Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Little Shop of Horrors


I’m happy to say that Roger Corman, the King of Schlock, is still alive and well at age 91, and still producing Grade D movies. He ran his own unaccredited, street-level, hard-knocks sort of film school, much more interesting than those at USC and UCLA, starting in the 1950s. Students included Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron, and actors like Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson. What you learned making films for Corman was to get out there on location or in a rented studio and get it done quickly and cheaply.

This weird little movie was a departure for him. It’s not an Edgar Allen Poe knock-off, not your usual monster movie, though it has a wonderful monster. Jack Nicholson has a small part as a masochistic dental patient, but it’s really the story of Seymour Krelboyne, a nebbish klutz who works in Gravis Mushnik’s flower shop alongside the girl of his dreams, ditsy Audrey. He raises a plant that grows to huge size, and eats people. And the rest is history. It was shot in two days, except for some exterior pick-up shots filmed on two successive weekends, where actual winos were paid ten cents to appear. Not ten cents an hour. Ten cents! They pooled their dimes and bought Thunderbird pop-skull wine. Total budget was $30,000. The whole reason it happened at all is that Corman had two days to use some existing sets before they would be torn down.

It’s primitive and raw, as you would expect. But it’s fairly funny, and over the years developed a cult following, so much that …