The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Another title I’ve managed to finally scrub from the “blind spots” list, and—I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again—I can’t believe I never saw this years ago like I should’ve done. I’ve seen a bit of the musical version, but never the original, which is a bit ridiculous given that the original is kind of legendary for the extreme speed (two days three nights) and cheapness (circa $30,000 apparently) with which it was made; it is probably the best-known (and likely the best) example of Roger Corman saying “we’ve got some sets left over for a couple of days, let’s make another film with them”. I think I vaguely knew Shop was a horror comedy, and I was pleased to see just how well it balances those elements… the horror is there, obviously, in the form of Audrey Jr, the somewhat mutated Venus Flytrap with a taste for human flesh, but if anything it actually probably works even better as a comedy, albeit one of a distinctly weird kind; Jack Nicholson’s small role as the man who enjoys the dentist a little too much really is quite jaw-dropping. The remarkable thing is that pretty much everyone in the film is really good at whatever they’re doing, particularly Jonathan Haze as Seymour, Audrey Jr’s hapless creator, and Mel Welles as Mushnick the florist (apparently American International didn’t want to release the film cos they thought Mushnick was an anti-Semitic caricature, despite Welles himself being Jewish), but Dick Miller’s less flamboyant turn as the man who eats flowers is rather sweet as well. Corman himself apparently didn’t want to make another comedy after Bucket of Blood (whose sets this reused), but let us be thankful that he did; this really was terrific stuff that I should’ve hunted down a lot of years ago.

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