Monstrositus

Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles) is a delight in Little Shop of Horrors. When his customer asks to eat flowers in his shop, he obliges. When a woman comes in – seemingly daily – to buy flowers for family funerals, he doesn’t ask questions. When kids want $2000 in flowers for a parade, he sees dollar signs, not panic.

It doesn’t matter how weird, bizarre, or strange the world around him becomes. Mushnick is a pure profiteer. In that, he never breaks, even when he learns an employee is feeding human bodies to his store’s latest attraction. Said attraction brings people in, you see.

Little Shop of Horrors works because it doesn’t spend more than a dime on anything

Little Shop of Horrors is a nonsense film, but holds a self-awareness about social screwballs, filling the script with goofy bit parts that make a talking, people-eating plant the most normal thing in the movie. Seymour Kilborn (Johnathan Haze) has the clumsiness of a cartoon character, and inadvertently kills people. He feels bad about it, of course, but what can he do? He goes on living – and feeding the non-living to his Japanese plant.

In the ‘50s, monsters came from radioactive fallout. In 1960, that thin nuclear logic played out, Little Shop of Horrors came up with pesticides, albeit indirectly. Seymour states the man-eating plant came from a Japanese seller who got the seed from a cranberry farm, that at a time when cranberry sales plummeted due to a particular pesticide. That’s clever, and requires more thought than what went into most of Little Shop of Horrors’ brief shoot.

What resulted is wonderful camp, played as if entirely normal, right on “skid row” where derelicts and criminals roam. The setting is a flawless one. It’s an odd film about odd people, but emboldened by the weirdness and runs with it. The 1986 version lacks the same potency, but was a major production. By comparison, Roger Corman’s take is threadbare and better for it. Everything looks cheap, as it should considering the setup is the city’s poverty row. Little Shop of Horrors works because it doesn’t spend more than a dime on anything, much like the title shop’s owner. The people who inhabit this small corner of the world fit right in.

Video

Most of the issues with Little Shop of Horrors happen in the gray scale during the first act, which doesn’t stretch into black levels, and the contrast pales. Flesh tones and flowers can clip a bit too. The print itself is near spotless, a stray scratch now and then minor. On the later reels, black levels grain strength. Contrast doesn’t settle, but does improve. That makes the back half a stronger presentation.

Grain runs a touch digital in more complex shots, but otherwise appears organic and natural. Detail doesn’t leap from the screen. Film Masters notes this is an HD scan, and Little Shop of Horrors looks as such. It’s not flushing the screen in texture or definition, but it’s reasonably resolved and even a bit crisp in places. It’s also consistent throughout.

Audio

When Stanley first enters his apartment, the radio plays. Sound is appropriately flatter, but it’s not much different than the core dialog either. That’s scratchy and flat, with a small static noted during certain scenes. While remaining entirely in the mid-range, Little Shop of Horror’s DTS-HD track is enough to preserve the dialog and music decently.

Extras

On its own disc in a package partnered with The Terror, the commentary comes from Justin Humphreys and star Johnathan Haze. The second part of a documentary on Filmgroup picks up from a previous Film Masters release, and runs 17-minutes.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Little Shop of Horrors
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Charmingly wacky and bizarre, Little Shop of Horrors succeeds on a micro-budget thanks its eccentricity.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 28 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:


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