Monday, 19 August 2013

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986)

Based on a stage musical that was based on the original 1960 film, Little Shop Of Horrors (a Roger Corman movie most famous for being shot in only two days), this black comedy features a great cast belting out some great tunes in between some memorable set-pieces.

Rick Moranis plays Seymour Krelborn, a young man working in a flower shop owned by the needy and greedy Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia). The fortunes of both the store and Seymour start to look better when he discovers a new type of plant, a plant that he names Audrey II, after the woman he works alongside (played by Ellen Greene). Unfortunately, the upturn in fortune comes at a price. Audrey II (voiced by Levi Stubbs, of The Four Tops) doesn't grow or flourish unless it's given a very specific diet. A diet of blood.

Directed by Frank Oz, with a screenplay by Howard Ashman (who also worked on creating the songs with Alan Menken), Little Shop Of Horrors is a near-perfect package of comedy, thrills and genuinely enjoyable songs to sing along to. Like almost any musical, there are some that are better than others, but songs like "Skid Row", "Da-Doo", "Grow For Me", "Some Fun Now", "Dentist" (which remains my personal favourite), "Feed Me (Git It)" and "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" are so strong that they make up for any of the slightly weaker numbers. Unlike most musicals, however, there isn't one song that I would consider bad. That's as much thanks to the execution of the material as it is thanks to the lyrics and musicality of each number.

Moranis is as good as he usually is in the main role, no stranger to playing a kind-hearted chump, and Gardenia and Greene are both perfect for their characters, with the latter especially enjoyable as a sweet blonde bombshell stuck in an abusive relationship with her dentist boyfriend (Steve Martin, almost stealing the entire movie with his hilarious scenes). Levi Stubbs has a superb voice to use for Audrey II and the plant at the centre of all the attention is brilliantly made real, thanks to the audio mixed with some superb practical effects work. You'll buy into it the scenario very quickly, despite the artificiality and ridiculousness of the whole thing.

John Candy, Billl Murray, Christopher Guest and James Belushi all turn up in very enjoyable cameo roles, and it would be remiss of me not to mention Crystal (Tichina Arnold), Ronette (Michelle Weeks) and Chiffon (Tisha Campbell) - the three women, named after classic girl groups from the '50s and '60s, who provide a number of the main songs and most of the backing vocals.

People who have already seen the movie will already be fans (I haven't met anyone yet who has seen it and disliked it) while anyone who hasn't seen it yet . . . . . . . . . . . . . . needs to change that ASAP.


Despite the technical specs, this version will apparently play on all players -


  1. I love Frank OZ's work and this is up there with his best stuff. I didn't know, however, that the film was shot in two days... incredible!

    1. Hi Dan, glad to find a fellow fan of Oz. I genuinely struggle to think of a bad movie that he's done. I have just edited the opening paragraph, I didn't realise how it read. The 2-day shoot was actually the old, Roger Corman movie. I think this take on the material needed quite a bit more time for the shoot.

  2. I have the sound track to this film on my i-pod... lol! I also have the script to the stage show somewhere. I do love the happy ending to this version though with the little twist in the end shot. I didn't realize the first film was shot in two days.. . wow! I would like to set that as a challenge to Kevin, create your own version of this film in two days and post it on you tube. Keep up the reviewing xx

    1. Soooooooooo . . . . . . you're a fan of the film? LOL
      And, hey, I read your review of Richard Madeley's book the other day. I'm not convinced that I could read anything he wrote without thinking of him telling me the story with his hands steepled under his chin and his posture changing between different positions of affected coolness, but you keep up those reviews too :-)

    2. Yeah I get that... One of the problem with Richard Madeley's book was that every now and then his voice came through a bit strong, but it wasn't bad for a first offering.

      I am trying to catch up on my reviews. Not that they are that good, I ramble to much. lol!

    3. You're talking to the king of rambling ;-)