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LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS





mrgutterminds
Little Shop of Horrors, an adaptation of the early ‘80s Off-Broadway musical hit inspired by a 1960 Roger Corman-directed, Jack Nicholson-starring B-movie of the same name, was one of my favorite films when I was a kid. It’s so filled with campy energy and disparate elements that I half expected when rewatching it to find it worse than I remembered, or at least something that I would have to chalk up as a guilty, nostalgic pleasure. To my delightful surprise, my critical response hasn’t shifted that much in the last fifteen years or so. It probably elicits that same reaction precisely because the film relies on our willingness to indulge our tastes for guilty pleasures and nostalgia. Though the direction is not the most inspired imaginable considering the wonderfully silly subject matter (a flesh-eating plant is a central character), Frank Oz moves things along briskly enough that you can’t for a moment grow bored and his tone denies any questioning of plausibility, whether practical or emotional. The movie’s only a 94 minutes long, but includes over a dozen songs (written by the sorely missed Howard Ashman and Alan Menken), most of which serve to advance the plot. The ones that don’t surprisingly provide interior monologues for the 2-D, but entertaining, characters, and establish a disarming romantic side that sticks with you. The film’s dopey sentimentalism works precisely because the movie is such a self-aware pastiche of genres past that it’s practically a required element.



It doesn’t hurt much that the performers are more than game for this material. Though Ric Moranis as Seymour, the straight-man nebbish botanist hero, is definitely better than average, the supporting cast provides the most memorable moments of the film. Ellen Greene is hilariously chirpy as the wistful girl next door that catches Seymour’s eye. She fluffs her clichéd role up to the point that it transcends kitsch and finds something genuine. A trio of doo-wop singers provides a catchy Greek chorus. Steve Martin has perhaps the best role of all, though, in what’s really an extended cameo. He plays the most sadistic of movie dentists here, and the macho posturing in his body language is absolutely priceless (he kick starts his dental chair like it’s a motorcycle). Introduced at the precise moment when the film might start to feel a bit one-note, he reinvigorates the picture. A scene in which a sado-masochistic patient (Bill Murray) finds his way into his dental chair is one of the funniest scenes in all ‘80s comedies, with two comic geniuses at the top of their form. Special mention must also go to Audrey II, the boisterous, singing plant that the plot revolves around. The special effects used to make this puppet come alive are utterly convincing, in their cartoon-like way, and I can’t think of a CGI-created character that’s surpassed it in invention or character (surely some of the credit must go to Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops, who provided its voice). Every element in Little Shop of Horrors works nearly as successfully as the plant does, though. The film represents a rare example where Hollywood has applied itself rigorously to material that might somehow seem beneath it with wholly satisfying results.

Any else watch this movie and enjoy it as much as I did?
HoboPelican
I saw both movies and while I liked the Rick Moranis version, there is just something about the first one that is sooooooo bad you have to love it (or hate it, I suppose!)


FEEEEEEEEEEED MEEEEEEE!
Laughing Laughing Laughing
Traveller
Not only is this one of my favourites, but I can also imitate the voice of Audrey II. I've been using "FEEEED MEEEEEE, SEYMOUR, I'm HUNNNGRYYY" (with the voice) as a response to "Hey, are you ready to grab something for lunch" for years!

Ironic, isn't it, that I - a missionary - would enjoy cannibalistic, dark-comedy movies so much. Other favourites include Sweeney Todd (the original play, not the more recent, garbage, and *gasp* Eating Raoul.

"The guy sure looks like plant food to me!" Smile
HoboPelican
Traveller wrote:
.....and *gasp* Eating Raoul.

"The guy sure looks like plant food to me!" Smile



LOL. I swear, as I was reading your post, I was gonna make a comment about "Eating Raoul"! Laughing


BTW - I am not allowed to do the "feed me" line anywhere near my wife. Not because she finds the line offensive, but because I can't do it well enough!
Traveller
HoboPelican wrote:
BTW - I am not allowed to do the "feed me" line anywhere near my wife. Not because she finds the line offensive, but because I can't do it well enough!

LOL! Well, that's one of a few I can do spot on, since the voice is low enough. If I try to do popular singers, for example, the men usually sound like girls, and I just can't reach that high for very long. Ironically, however, if I let my falsetto break completely, I can actually sing the high part of Frankie Valli's "Sherry" (also spot on), but I'm really hurting by the time I get to "can you come out tonight," so that's as far as I can get. Thus, I stick to voices within my own range, such as Jimmy Stewart ("I-I-I'd like t-t-o introduce you to a fr-fr-friend of mind"), Gordon Lightfoot (especially "Don Quixote"), Neil Diamond (still needs a little work, but I can usually do "Longfellow Serenade"), and Roger Whittaker (especially "Durham Town").

As to Eating Raoul, I guess that's one of those "guilty pleasures." It certainly is not a high-quality, glossy movie (especially if you know anything about the history of its budget and production), but it's just fun. All I'll add to that is: "trail mix?" LOL!
lycadia
I love Little Shop of Horrors!

Unfortunately, I've never been about to see the Jick Nicholson version, but I have the Rick Moranis version and have seen it played live by my university's drama department which was a total treat!

It's much more witty then Rocky Horror Picture Show yet it occupies that same over the top musical comedy sort of space in my heart.

Incidentially, I've been using the line, "the guy sure looks like plant food to me" since junior high school to indicate someone I think is a horrid human being and wouldn't miss if he fell off the face of the earth. It's just so perfectly to the point, yet wry and amusing to me.

Thank you for starting this thread! Just talking about Little shop has cheered me up. Now I think I'll go watch it again.
ylmun
lycadia wrote:
I love Little Shop of Horrors!

Unfortunately, I've never been about to see the Jick Nicholson version, but I have the Rick Moranis version and have seen it played live by my university's drama department which was a total treat!


Did you really just use the word "treat"? Confused

One word made the Rick Moranis version so nifty: SteveMartin.
Traveller
lycadia wrote:
Unfortunately, I've never been about to see the Jick Nicholson version, but I have the Rick Moranis version and have seen it played live by my university's drama department which was a total treat!

Having seen that version, I would say the newer, musical version is MUCH better. Jack Nicholson was good, of course, but the movie could hardly be called his version, since it was his first film, and it was a small part. In fact, if Jack Nicholson's part were the naming standard, then the newer movie would have to be called the "Bill Murray" version.
carlospro7
Little shop is hilarious. I got to be the bum that says "then you go..." in the Skid Row song for one of my high school plays. Unfortunately the trio was a little messed up, but we had a good pcast. The guy who played the dentist for example is going into theater this year at Marymount Uni, and another is going to berkley college of music. It's a good show, and I'd love to see it on stage with professionals playing the roles someday.
disidro
I love this movie!!! I've only seen the newer version, but I wouldn't mind seeing the old one. What can you say about "Downtown", my favorite corny-but-still-lovable musical song of all times...? It's charming Razz
Manofgames
my school did a version of it.

didn't see it but it sounded really good.
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