Little Shop of Horrors
A mild-mannered florist discovered a new breed of carnivorous plant and, through his unexpected adventure, connects with the woman of his dreams.
There is a myriad of phenomenal and fantastic movies in the world, and the 1986 adaptation of Little Shop of Horrors is not one of them. Not by any stretch. This film is a messy amalgamation of cinematic elements that should never go together, tinged by a vaguely familiar yet ultimately unsatisfying layer of a half-baked horror aesthetic. It is an absolutely bonkers narrative concept, drowning in questionable pacing and over the top dialogue that rings of 1980s cliches. It is, without a doubt, the kind of movie that was almost certainly born out of a fever dream.
And yet, somehow, I absolutely love it.
It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what makes this movie such a comfort. The plot is unsettling at best, with a resolution that only amplifies the continuous display of moral ambiguity found in the protagonists. The lighting and sets are sickly by design, drawing inspiration from classic horror tropes. There is an entire musical number about a dentist who tortures his patients. Little Shop of Horrors should not, in any way, inspire even the slightest sense of ease in its audience.
But there’s something about that charming little flower shop. There’s something about the characters and the choruses that follow them throughout their day-to-day. Rick Moranis turns in a marvelous performance as shy and skittish Seymour Krelborn and as soon as he starts singing out the lyrics to Skid Row, something swells up in the deepest parts of your heart.
So many monster movies highlight the courageous fighters—the fathers who desperately protect their families or the heroes who bravely save the world. The weak among the masses almost always die, and they are certain to do so in a way that is painful, pitiful, and altogether awful. Little Shop of Horrors takes a different approach. It appeals to the cowards in us. To the parts of us that yearn for mundanity: a little life in a flower shop that keeps us busy, with the girl of our dreams at our side. It shows us the pleasures of simplicity rather than lure us with adventure, and it does so through songs that are so beautifully belt-able to the layman singer that it’s almost impossible to resist.
In addition to a stellar score and enviable vocals, the film is a staple in the history of cinematic technicality. Audrey II, the rapidly growing, carnivorous Venus Flytrap (bonkers!), is a character that exists completely as a puppet, but even so, its movements feel fluid to the eye. It’s enough to make the viewer think it’s an early application of CGI, before they remember that it’s just a touch too early for graphics this advanced. In fact, it’s a clever use of frame rates, filming in slow motion and bringing it back up to speed. The result is a quick pair of lips that, again, only add to the general sense of anxiety.
But somehow, in those moments shared between Seymour and Audrey, viewers can find just a little bit of peace in the overall uneasiness and, ultimately, isn’t that what we’re all looking for anyway?
Little Shop of Horrors shouldn’t work. But it does. Sometimes it’s better not to think about it too much and just let goodness be good.
Monsters Unleashed: Little Shop of Horrors (1986)
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 6/106/10
Acting - 8/108/10
Music - 9/109/10
Production - 9/109/10
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