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The Little Shop of Horrors

Posted: 30 Jul 2023
Released: 1960
Rating: ★★★★

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The Little Shop of Horrors is a quirky talkie film that bridges the intersection of drama and science fiction. It is set in a time when a bunch of flowers cost 50 cents.

The story takes place in a run-down florist's called Mushnick's that isn't doing too well. The owner Mr Mushnick is a task master, and will do about anything to make a sale. He shouts at Seymour for being a dolt, who keeps messing up the flower arrangements with the excuse "I didn't mean it!" When Seymour makes one mistake too many, Mr Mushnick fires him post-haste. Seymour tries to convince Mr Mushnick to give him one more chance. Seymour pleads his case, saying he has been growing a new kind of plant to show off in the shop. Mr Mushnick is not impressed.

Staff: Such a thing! Eating flowers!
Customer: Look don't knock it until you try it, huh?

A few minutes before, a customer entered the flower shop asking for carnations, with instructions to "not wrap them up, I'll eat 'em right here." Which he does. While everybody else is gawking at this man eating flowers, Seymour makes a mess of a flower arrangement yet again, Mr Mushnick starts giving him an earful, Seymour says he didn't mean it.

The man who is eating the flowers hears Seymour's plea. He tells Mr Mushnick that he has visited florists all over the country and makes a convincing argument that the shops showcasing weird and wonderful plants are the most successful. Mushnick agrees to give Seymour one more chance, at the prospect of making more money.

Image: The flower shop staff with a customer
Seymour you klutz! The only thing you are good for is plant food!

Seymour races home to fetch the plant, where we meet his momma, she's a hypochondriac. Seymour gives her a bottle of Dr Flem's magic tonic, at 98 proof it guarantees to cure any ailment. She glugs that stuff like there is no tomorrow.

Seymour rushes the plant to the shop, and everybody loves it. Business has never been so good! But the plant, named Audrey Junior, is not doing too well. Seymour pricks his finger on a rose thorn, one thing led to another, and he discovers that Junior feeds on blood. The more Junior eats, the bigger it gets. Along the way Seymour causes the death of two men, indirectly, or if your prefer, manslaughter in the second degree. Naturally Seymour feeds their remains to Junior.

Image: Jonathan Haze and Myrtle Vail
Go easy on the sauce Momma!

The plot has now come full circle. The scene at the start with the man eating the flowers, is juxtaposed with the man-eating plant. At one point Seymour even calls Junior "Dracula".

Feed me!

Mushnick sees Seymour feeding Junior body parts, and Mushnick becomes very suspicious. Mushnick offers to watch the plant for an evening while Seymour and Audrey go on a date. A robber enters the store wielding a revolver, Mushnick tells the thief the cash is hidden inside Junior. He pokes his head inside the big plant and gets chomped.

Image: Jonathan Haze standing alongside Audrey Junior
Feed me!

Junior grows bigger and gets more demanding. It hypnotises Seymour to find it "food", so he goes and kills a lady of the night - again, manslaughter second degree - Seymour is such a klutz.

At last the plant matures, it blooms large flowers, each with the face of its victims. Two detectives recognise the faces of the missing persons, and proceed to chase Seymour through a junk yard. Seymour escapes and returns to the shop, where he grabs a large knife and climbs into Junior, furious over the predicament he finds himself in, convinced this plant ruined his life. The next day another flower blooms with the face of Seymour, and we hear his voice say, "I didn't mean it!"

Image: A flower bloom with the face of Charles Griffith
I am pretty as a flower.

The Little Shop of Horrors is an off-beat film with a surprising amount of death topics for a 60's comedy. It's a fun watch at 72 minutes runtime, and you'll get a few laughs out of the quirky characters. Just don't expect any deep meaning hidden in the plot, and you'll be fine.

Image: The End

GIF: Audrey Junior opening and closing its mouth

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