Reportedly only two shooting days and $22,500 went into the making of this picture, but limited fiscal resources didn’t deter Roger Corman and his game, resourceful FilmGroup from whipping up a serviceful parody of a typical screen horror number.
Little Shop of Horrors is kind of one big sick joke, but it’s essentially harmless and good-natured. The plot concerns a young, goofy florist’s assistant who creates a talking, blood-sucking, man-eating plant, then feeds it several customers from skid row before sacrificing himself to the horticultural gods.
There is a fellow who visits the Skid Row flower shop to munch on purchased bouquets (‘I like to eat in these little out-of-the-way places’). There is also the Yiddish proprietor, distressed by his botanical attraction (‘we not only got a talking plant, we got one dot makes smart cracks’), but content to let it devour as the shop flourishes. And there are assorted quacks, alcoholics, masochists [Jack Nicholson, as a dental patient], sadists and even a pair of private-eyes who couldn’t solve the case of the disappearing fly in a hothouse for Venus Fly-Traps.
The acting is pleasantly preposterous. Mel Welles, as the proprietor, and Jonathan Haze, as the budding Luther Burbank, are particularly capable, and Jackie Joseph is decorative as the latter’s girl. Horticulturalists and vegetarians will love it.