the trophy and Audrey Jr.'s buds are expected to open. As the attendees look on, four buds open and inside each flower is the face of one of the plant's victims. Fink and Stoolie realize Seymour is their culprit; he flees from the shop with the officers in pursuit. Seymour manages to lose them before eventually making his way back to Mushnick's now empty shop. Audrey Jr. demands, "Feed me!" Seymour curses the plant, grabs a kitchen knife and climbs into Audrey Jr.'s maw, saying, "I'll feed you like you've never been fed before!"

Later that evening, it is discovered that Audrey Jr. has begun to wither and die. One final bud opens to reveal the face of Seymour, which pitifully moans, "I didn't mean it!" before drooping over—apparently ending the life of Audrey Jr.

Cast

  • Jonathan Haze as Seymour Krelboyne
  • Jackie Joseph as Audrey Fulquard
  • Mel Welles as Gravis Mushnick
  • Dick Miller as Burson Fouch
  • Myrtle Vail as Winifred Krelboyne
  • Karyn Kupcinet (as Tammy Windsor) as Shirley
  • Toby Michaels as Shirley's Friend
  • Leola Wendorff as Mrs. Siddie Shiva
  • Lynn Storey as Mrs. Hortense Feuchtwanger
  • Wally Campo as Sergeant Joe Fink
  • Jack Warford as Officer Frank Stoolie
  • Meri Welles (as Merri Welles) as Leonora Clyde
  • John Herman Shaner (as John Shaner) as Dr. Phoebus Farb
  • Jack Nicholson as Wilbur Force
  • Dodie Drake as Waitress
  • Charles B. Griffith (uncredited) as Voice of Audrey Jr. / Screaming Patient / Kloy Haddock
  • Jack Griffith (uncredited) as Drunk
  • Robert Coogan (uncredited) as Tramp

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The Little Shop of Horrors" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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