Friday, 19 June 2009

Things What Are Great #15 - Little Shop Of Horrors

In a nutshell:- A man-eating plant, a sadistic dentist and some great songs. What's not to love?

The Basics:- Based on an off-Broadway musical which was itself based on a cheap 1960 B-movie*, it tells the story of Seymour, a poor young lad who finds a strange and interesting new plant which makes his life start to turn around - the only drawback being that the plant has a voraciously carnivorous appetite... Directed by Frank Oz (yep, he of Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear fame) and featuring the full might of the Jim Henson Creature Workshop being brought to bear in realising the plant, Audrey II, the film wasn't a huge hit at the time but has since become a recognised classic thanks to the magic of VHS and DVD.

Why's It So Great Then?:- Oh, the reasons are manifold. First up, let's mention the plant itself. It's a triumph of practical effects and still holds up against any CGI-based effect you'd get today. In particular, the mid-size version of the plant which sings Feed Me is amazingly expressive and it's always more convincing when the actors visibly have something to work off. The full-size version at the end of the film employed around 50 puppeteers to operate it - something that you're hard pushed to find now (two blokes and a couple of Macs seems to be standard). Secondly, it has one of Steve Martin's finest performances as the sadistically vicious dental surgeon Orin Scrivello (D.D.S.). Yes, we all know he's gone massively off the comedy boil nowadays but this is when he still knew how to deliver the goods. Thirdly, and alongside the second point, there are some great performances from the rest of the cast (Rick Moranis is a perfect Seymour) and also a host of nice cameos by a smattering of comedians. The standout? Naturally, it's Bill Murray's masochistic dental patient who foils Steve Martin sadistic ways but nspecial mention must also go to Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops for brining the voice of Audrey II to life. And lastly, it has some really catchy tunes, written by the same team who went on to pen tunes for Disney's Beauty And The Beast and Aladdin.

Surely Some Of It Must Be Rubbish:- Do you know what? I can't think of anything that I don't like about this film. I've watched it many a time in the last twenty-odd years (yep, it's that old) and I imagine I will watch it many more times in the years to come.

So We Should Seek Out This Thing Of Which You Speak?:- Definitely, it's funny, it has some great effects and singalonga catchy tunes. The only problem is that you might find the tunes get stuck in your head for some to come afterwards...


* Shot in two days by Roger Corman, king of the no-budget B-movie, and featuring an appearance by Jack Nicholson in one of his first screen roles, fact fans


6 comments:

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

You're right. The songs are sing-a-long catchy...but for some reason I've never been a fan. I'm a fan of many, many musicals...Little Shop of Horrors seems not to be one of those.

Nikki said...

I know for a fact that mjenks is on drugs and Little Shop of Horrors is greatness. I want a carnivorous plant.

J-Diggety said...

I LUV Li'l Shop!! I first saw it in movie form growing up, but a stage production came through FoCo last year, and it was FAB!!! I recommend seeing it on stage if you ever get a chance.

That Baldy Fella said...

mjenks - Well, I won't hold it against you on this one occasion. We may run into difficulties if you tell me you don't like The Muppet Movie, though - them's fightin' words...

Nikki - You are this:- right. Only if it's a talking one, naturally...

Jess - It was playing here in London not that long ago and somehow I managed to completely miss it. Not sure how I did that.

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Baldy,

Did my remark on carnivarius plants inspire that?

Well anyway good choice of 'Little Shop of Horrors'. I'm going to watch the DVD I have with Jack Nickelson. No music, but that oldy is a goody.

Euphoria

That Baldy Fella said...

It may well have been some form of inpsiration, yes...