Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Growing up I was familiar with the Frank Oz musical film Little Shop of Horrors, and had no idea that was it was actually a remake. The original film is not a musical, but otherwise shares much of the same plot. It was hard for me to not make comparisons as I watched this one, but I think they both shine in their own ways.

If you manage to find a DVD copy of this film, you'll probably see it labeled as starring Jack Nicholson, which is very misleading. While Nicholson's part is an absolute must see, it's only a small role. If you're familiar with the 1986 movie, it's the same role that Bill Murray plays in that one. He's a masochist who goes to the dentist office in order to be hurt, and he plays it so over the top it's just hysterical. Beyond that one scene the actors are all unknowns, unless of course you've seen enough Roger Corman films that you know the actors he normally works with.

I didn't really know what to expect going in to this film. I had never seen any of Corman's work previously, but I had heard stories. The stories are very similar to what you hear about Ed Wood and Uwe Boll films - using the same actors, reusing sets, story ideas being made up either shortly before or as the movie is being made. Plan 9 from Outer Space is hilarious, but not an actual good film. Imagine my surprise when I realized just how strong this one actually is.

The dialogue is sharp and witty for the most part, and the movie moves at a decent pace. There's also a silly chase scene toward the end of the film that is pretty funny. The horror elements aren't bad either, as we see Seymour feed Audrey II actual body parts and watch the plant grow bigger and bigger. It is low budget, so you can't expect anything too impressive here, but for the time period and style of film I think it works perfectly. At only 70 minutes long and in the public domain, this is definitely a film you should check out some time. I highly recommend it.

I also recommend the 1986 version. Ellen Greene, who plays Audrey, has a voice that can get on your nerves, but since it's being played for comedic effect it's really not that bad. With a team like Alan Menken and Howard Ashman writing the songs, you probably expect them to be good, and you're right. It also has much stronger actors, including Rick Moranis, Steve Martin, and the aforementioned Bill Murray. It ends a bit differently than the original film, but I'm okay with both endings. A different ending that was closer to the original was apparently rejected by test audiences, but we're supposed to see that on the Blu Ray release next year.

So the only decade I have left now is the 1980s. The films I've chosen also star two of the actors mentioned in the above paragraph, and if you haven't figured out what I'm referring to by now, then I guess you slept through the 80s. Perhaps you could make a phone call and find out. But who are you going to call?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails