Friday, 25 November 2011

Movie Review - Little Shop of Horrors

Frank Oz  deconstructs the musical genre in Little Shop of Horrors, with stereotypical characters and the approach of the familiar story made comical. "As directed by the Muppet master Frank Oz, this large-scale new film version has just the right mixture of playfulness, tunefulness and blood lust. Never has any screen killer done his job as innocently as Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis), ..." (Maslin, 1986) The journey of Seymour is the main focus for the themes of ambition and dreams of being recognised as an individual from Audrey who he secretly admires and through fame. The film borrows a lot of material such as the plant 'Audrey 2' acting like Seymour's Genie, offering to grant his desires but at a price. The film takes a humorous side to the horror element as well because although the the story centres around a plant that needs human flesh/ blood in order to live, it is more lighthearted to keep to the vibe of the musical genre, the evidence describes Seymour's killings as 'innocently' which shows the audience that the plant needs a 'puppet' to get what it requires and Seymour has no choice and forced into the partnership.

Figure 1, (2007), Seymour and Audrey 

The film was influenced mainly by the original play in the 1960's and it has retained the same traits of the period through it's characters and song style that Oz has used for his adaptation. "It's hard to pinpoint just what makes this surreal saga such a delight. There's the music, a wonderful doowop score from the off-Broadway hit based on Corman's 1960 cult classic... There's Steve Martin as 'The Dentist', Audrey's biker-boyfriend, a happy-go-lucky sadist who nearly steals the show." (Andrew, 2006) The songs are in the style of Motown and jazz to recapture the sixties feel in the original, Oz has also thought of perceptional stereotypes such as the typical bimbo that Audrey portrays and the rocker, care free character of Orin. Oz has completely flipped the idea of the dentist who is meant to look after people's teeth to the image of a mad violent doctor who enjoys creating pain in his patients and loves to watch them suffer. The viewer would still find this comical because the portrayal is very exaggerated and feels like something from a nightmare to get the perception of the villain that audience in the musical doesn't care about due to his manner and actions.

Figure 2, (2009), The dentist inflicting pain for fun 

Oz has added in his own trademark 'stamp' into this film, incorporating the typical B Movie design in Audrey 2, plant from space. "...the movie is very similar to the play. Most of the songs remain intact, and the cast is full of energy and zest. The special effects fill an important niche." (French, 2001) Oz has given the plant 'Audrey 2' a human - like personality to be able to sing and talk to create it's own identity. The theme of puppetry has also been deconstructed in this film because Audrey 2 is technically the puppet being controlled to perform in the film but in the cinematic world of 'Little Shop of Horrors' the audience can identify the character of Audrey 2 as the puppet master/ puppeteer having complete control of Seymour's destiny to achieve it's goal of world domination. It first appears to the audience that Audrey 2 is sympathetic to Seymour's character but reveals it's true intentions when he turns on the original Audrey and threatens to expand into every household. This also runs into the theme of hyper reality because much like Truman in 'The Truman' Seymour doubts the new world created from his fame that was orchestrated by Audrey 2 and breaks through the lies to eventually stop the 'creator' who manipulated and controlled to finally be free with the girl he always dreamed of being with.

 Figure 3, (2011), Audrey 2 - The plant that can sing

Illustration List

Figure 1, (2007), Seymour and Audrey, @, Accessed on: 31st May 2007
Figure 2, (2009), The dentist inflicting pain for fun, @, Accessed on:  15th April 2009
Figure 3, (2011), Audrey 2 - The plant that can sing, @, Accessed on: 8th April 2011


Andrew Geoff, (2006), Time Out London – Little Shop of Horrors, @, Accessed on:  24th June 2006
French Blake, (2001), Film – Little Shop of Horrors, @, Accessed on: 22nd July 2001
Maslin Janet, (1986), The New York Times - Little Shop of Horrors, @ Tomatoes, Accessed on: 19th December 1986


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