Good Public Domain Movies: Little Shop Of Horrors (1960)
Roger Corman is the undisputed king of the low-budget B-movie, and Little Shop Of Horrors, produced and directed by Corman, is one of the lowest-budget quickies of them all. Principal photography was completed in just two days, before the sets - built for another movie that had just finished filming - were torn down. Total budget: $30,000. Perhaps most amazing, however, is that the end result is really a very good film.
Despite the title, this is not a horror film. It's a black comedy, and a very funny one. Bumbling Seymour Krelboyne, played by Jonathan Haze, accidentally cross-breeds a plant that needs human blood to survive. The plant, resembling a large Venus Flytrap, opens at night to be fed, demanding, "Feeeeed me!". Yes, the plant speaks english.
The film goes from one outrageous situation to another, with Seymour feeding the plant the bodies of people he's accidentally killed. Fortunately, there are several, including a railroad detective, a sadistic dentist who enjoys inflicting pain, and a call-girl whose advances Seymour mistakes as her volunteering to be the plant's next meal.
Honorary Academy Award
Roger Corman produced and/or directed hundreds of films. None of them were Oscar-worthy, but in 2009 he was awarded an Honorary Academy Award to recognize his achievements in the motion picture industry.
The film is filled with characters that can only be described as crazy. Examples include a man who eats flowers (played by Dick Miller), Seymour's hypochondriac mother (Myrtle Vail), and plant shop owner Gravis Mushnick (Mel Welles), who is uncomfortable with all the killing, but doesn't report it because the ever-growing plant is drawing new customers to his shop.
A young Jack Nicholson even has a small role as a masochist who looks forward to his visit with the aforementioned dentist. Somewhat less crazy, but much cuter, is Jackie Joseph as Audrey Fulquard, Seymour's love interest.
Little Shop Of Horrors is a film worthy of more than one viewing. The humor is rapid-fire and non-stop, so much so that you'll probably miss some of it the first time through. The film was adapted into a stage musical in 1982, which, in turn, became a motion picture in 1986, and rumor has it that yet another remake (non-musical) is in the works, but Roger Corman's 1960 film is where it all began.
Good Public Domain Movies
This is the second in a series of hubs in which I discuss some freely-available public domain movies that are actually worth watching. The series began with The Last Man On Earth, and I'll be looking at more films in various genres (and writing on other interesting topics, as well), so come back often and check for the latest!