Not to be confused with the 1986 remake—this is the 1960 original. Seymour (Jonathan Haze) works in a Skid Row flower shop, trying to make ends meet. Among his other problems, he lives with his hypochondriac mother (Myrtle Vail), his boss Mr. Mushnick (Mel Welles) is mean, and his crush Audrey (Jackie Joseph) doesn’t notice him. When he grows a Venus flytrap hybrid, the flower shop does a lot more business, as people flock to see the weird plant. Too bad the only thing it eats is human blood, in greater and greater quantities as it grows. Seymour accidentally kills two people and feeds them to the plant; how far will he go to keep it satisfied?
It’s directed by Roger Corman, who did all kinds of ‘60s horror movies. This one’s a dark comedy, with lots of morbid humor. For example when Seymour goes to a sadistic dentist and the dental mirror breaks in his mouth, the dentist (my favorite character—in this version he’s not dating Audrey or a batterer) tells him to swallow the glass. I’m always surprised at what they can get away with showing in the ‘60s; I always think of that time as repressed and prudish. But despite its PG rating, this movie has murder, a man-eating plant, and a prostitute—in short, it has it all. The acting is decent, and it’s funny at times, with kind of a creepy ending. I suppose the plot makes sense. Though I am a bit confused by the stereotypical Jewish characters; I can’t tell if they’re loving caricatures or mean jabs.
I first saw this as a child, when I had a giant crush on Jack Nicholson (yeah, I was a weird frickin’ kid–I was ten, and he was fifty-seven). He has a small role as a masochistic dental patient who really gets off on Seymour messing around in his mouth. It’s somehow pretty hot:
Fans of the 1986 version may be disappointed; I know I miss the songs. This Seymour is a lot more whiny and obnoxious, and the editing isn’t great. Even the dentist scene is sexier in the remake: