Director/Producer Roger Corman Writer Charles B. Griffith
Cast Dick Miller (Walter
We’ve often paid tribute to the King of B films, the Sheikh of the Shoetring himself, Roger Corman. Out of all of Corman’s notorious quickies, and God knows we’ve played a few, these are two of the best, starting with a demented slice of Beatnik kitsch, his 1959 A Bucket Of Blood.
Dick Miller, Corman’s regular schmoe in supporting roles, is note-perfect as Walter, a nebbish mop boy at local beatnik coffee house The Yellow Door, populated with a variety of boho’s and bozos attempting to outdo each other in the “far out” stakes. Tired of being ignored and, like all would-be artists, desperate to impress a young girl named Carla, Walter sets out to prove that “Art” is not just short for “Arthur”; an unfortunate accident leads to his first inadvertent masterpiece “Dead Cat With Knife”, and in no time he’s hailed as the Silent Voice of Creation. Desperate to keep up his instant pretentiousness, he looks around his shabby apartment for another subject – “Dog Nailed To Table”, “Cockroach Stuck To Coffee Cup”, that kind of thing – but a drug bust for “horse… junk… white stuff…” leads him to desperate measures, and before you can say “Narc Meets Frying Pan”, the undercover cop is the latest artistic triumph at The Yellow Door.
Overnight, Walter goes from coffee house flunky to applause junky in one foul move, and he plays the artist role to the hilt, complete with beret and air of self-importance, and a knack of taking the line, “If you’re not creative, you should be dead” to outrageous lengths. The coffee shop owner’s keeping schtum whilst making a killing in the art market, as critics hail Walter’s work as a “return to Realism”, noting “he knows how his anatomy”. Walter’s clay-covered corpses are viewed as hideous yet somehow profound, their contorted features an existential portrait of Man’s eternal suffering in a Godless universe – or some nonsense.
“Crazy… crazy,” Walter admits, and he’s spot-on, thanks to a supremely witty script by Charles B. Griffith loaded with sharply observed satire, and compact direction from Corman. Beatniks, bongos and berets are easy targets (The Beverly Hillbillies, anyone?), but Corman and Griffith stay on the right side of caricature, and was successful enough a formula to rework into their next picture together, the original Little Shop Of Horrors, coming up later tonight. Meanwhile it’s time to put the “art” into “party movie” and fill up a bucket – with punch, of course! – for the 1959 A Bucket Of Blood.
Director Roger Corman Writer Charles B. Griffith
Cast Jonathan Haze (
In 1986 I was in high school on the
Twenty one years later I still stand by that assessment. Roger Corman’s 1960 Little Shop Of Horrors is a one-of-a-kind black comedy micro-classic, a cheaper-than-cheap attempt to cultivate genius out of – well, blood and bone fertilizer. Introduced with clipped Dragnet-style narration, it’s the tale of a failing flower shop on Skid Row, its very Yiddish owner Mushnik and his schlepping assistant
Soon Audrey 2 has filled the store – literally - and is a sensation, and a quietly impressed Mushnik can’t keep up with demand. But Audrey 2’s growing at an exponential rate and
Little Shop… reunites director Corman with screenwriter Charles B. Griffith in virtually a less deadpan and more deliberately cartoonish rewrite of their previous hit A Bucket Of Blood (1959), with the flower shop standing in for the coffee shop, and the man-eating plant for Walter’s clay-covered corpses. Dick Miller (A Bucket Of Blood’s Walter) has a cameo as a compulsive flower muncher, alongside a VERY young Jack Nicholson as a dental patient with a pain fetish. Sure, the remake is flashier AND it’s a musical, and its singing plant sounds like Rick James, but the original has its own unique and indefinable charms. Presenting the first, the best, the cheapest: 1960’s The Little Shop Of Horrors.