Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Little Shop of Horrors, The

Two movies, the latter a musical Parody of the former, which is itself a parody of the Horror-Movie genre.

1. US movie (1960). Filmgroup. Pr Roger Corman. Dir Corman. Screenplay Charles B Griffith. Starring Jonathan Haze (Seymour Krelboin), Jackie Joseph (Audrey), Mel Welles (Gravis Mushnick). Voice actor Griffith (Audrey Jr). 71 mins. B/w.

The plot of this is very much like that of the better-known 2: the sole major differences are that the role of the dentist, here called Dr Farb and not sexually involved with Audrey, is much played down; the carnivorous plant has not come from outer space (it is, instead, a bizarre Venus Fly-Trap cross); and Seymour does not survive the escapade. There is some highly amusing parody of, in addition to horror, film noir; also, a very young Jack Nicholson does a pleasing Jerry Lewis impersonation in the role of a masochistic dental patient.

This is by far the funnier of the two versions. The screenplay was apparently written in a week by Griffith and Corman together (although Griffith is given sole credit) and the movie shot in two days because the main set (the shop), left over from another movie, was due to be torn down. It is probably precisely because of this haste that TLSOH is such a masterpiece of black comedy. [JG]

2. US movie (1986). Geffen/Warner. Pr David Geffen. Dir Frank Oz. Spfx Bran Ferren, with Audrey II designed and created by Lyle Conway. Screenplay Howard Ashman. Based on the stage musical by Ashman (book/lyrics), Alan Menken (music), itself based on 1. Starring Vincent Gardenia (Mr Mushnik), Ellen Greene (Audrey), Steve Martin (Orin Serivello), Rick Moranis (Seymour Krelborn). Voice actor Levi Stubbs (Audrey II). 91 mins. Colour.

Seymour, inept assistant in Mushnik's Skid Row flower shop, buys a plant that looks like a hybrid between a phallus and Kermit the Frog and comes from outer space. He names it Audrey II for the flower-arranger colleague he silently loves; he discovers it thrives only on fresh human blood. Mushnik's shop suddenly becomes hugely successful. Eventually, now vast, the plant demands Seymour bring it a corpse. Seymour determines to kill Serivello, Audrey's biker/sadistic-dentist boyfriend, but before he can do so Serivello conveniently overdoses on laughing gas; Seymour chops up the body and feeds it to Audrey II. Seymour's boss Mushnik knows all and tries blackmail, but the plant devours him whole. At last Seymour realizes he must destroy Audrey II and its offspring lest horticulturists propagate the strain worldwide. This proves difficult.

This movie has a lot of charm, generated largely by Greene and Moranis as the two Ugly-Duckling lovers; affectingly, their pastel-coloured Dream life is born from the pages of Better Homes & Gardens. Of several Recursive elements the funniest appears in the incidental music: a brief homage-Parody of Tubular Bells, extensively used in The Exorcist (1973). Cameo roles are by James Belushi, John Candy, Miriam Margolyes and Bill Murray. [JG]

further reading: The Little Shop of Horrors Book * (1988) by John McCarty and Mark Thomas McGee.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.