Little Shop of Horrors; or Breaking Botany

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Hello and Hallo-welcome to this year’s last edition of Monster Monday, where the films feature creatures! You join your reviewers, Andy and Lilly, as they brush up on their botany and manslaughter definitions.

Today’s film offering: Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Lilly: Have you ever wondered what happens when you bet a director he can’t make a film in two days? Wonder no longer, because the answer is Little Shop of Horrors. Written in almost the same amount of time, the film is the story of a flower shop on ‘skid row’ that is looking like it might go bankrupt until one of the workers, the inept Seymour, manages to grow a mysterious plant with a dubious appetite. Throw in some gags to do with a man who eats flowers, a masochistic dental patient, and yiddish peppered throughout the script, and you get this fun romp that runs merrily into the disturbing ending at a happy clip, the run time just short of an hour and fifteen minutes.

Andy: It also has, like, three sets. The whole thing sometimes feels like someone filmed a stage play. Also, this is the second week in a row we’ve dealt with demonic foliage. Although the Venus Fly Trap crossbreed … thing in this is a million times less creepy than a triffid.

Lilly: To be clear, a deep exploration of poverty driving men to acts of madness this is not. This is straight up a tale of a schmuck who tried to make things right and just went far wrong instead. It has characters like ‘Siddie Shiva’ (a woman who is a return customer due to the fact that she has a million funerals to go to, which is funny since it is a play on the phrase ‘sitting shiva’, a mourning period in Jewish tradition), a hypochondriac mother who only cooks things that are meant to cure you (such as a soup that is just cod liver oil), and a psychotic dentist who will take whatever teeth he damn well pleases, hurting or not. It’s almost as if the writer was given a basic idea (deadly plant) and a bunch of characters to work into it, and boom. Done. Story. And it works! It really works!

Andy: Sure! It’s not great art (then again very, very little Roger Corman puts out can be described that way)–

Lilly: Excuse you, he did The Terror.

Andy: …but it does manage to combine two genres to great effect – creepy sci-fi-ish horror and screwball comedy. And while the mishmash of genres is often jarring (I mean, it’s hard to feel sorry for a guy who’s feeding bodies to a plant) it gels together and rattles along nicely.

Lilly: Even the things that could be problematic–stereotypes, anyone?–are turned on their head. You’ve got the lady lead, a ditzy woman named Audrey, who cannot seem to get her words right (she calls a caesar salad a ‘cesarean salad’, for example) yet she knows loads about flowers and is the go-to employee of the shop. Then you have Mushnick, the shop owner, a Russian Jewish immigrant who just loves a deal–yet he was apparently based partially off the director’s own grandfather, so can we call it stereotyping?

For the length it is and the age it is, Little Shop of Horrors fits in some good creepy moments and some good groaners.

Andy: A short review for a short film!

Lilly: So go, watch,and enjoy! It’s not like it will take long!

Thank you so much for reading our reviews this month, it’s been our pleasure writing them! Hallowfest Octobfilm will return next year, but stay tuned, as some new things will be coming out of Hallowfest sooner than you think! Happy Halloween!

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