Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

littleshopI really enjoy what director Frank Oz does with “Little Shop of Horrors.” Rather than simply ignoring the cheesiness and camp value of the original, he embraces it. He also injects a pulpy comic book atmosphere, along with sixties pop and soul that compliments the tale perfectly. While I’ve always had a weak spot for Roger Corman’s original, Frank Oz succeeds in giving “Little Shop of Horrors” the campy adaptation that it deserves with a brilliant cast, and great tunes. This is a movie that always played on local TV as a kid and I always ignored it for reasons I don’t quite remember. In either case it’s no masterpiece, but it’s a fine and fun horror comedy.

Star Rick Moranis plays Seymour Krelborn, the workaday loser in the slums of his city who works at a flower shop. After fawning over his co-worker Audrey, he decides to take some initiative after financial concerns from his boss and brings in a rare flower. The flower was hit by lightning during a solar eclipse, and Seymour immediately buys it for the sake of the novelty. After pricking his finger, he realizes the plant is alive and hungry for human blood. Soon enough the need for blood transforms in to hunger for human meat, and Seymour must either feed the plant, or lose it and his fame. Nicknamed Audrey II, the vicious plant that turns in to a villain for Seymour, is a wonderful monster. The puppetry matched with Levi Stubbs’ performance make it a menacing foe that is so much more dangerous than it initially looks. Moranis plays Seymour as a mentally unbalanced but very desperate loner who is in love with Audrey and finds she is incapable of being with anyone but her abusive boyfriend.

Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello pretty much steals the film for the screen time he’s given as an over the top biker who works as a dentist for the thrill of torturing patients. Martin is hysterical in the role of the heel, and he even shares a hilarious scene with Bill Murray as the masochistic patient anxious to be tortured. Along with Murray and Martin, there are some great cameos by John Candy, Jim Belushi, and Christopher Guest, all of whom lend a high comedy pedigree to Moranis’ already charming performance. Keeping the film ironic and somewhat meta is the excellent musical numbers, all of which serve as a means of forwarding the narrative, and occasionally challenging the motives of Seymour and his man eating plant. The trio of Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell and Michelle Weeks are impressive, delivering some excellent musical numbers of their own, including the opening title track. “Little Shop of Horrors” is a pulp pop twist on the original Roger Corman horror comedy that’s funny, fun, catchy, and well worth its reputation.