Matthew Lickona 9:46 a.m., May 20
Little Shop of Horrors
It originated in a 1960 Roger Corman shoestringer primarily remembered for a brief appearance by the very young Jack Nicholson as a pain-loving dental patient, and only secondarily for the blood-drinking plant with a small but useful vocabulary ("Feed me!"). Since then it was reincarnated circa 1982 as a stage musical that retained the original period, and whose songs, to retain also the appropriate cultural level, were done in the style of pre-Beatles rock-and-roll. And it has herewith found its way back to the screen as a version of that musical. In all particulars this new incarnation would seem to be no less refreshingly tasteless than the original one, but, rerouted as it has been through the legitimate theater (Off Broadway, to be sure) and what with the changes in taste over twenty-odd years, it emerges somewhat nearer the middle of the road -- or at least safely up on the gravelly shoulder. What once was clandestine camp has become blatant and boastful. That said, it must hurriedly be added that this production of Little Shop has been done to a turn, and with all the freedom and abandon that come from knowing that it's quite all right -- even better than all right, even altogether good -- to be downright bad. The faintly obscene hermaphroditic plant (exhibiting female or male characteristics depending on whether its mouth is open or shut respectively) is beautifully realized and blessedly free -- thanks again to the all-rightness or altogether-goodness of downright-badness -- of that often stultifying and fun-spoiling urge for "realism" in special effects. And though the color sometimes looks a little pallid, the voluminous space of this backlot Skid Row is fully explored and exploited. Credit for that must go mainly to director Frank Oz. Credit for such fully explorable and exploitable sets, and (daring again to be bad) such deliberately fake ones, goes to British designer Roy Walker. With Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and Bill Murray. 1986.
— Duncan Shepherd
- Rated PG-13