Tuesday, October 3, 2017

31 Days of Spooky Movies: Little Shop of Horrors

Day #30b

Little Shop of Horrors

A musical comedy about a hapless florist who stumbles upon a sentient plant. On the one hand this plant could help make him rich and famous, but on the other hand it does feed on human blood...

Fright Factor:
1 / 5 Dentists

Gore Factor:
1 / 5 “Feed me, Seymour!”s

Should I watch it?

Frankly I’m shocked whenever I meet someone who has never seen this movie, but let’s take a moment to go over the facts:

  • It was directed by Frank Oz, the director of What About Bob? and The Dark Crystal (and also the actor who portrayed Yoda and Miss Piggy).
  • The music was done by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman (aka the duo behind Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast).
  • And it stars the likes of Rick Moranis, Levi Stubbs, Ellen Greene, and Steve Martin. With some great appearances by some other big stars.

I mean, damn! That’s a pretty amazing lineup.

I don’t really know what to say other than that it’s a really fun movie! It’s a perfect movie for those out there that want something with a spooky edge and some monsters, but would prefer to laugh over being terrified beyond all belief. I mean, sure, if you think about it it’s actually a pretty dark story. And yet—while a couple of gory things are said to have been done—there really is not on screen depiction of any of it. Plus all the great comedy and music generally keeps things pretty light.

 (well...maybe it would be scary to a young child...but I don’t have kids so what do I know). 

Although if you’re looking for faults, I suppose the one that comes to mind is the lack of female characters.

Technically there are four female characters if you count the Greek Chorus, but do you count a Greek Chorus? I don’t know! In terms of characters who are actual active players in the game, Audrey is it and I’ve always found her character to be a bit...questionable.

But if you dive into why her character is questionable? Well, things start to get real murky really fast. I think arguments could be made that she is nothing more than vapid ditz who has no agency, defines herself through her relationships with men, and whose only real dream is to be a wife and mother in the suburbs. And yet arguments could also be made that any negative aspects of her character are also shown to be aspects of the Seymour (aka the main character) and that they both develop together as they learn what a healthy relationship is and is not. But unlike in Seymour’s case where there are plenty of other male characters to compare and contrast him with, this cannot be said for Audrey.

And then things get even more complicated when you account for the fact that very different things that happen with her character depending on which version of the movie you’re watching: the theatrical cut or the original director’s cut.

See what I mean when I said things get murky really fast when you start to look at this thing too closely? Suffice it to say that all this could have been avoided if they had bothered to include more female characters.

All in all, I really love this film. There are so many iconic elements and memorable moments. It’s just a really fun time at the movies. As far as dark-comedy musicals go, Little Shop of Horrors reigns supreme.

P.S. If you’re wondering which version to watch, I personally prefer the theatrical version. It is a bit cheesy, but I think it’s sweet and a better fit for the movie overall. However, I do know a number of people who prefer the director’s cut ending which is more true to the original off-Broadway musical’s and includes another song.

P.P.S. (If you do want to dive into the differences between the two, I quite enjoyed this short essay that Vrai Kaiser wrote for The Mary Sue. Just be warned that there are spoilers, so probably best not to read it if you haven’t seen the movie yet.)

All my life I’ve always been poor
I keep asking God what I’m for
And he tells me, ‘Gee I’m not sure’
‘Sweep that floor, kid!’

I started life as an orphan
A child of the streets
Here on Skid Row!
He took me in
Gave me shelter, a bed,
Crust of bread and a job
Treats me like dirt, calls me a slob
Which I am!

So I live...
That’s your home address

You live...
When your life’s a mess

You live...
Where depression’s just status quo.
Down on Skid Row.”

1 comment:

  1. I have you to thank for this film, its because of you, I love it so much. And, when during the month of October (Halloween) when it is being played over the sound system in a store, I think of you. (this soundtrack and, of course, the Nightmare Before Christmas one.)