“Girls, Girls, Girls, Girls, Girls, please don’t damage the horticulturist.”
Seymour Krelborn (Jonathan Haze) works for Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) at Mushnik’s Flower Shop. Mushnick also employees Audrey Fulquard (Jackie Joseph). Seymour is a little clumsy and a bit slow witted. Mushnick is always berating him for one mistake or another. Seymour is secretly in love with the sweet, slightly airheaded, Audrey. The shop is on skid row and business is marginal. When Seymour screws up an order for a local dentist, Dr. Farb (John Herman Shaner), Mushnick has had enough and fires Seymour.
To try to get his job back Seymour shows Mushnick a plant he created by cross breeding two plants. Seymour tells Mushnick that the new species may bring clients to the floundering flower shop. The plant is a little sickly looking and Mushnick is not impressed. He gives Seymour one week to try to get the plant to rally.
Seymour tries everything he can think of to revive the pathetic little plant but nothing works until he accidently pricks his finger and his blood lands on the plant. The little plant appears to ingest the blood and seems to perk up a bit. Realizing that the plant needs blood to survive Seymour willingly gives it his blood for nourishment.
He names the plant Audrey Jr. in honor of his secret crush. Audrey Jr. begins to not only thrive but grow and curious customers begin to visit the little shop to see the new botanic wonder. Audrey Jr. develops the ability to talk. Craving more and more blood Audrey Jr. keeps repeating the phrase “Feed Me”. By now Seymour is a little anemic from giving Audrey Jr. his own blood.
When Seymour accidentally causes the death of a hobo along the railroad track he gets the idea to feed the pieces of him to his plant. Audrey Jr. becomes insatiable. The only thing that satisfies the carnivorous vegetation is more people.
“The Little Shop of Horrors” was released in 1960 and was directed and produced by Roger Corman. The film is a black comedy/horror. Roger used the same sets he had for “A Bucket Of Blood” 1959. The budget for the film was about $28,000 and was made in two and a half days.
The voice of Audrey Jr. was writer Charles B. Griffith who stood off-screen just as a reference for the actors to work off of. The actual plant voice was to be added later but Griffith’s voice got laughs and thrifty Roger Corman saw an opportunity to save money by not employing an actor to do the dubbing.
Screenwriter Charles Griffith also has a cameo as a screaming dental patient. He also plays Kloy Haddock. Jack Nicholson does a very memorable performance as a masochistic dental patient. Dick Miller’s performance as the flower eating customer was largely ad-libed.
At one point in the editing there were two scenes that just wouldn’t cut together so a shot of the moon was inserted between them to make it work. Twenty years later a magazine article had eight pages on the symbolism of the moon shot in “The Little Shop of Horrors”.
The film has a lot of Jewish humor and mannerisms. Roger had a little trouble finding distributors for the film fearing that it would be considered anti-Semitic. Roger and Gene Corman finally released in under their own production company Filmgroup. Believing the movie wouldn’t have much of a financial gain after its first release Roger never bothered to copyright the film resulting in the movie falling into public domain. It has since garnered a vast cult following.
The film was made into an off-Broadway musical called “Little Shop of Horrors” and then re-made as a musical feature film in 1986.