Wednesday, 20 November 2013

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

I've seen the 1986 movie musical Little Shop of Horrors a couple of times. That's based on the off-Broadway show, which is in turn based on The Little Shop of Horrors. The original work apparently began as a lark, when Roger Corman decided to see if he could beat own speed record for shooting a film. That record had just been set at 5 days, but The Little Shop would blow it out of the water: being filmed in a mere 2 days, using recycled sets from two other films. The script, too, was produced at a run, and specifically tailored to make use of the sets available. That a halfway decent movie emerged at all is a testament to writer Charles B Griffith and the efforts of the cast (also recycled, being basically the same people as appeared in A Bucket of Blood).

Of course, 'halfway decent' is a long way from 'good', and in many ways this film is a zanier but sloppier and less engaging re-tread of A Bucket of Blood. You have the same downtrodden social outcast who moons over a girl (though in this film his interest, when revealed, is at least initially welcomed). You've got the same more or less accidental discovery of something that will make him popular and successful at last. You've got the same accidental violence leading to greater success, the same mentor figure who dicoveries the grisly secret but whose greed stops him from saying anything, and the same escalation to more and more intentional violence before the protagonist is undone by his own creation. But it seems clear that in the long run, zaniness won out, as The Little Shop of Horrors remains the much better known picture, despite not being as good overall.

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