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The Little Shop of Horrors (not rated)
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This is a Roger Corman movie from 1960, which I didn't see until 2015. It inspired a 1982 Off-Broadway musical, which in turn inspired a 1986 movie musical called Little Shop of Horrors (though the original 1960 movie is not a musical). Anyway, since I was a fan of the 1986 movie, I had a vague interest in seeing the original, though I wasn't expecting much. I was pleasantly surprised, however. I saw it on a DVD I bought used, which also contains three other movies (Swamp Women, Tormented, and The World Gone Mad). The sound and picture quality leave much to be desired, but the important thing is that I found the movie quite funny. I don't think it was scary at all, partly because of the poor quality of the video, partly because of the laughable production values, and partly because... it was just too funny to be scary, I guess. And too redonkulous. I should say, while the basic premise of both the original and the remake are the same, there are enough differences in the details that it's definitely worth seeing both movies.

So... it's set on Skid Row, in L.A., mostly at a little flower shop owned by a man named Gravis Mushnick. He has two employees, a woman named Audrey Fulquard, and a man named Seymour Krelboyne. Seymour is a bumbler who is constantly (unintentionally) annoying Mr. Mushnick, who finally fires him. However, Seymour says he has crossbred a new kind of plant for the store. Mushnick isn't interested, but a customer named Burson Fouch (who likes to eat flowers) says that a unique plant could attract more customers. So Mushnick decides to give Seymour one last chance, if his plant becomes a popular attraction. The next day, Seymour brings in the plant, which he named Audrey Jr. Unfortunately, in spite of all the care Seymour has given it, the plant is sickly and not very impressive. But Mushnick gives him a week to nurse it back to health. That night, Seymour stays in the shop after it closes, and when he accidentally cuts his finger, he discovers that Audrey Jr. has a taste for human blood. The next day, it turns out the plant has grown, and has become a popular attraction. So, Mr. Mushnick is happy to be making money from all the people who come in to see Audrey Jr., and Seymour gets to keep his job.

The next night, the plant speaks. It begs Seymour to "feed me." But he can't spare any more of his own blood. He goes out for a walk, trying to think what to do, and... accidentally causes the death of a railroad worker. He collects the man's body parts in a sack, and spends a little time trying to find some place to dump the body, before finally returning to the shop. At this point it still hasn't occurred to him to feed the dead guy to Audrey Jr., but the plant soon convinces him to do so. Also that night, Mushnick and Audrey are out at a restaurant, but Mushnick realizes he left his money at the shop, so he has to return there to pay for the meal. And when he does, he sees Seymour feeding body parts to the plant. He plans to call the police the next day, but before he can, he finds that the plant has grown even more, and become an even bigger attraction. He doesn't tell Seymour that he'd seen what he did, but does question him, vaguely, about the plant's feeding habits, and allows himself to be convinced that the plant won't need to be fed again. So, he doesn't call the cops, after all. But of course, Audrey Jr. isn't done eating, much to Seymour's horror. Still, there's a bright side: Seymour finally starts dating Audrey.

I should mention some other characters I've been neglecting. For one, there's Seymour's mother, Winifred, who is a hypochondriac. And there's a sadistic dentist named Dr. Farb. (He is quite similar to the dentist from the remake, except that in this movie he's not dating Audrey.) Also at one point, a masochistic patient named Wilbur Force shows up hoping for Dr. Farb to cause him pain. (He's played by Jack Nicholson; though it's a very small role, since he would later turn out to be the most famous actor in the movie, he's generally billed as one of the stars, in home video releases. Wilbur is also very similar to the character played by Bill Murray in the remake.) Also there's a regular customer at the flower shop named Siddie Shiva, who keeps coming back because her relatives are constantly dying. And there are a couple of high school girls who keep coming back because they're in charge of buying flowers for their school's float in a parade, and they sort of become fangirls of Seymour, since they think the plant he created is cool. And there's a woman named Hortense Fishtwanger, from some botanical society that wants to give Seymour an award. Also, the movie is narrated by a police detective named Joe Fink. He and his partner, Frank Stoolie, are investigating the disappearance of two of the people who wound up as plant food. (The cops are a parody of the detectives from "Dragnet," which was obvious to me even without having actually seen that show.)

Anyway, I guess I don't want to reveal any more of the plot, but I will say the ending of this movie is considerably different from that of the remake. (Oh, also... the version I watched was in black & white, but it has been colorized, so I may watch that version someday, on Hulu or something. I expect the audio & video quality will probably be better, too.)


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