Often confused with the 1980s musical that it inspired, The Little Shop of Horrors is a low-budget 1960 comedy horror film, directed by Roger Corman and written by Charles Griffith. The rather loose plot concerns a bumbling florist's assistant named Seymour Krelboin (Jonathan Haze), whose plant cross-breeding experiments accidentally create a talking plant with hypnotic powers that feeds on human blood.
It was famously filmed in under 48 hours, using pre-existing sets that were built for a different film. It also features a then-unknown Jack Nicholson in a small role as masochistic dental patient Wilbur Force, who consequently tends to get top billing whenever the film is released on home video.
Years later, the movie was adapted into a stage musical by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, itself turned into a feature of its own directed by Frank Oz. The film and/or musical also probably served as partial inspiration for the plant in Stephen King's The Plant. Probably the biggest impact this movie had on pop culture? The Piranha Plants in Super Mario Bros..
The film provides examples of:
- Alcoholic Parent: Mrs. Krelboin drinks heavily throughout the movie.
- Alter Kocker: Gravis Mushnick, the florist.
- And I Must Scream: At the film's ending, Audrey Jr. puts forth a flower with Seymour's face in it, with Seymour then pitifully wailing "I didn't mean it!" Implying he's still alive and conscious inside of Audrey Jr.
- Brainwashed: Audrey Jr. hypnotizes Seymour to make a final kill.
- Brick Joke: Frank Stoolie speaks extremely casually about his child dying in a fire. Turns out that the child is yet another relative of Siddie Shiva.
- Burp of Finality: The giant carnivorous plant Audrey Junior tends to burp after eating a whole person.
- Seymour: "I didn't mean it!"
- Audrey Jr.: "Feed me!"
- Mushnik: "Excellent!"
- Collectible Card Game: Attic Cards had a Kickstarter funded set of 69 cards made
- Comic-Book Adaptation: Roger Corman's Cosmic Comics made a three issue adaptation called Welcome to The Little Shop of Horrors in 1995. Each issue also includes a 2-page "Behind the Scenes" feature, as well as a comedic single-page original story chronicling the further exploits of the characters.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Mrs. Krelboin, who serves Seymour and Audrey a dinner of chow mein flavored with Chinese herbs and epsom salts, soup made with cod liver oil and salsa powder, and Dr. Flem's cough syrup as drinks.
- Deadpan Snarker: Gravis Mushnick for most of the movie. Audrey Jr. also gets in on the action after revealing its man-eating nature to Mushnick, who invokes this trope:Mushnick: Who would you like to have tonight?Audrey Jr.: You look fat enough.
- Depraved Dentist: The psychopathic dentist who enjoys hurting his patients. And ends up being fed to Audrey Jr.
- Disappeared Dad: Seymour's father left him and his mother.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!:
- Mentioned by Seymour and averted, because he doesn't get mad at Audrey, and he's actually a meek guy who accepts Audrey's consolation when Mr. Mushnik gives him one week to nurse the plant back to health:Audrey: Don't feel sad, Seymour.
Seymour: Don't waste your pity on me, Audrey, I'm not worth it.
Audrey: Who says you're not?
Audrey: Yeah, I know. But I think you're a fine figurative of a man... and I know that Audrey Jr. will be the sweetest thing in the whole wide world.
- Mentioned by Seymour and averted, because he doesn't get mad at Audrey, and he's actually a meek guy who accepts Audrey's consolation when Mr. Mushnik gives him one week to nurse the plant back to health:
- Downer Ending: The finale of the movie: Seymour gets so upset with Audrey Jr. that he tries to kill it, only to end up being eaten by it. On the other hand, due to the framing device of the film being that it's the recollection of a cop who got involved with the case, it's pretty obvious Audrey Jr. got destroyed afterwards (in contrast to the later theatrical version's alternate ending, where Audrey II's kill off humanity) and, hey, Seymour was a murderer, so it's kind of a Karmic Death.
- Eat the Evidence: Invoked when Seymour and Mushnik respectively dispose of corpses in Audrey Jr's stomach.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Audrey Jr, the carnivorous plant.
- Gender-Blender Name: Audrey Jr., who is voiced by Charles B. Griffith.
- George Lucas Altered Version: Was colorized twice in 1987 and 2006.
- Greedy Jew: The shop owner Gravis Mushnick is greedy, has a name that sounds like a Yiddish word, and speaks with a noticeable Yiddish accent, which got the film accused of antisemitism. The actor, Mel Welles, who is himself Jewish, countered that he came up with the accent on his own.
- Heal It with Booze: Seymour's mother gets a bottle of Dr. Slurpsaddle's famous tonic, with a 98% percent alcohol content. If they made a tonic out of gin...
- I Didn't Mean to Kill Him: The final line, a repeat of Seymour's Catch Phrase.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Mushnik, after he catches Seymour feeding body parts to the plant.
- Jewish Mother: Seymour's mom is an expert at guilt-slinging:
- Mrs. Krelboin: She'll take you off to some shady sanitarium, and leave me to chiropractors and faith healers. I know when I'm not wanted.
Seymour: [after his mom kicks him to the floor] Aw gee, ma!
Mrs. Krelboin: Don't feel sorry for me! I'll just find a nice wet alley somewhere and curl up and wait for the end.
- Large Ham: Pretty much everybody, but Mel Welles as Mister Mushnik really stands out.
- Lethal Klutz: Seymour. First, he throws rocks at a bottle on a roof until one of them hits a bystander who falls onto train tracks and gets hit by the train. Then he stabs a dentist with one of his own instruments in self-defense, and then he throws yet another rock while under the plant's hypnosis and hits a call girl in the head.
- Meaningful Name: The detectives Fink and Stoolie, as well as Siddie Shiva, ("sitting shiva")note who frequently buys floral arrangements for her relatives, and the masochist, Wilbur Force.
- No-Sell: Mister Mushnik is unaffected by the plant's demands to be fed and simply tells it to shut up.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Leonora Clyde, the very persistent call girl going after Seymour, seems to do this often.
- Paste Eater: Burson Fouch buys flowers from the shop as take-out meals, and furthermore is something of an epicure, having eaten at florist shops all over the country. He even sees Audrey Jr. as a potential food item (complaining that it looks "stale"). When he finally leaves it's because his wife is making gardenias for dinner.
- Planimal: Audrey, Jr. is a plant, but has vocal chords and apparently, a full digestive system in its stalk.
- Police Are Useless: What a bunch of finks!
- Public Medium Ignorance: Some fans of the Frank Oz movie are not aware that it derived from this movie, and the two are often confused as a result. Jack Nicholson is also not the star of the movie, despite a memorable role and being top billed on many home video releases (a noteworthy example? One VHS tape had a painting of Nicholson holding the plant, even though the two do not come into contact with each other at any point). This is also not a straightforward horror movie, despite being categorized as such on Hulu and YouTube or miscategorized on DVD shelves. In fact, when it was originally released, fans of the movie noted it for its MAD-like humor and satire.
- Punny Name: Siddie Shiva, a pun on the Jewish mourning custom of "sitting shiva."
- Single Specimen Species: Seymour states that Audrey Jr. is most likely the only one of its kind that will ever exist.
- Self-Plagiarism: Of Corman's earlier film, A Bucket of Blood. Same exact plot, same soundtrack, characters with similar personalities. It even ends in the same exact way. The two movies were also written by the same person (Charles B. Griffith), were shot back-to-back, and were shot on the same set.
- Stealth Pun:
- When Seymour sees his mother at home:Winifred Krelboin: Did you stop at Dr. Mallard's and get the results from that test?
Seymour: Yeah, he said there's nothing wrong with you.
Winifred: Oh, not Dr. Mallard; he's one doctor I thought would tell the truth!
Seymour: He said you should be playing fullback for the Rams.
Winifred: He wants me dead! I'll bet he's assistant coroner.
- Since Mrs. Krelboin doesn't think too highly of her physician, it might be said that she thinks Dr. Mallard's a quack.
- When Seymour sees his mother at home:
- Too Dumb to Live: Seymour. It's what turns him into a murderer in the first place, and it's how the film ends; he decides the best way to kill Audrey Jr. is to climb into its mouth and start stabbing it with a knife. Naturally, he gets eaten.
- We Named the Monkey "Jack": Audrey Jr., named for the human Audrey, whom Seymour has a crush on.