Saturday, March 27, 2010

Roger Corman Week - Day 6 - Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Well, kiddies, with today's feature we come to the end of Roger Corman week. (Tomorrow I'll be presenting Chapter 3 in our ongoing Flash gordon serial, and then next week it's back to the regular rotation.) It's been a fun ride, and a great look back at one of my (and i hope by now one of your) all-time favorite producer/directors. And I've definitely saved one of his most legendary films for last.

Toward the end of 1959, Corman found out that he was going to have short-term access to sets that were going to be left over from another production. He also faced a deadline because at the end of the year the rules regarding royalties that went to actors on a production were going to change and he was going to have to change the way he paid them. Facing both of these challenges, he decided he would use the last week of the year to squeak out one last film before the new rules went into effect and he lost the sets. Assembling a cast consisting mostly of actors he had already worked with including perennial character actor Dick Miller and relative newcomer Jack Nicholson (who had just starred for Corman in the film The Cry Baby Killer, only his second film role), Corman quickly threw together a script and spent three weeks in rehearsals. The film itself was shot, as Corman says, in "two days and a night".

Despite the rushed shooting schedule, the finished film is actually a quirky little gem. Nicholson, of course, steals his few scenes as a masochistic dentist's patient, but the three main roles, Johnathan Haze as Seymour, Mel Wells as Mr. Mushnick, and Jackie Joseph as Audrey, are all very entertaining as well. Even Myrtle Vail, who plays Seymour's bed-ridden mother seems almost archetypical in her misery.

For those who don't know, the basic plot of the movie centers around Seymour Krelboin, a young man working at a florist's shop on Los Angeles' Skid Row. When he (again!) mixes up a delivery order, his boss, Mr, Mushnick, threatens to fire him. Seymour is only able to save his job by showing his boss a hybrid plant that he has developed which he has named after his co-worker and long-time crush, Audrey Fulquard. Knowing that people will come into his shop to see the odd plant, Mushnick gives Seymour his job back, but only if he can perk up the little plant, which seems to be dying. After trying various plant foods and fertilizers, Seymour is working late at the shop one night when he pricks his finger. This leads him to the discovery that what Audrey Jr. really needs to thrive is human blood. At first, the small plant is content with eating only the blood from Seymour's fingers, but as it gets larger, so does its appetite. That's when Seymour also discovers that the odd little plant can talk, as it begins to demand, in ever more insistent tones, that Seymour "Feed Me!".

From that point on, Seymour finds himself in an ever-increasing cycle of violence as the plant grows larger and larger and demands more and more food until Seymour finds himself contemplating the ultimate crime to keep his charge satiated and keep his job - murder!

Upon first seeing his flick when I was but a wee little Perfessor, I'll tell you, it really stuck with me. Especially the images of Seymour feeding various body parts to the plant and his ultimate fate. Upon rediscovering it in college, it was the humor of the film that really struck me. This is definitely a movie that belies its quickie origins and shows just how much Corman could do with so little.

Here's a trailer:

And the Skinny:
Title: The Little Shop of Horrors
Release Date:1960
Running Time: 70min
Black and White
Starring: Johnathan Haze, Mel Welles
Directed by: Roger Corman
Produced by: Roger Corman
Distributed by: The Filmgroup Inc.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


Post a Comment

Unless otherwise noted, all movies discussed on this blog and all associated materials are believed to be in the Public Domain. If you are a copyright holder for any of these materials, please email me. Unless otherwise noted, all material created for this blog by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons license as described below. Creative Commons License
Professor Damian's Public Domain Treasure Chest by Professor Damian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Powered by Blogger Blogger Templates create by Deluxe Templates. WP by Masterplan