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Little Shop Of Horrors

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Little Shop Of Horrors

Starring: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph
Director: Roger Corman
Rated: NR
RunTime: 70 Minutes
Release Date: September 1960
Genres: Comedy, Horror

*Also starring: Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Myrtle Vail, Jack Nicholson, Marie Windsor

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Dragan Antulov review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review
2.  Brian Koller read the review movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review

Review by Dragan Antulov
3 stars out of 4

The magic world of cult cinema is a place full of surprises for those film-loving souls brave enough to wander through it, guided by nothing but the hearsay. Sometimes, cult movies lauded as masterpieces turn out to be incredible disappointments, eroded by time and surpassed by the more recent authors who had used it as an inspiration for much better material. That was often the case with Roger Corman, writer, producer, director and one of the legends of American movie legends. Most often referenced as prolific producers of B-movies, whose company encouraged young talents and future directorial stars like Coppola or Demme, Corman was also lauded as director himself. His films, in most cases, didn't stand the test of time very well, and the author of this review often wandered what was so special about Corman. But not any more since he saw some of his true gems of late 1950s and early 1960s. Among them the best known film is LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS, 1960 dark comedy with the cult following that spawned Broadway musical and, later, movie version of its own by Frank Oz in 1986.

The plot of the film is set in Skid Row, the bad neighbourhood of Los Angeles where Mr. Mushnik (played by Mel Welles) owns a not so profitable flower shop. His financial frustrations are accompanied with the obvious incompetence of his clumsy clerk Seymour Klerboined (played by Jonathan Haze). The only thing that could save Seymour's job is a strange plant he had grown and named after his beautiful colleague Audrey Fulquard (played by Jackie Joseph). The plant begins attracting customers and Mushnik changes his mind about firing Seymour, at least as long as he can take care of it. It looks like almost impossible task until Seymour discovers that the plant feeds on human blood. At first, Seymour sheds his own blood to keep his treasure alive, but the plant is growing and its demands are impossible to meet. Soon, Seymour must choose whether to let the plant die or start killing people.

LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS became the legend not on its own merit as a film, but because of the apocryphal stories about its creation. Corman shot entire film in less than two days, with a minimal budget, cheap and soon-to-be-torn-down production sets and bunch of street bums as extras. It is very visible on the finished product - film looks very cheap, unpolished and sometimes even pathetic, at least compared with the lavish production values of its 1986 remake. But the insufficiencies of the production were more than compensated with the extremely funny script by Charles B. Griffith (who appears in the cameo role of burglar). The humour of the film is very dark and trashy, although rather tame for today's Tarantinoesque standards, and the viewers are quickly drawn into the story and its weird characters. And this film features whole bunch of them, all played by relatively unknown, but in this case, perfectly cast actors. Jonathan Haze is excellent as Seymour, Mel Welles is perfect as his neurotic boss and Wally Campo and Jack Warford give perfect spoof of Dragnet-like cops. Jackie Joseph, on the other hand, is rather inferior to Ellen Greene playing the same role in 1986 version. There are plenty of great actors in small roles here, but the best known of them all is young Jack Nicholson as masochistic dental patient, one of the first in long series of twisted characters that would later make him famous. All in all, LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS is a film that is hardly a masterpiece, but it is entertaining enough to deserve all the love felt by generations of cult classic aficionados.

Copyright 1999 Dragan Antulov

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