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The Little Shop of Horrors is a 1960 American comedy film directed by Roger Corman. Written by Charles B. Griffith, the film is a farce about an inadequate young florist's assistant who cultivates a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood. The film's concept is thought to be based on a 1932 story called "Green Thoughts", by John Collier, about a man-eating plant. The film stars Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles and Dick Miller, all of whom had worked for Corman on previous films. Produced under the title The Passionate People Eater, the film employs an original style of humor, combining black comedy with farce and incorporating Jewish humor and elements of spoof. The Little Shop of Horrors was shot in two days utilizing sets that had been left standing from a previous production on a budget of $30,000.
The film slowly gained a cult following through word of mouth when it was distributed as the b movie in a double feature with Mario Bava's Black Sunday and eventually with The Last Woman on Earth. The film's popularity increased with local television broadcasts, in addition to the presence of a young Jack Nicholson, whose small role in the film has been prominently promoted on home video releases of the film. The movie was the basis for an Off Broadway musical, Little Shop of Horrors, which was made into a 1986 feature film and enjoyed a Broadway revival, all of which have attracted attention to the 1960 film.
On Los Angeles's skid row, penny-pinching Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) owns a florist shop and employs sweet but simple Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph) and clumsy Seymour Krelboyne (Jonathan Haze). Although the rundown shop gets little business, there are some repeat customers; for instance, Mrs. Siddie Shiva (Leola Wendorff) shops almost daily for flower arrangements for her many relatives' funerals. Another regular customer is Burson Fouch (Dick Miller), who eats the plants he buys for lunch. When Seymour fouls up dentist Dr. Farb's arrangement, Mushnick fires him. Hoping Mushnick will change his mind, Seymour tells him about a special plant that he crossbred from a butterwort and a Venus Flytrap. Bashfully, Seymour admits that he named the plant "Audrey Jr.", a revelation that delights the real Audrey.
From the apartment he shares with his hypochondriac mother, Winifred (Myrtle Vail), Seymour fetches his odd-looking, potted plant, but Mushnick is unimpressed by its sickly, drooping look. However, when Fouch suggests that Audrey Jr.'s uniqueness might attract people from all over the world to see it, Mushnick gives Seymour one week to revive it. Seymour has already discovered that the usual kinds of plant food do not nourish his strange hybrid and that every night at sunset the plant's leaves open up. When Seymour accidentally pricks his finger on another thorny plant, Audrey Jr. opens wider, eventually causing Seymour to discover that the plant craves blood. After that, each night Seymour nurses his creation with blood from his fingers, and although he feels increasingly listless, Audrey Jr. begins to grow, and the shop's revenues increase due to the curious customers who are lured in to see Audrey Jr.
The plant (voiced by writer Charles B. Griffith) develops the ability to speak and demands that Seymour feed him. Now anemic and not knowing what to feed the plant, Seymour takes a walk along a railroad track. When he carelessly throws a rock to vent his frustration, he inadvertently knocks out a man, who falls on the track and is run over by a train. Miserably guilt-ridden, but resourceful, Seymour collects the body parts and feeds them to Audrey Jr. Meanwhile, at a restaurant, Mushnick discovers he has no money with him, and when he returns to the shop to get some cash, he secretly observes Seymour feeding the plant. Although Mushnick intends to tell the police, the next day, when he sees the line of people waiting to spend money at his shop, he procrastinates.
Cast Jonathan Haze as Seymour Krelboyne Jackie Joseph as Audrey Fulquard Mel Welles as Gravis Mushnick Dick Miller as Burson Fouch Jack Nicholson as Wilbur Force John Shaner as Dr. Phoebus Farb Myrtle Vail as Winifred Krelboyne Leola Wendorff as Mrs. Siddie Shiva Wally Campo as Detective Sergeant Joe Fink / Narrator Jack Warford as Detective Frank Stoolie Charles B. Griffith as Voice of Audrey Junior / Kloy / Drunk dental patient / Screaming patient / Flower shop burglar
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