Petals and Thorns: “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960)


0000littleshop2        “The Little Shop of Horrors” is a more broadly freewheeling horror-comedy than Roger Corman’s savagely on target beat counterculture satire “A Bucket of Blood”, a film with a far more ambitious agenda as it was satirizing a then contemporary cultural movement whereas, this minor opus concerning a pesky carnivorous plant is more of a gentle poke at both crummy horror films (which at the time of production usually involved a somewhat wince inducing, low-budget menace interrupting the hero’s attempts go get into the ingenue’s skirt- think the Hays Office as supernatural guardians of chastity and you get the idea) and while Charles B. Griffith’s screenplay isn’t as observationally sharp as his work on 0000littleshopthat film, nor as smart- the newer film is also less controlled in it’s focus (it has a tendency to drift when the location shifts from the flower shop) ,  it is still a sufficiently inventive, often hilarious film which works best when the remarkably fine interplay between Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles and the irrepressible Dick Miller is front and center, building the completely loopy premise of the nurturing of a talking, mind controlling, man eating plant into a skid row version of the popular film satires of the day which had Madison Avenue hyperbole as their nurturing agar: success through trendy novelty as a source of public sensation. Less successful is the patently appropriated rhythmatic staccato of investigating detectives Joe Fink (Wally Campo) and Frank Stoolie (Jack Warford) as a deadpan parody of the deadpan “Dragnet”, though this does emphasize-  among other things  -the rich bouillabaisse of pop culture influences from which this little film draws; it’s a virtual cinematic realization of Mad parodies during the Harvey Kurtzman era. However, such a scattershot approach-  additionally the film’s comic tone is a crazy quilt of show biz traditions, including burlesque, vaudeville, Yiddish theater, black comedy, (perhaps) unintentional camp parody and commedia dell’arte  -also creates an inconsistency within the film that can be both disappointing and frustrating.

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About chandlerswainreviews

I've been a puppet, a pirate, a pauper, a poet, a pawn and a king, not necessarily in that order. My first major movie memory was being at the drive-in at about 1 1/2 yrs. old seeing "Sayonara" so I suppose an interest in film was inevitable. (For those scoring at home- good for you- I wasn't driving that evening, so no need to alert authorities.)Writer, critic and confessed spoiler of women, as I have a tendency to forget to put them back in the refrigerator. My apologies.
This entry was posted in acting, comedy, Film, Film Reviews, food, horror, movie reviews, Movies, Reviews, Roger Corman, Romance, writing. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Petals and Thorns: “The Little Shop of Horrors” (1960)

  1. Alex Good says:

    Nurturing agar! Oh, that one’s going in the act . . .

  2. beetleypete says:

    You nailed this one. A classic.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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