Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Taking Root in Cardboard

My appreciation for Roger Corman's 1960, original version of The Little Shop of Horrors increased quite a bit when I read it was shot in two days and one night. That's a pretty remarkable feat, particularly since there's a lot in the movie that genuinely works.

First of all, the concept, as I said when talking about the 1986 version, is so wonderfully evocative of conflicts between the human as an animal and the human as a more controlled, civilised creature. I said Dionysian versus Apollonian then--in the original move it's maybe closer to Satan versus God. The plant, in this case named Audrey Junior, is in this case more definitely tied to Seymour's bad or weak decisions. Particularly at the end, when the faces of the people Seymour's killed--or collected after death--appear in the buds of Audrey Junior at what's supposed to be Seymour's moment of supreme triumph.

None of the faces in the buds actually resemble the actors but, still, not bad for a forty eight hour shoot.

The biggest flaw in the movie, actually, is something I've noticed in the Roger Corman's movies I've seen on Mystery Science Theatre 3000--he's amazingly consistent at leaving dead space at the top of the frame.

You could actually improve this movie by cropping out the top and making it a widescreen film. Faces are always smack dab in the middle.

The performances aren't too great, except for Dick Miller and Jack Nicolson in a tiny role as the masochistic dental patient, played by Bill Murray in the 1986 version. The obviously sexual quality of Nicolson's screams of ecstasy as the drill went into his mouth were pretty remarkable for 1960.

The performances were otherwise hampered a bit by a compulsion to have everyone behave with a very broad shtick, particularly in the case of Seymour, who was improved vastly in 1986 by Rick Moranis' natural oddness. Though the broadness did suit the cartoonish humour somewhat. I liked Seymour's hypochondriac mother, as I suspect anyone would who's known someone who seems constantly consumed with diseases and illnesses they might catch. The cops are funny, Dragnet parody hard boiled guys. They appear briefly but have my favourite lines in the movie--when one casually mentions he lost one of his kids last night because he was "playing with matches," and responds to his partner's perfunctory words of concern by saying simply, "That's the breaks."

And the other cop introduces himself in narration as "Fink. Detective Sergeant Joe Fink. I'm a fink."
Tags: comedy, dick miller, horror, hypochondria, jack nicolson, little shop of horrors, movies, roger corman, the little shop of horrors

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