A clumsy young man nurtures a plant and discovers that it’s carnivorous, forcing him to kill to feed it. (IMDB synopsis)
Did you know about this original version? I’ll be honest, I have seen this one already, though it was several years ago. I was going through a phase of watching Twilight Zone episodes all the time, so I quickly warmed to this black and white horror comedy. It seemed, like Twilight Zone, to carry elements of the cautionary tale, and it was very gripping as a result. I ought to enjoy watching it again.
Holy pyjamas, that was terrible! And I don’t mean the film, I mean the DVD copy I got from eBay. How come the film plays just fine on YouTube, but on MY disc it looks like they recorded it with a potato? Somebody’s going to get some negative feedback, *grumble grumble*.
Anyway, the film starts in Mushnik’s flower shop, where Mushnik laments his poor business and decides to fire his inept and bumbling employee, Seymour. However, Seymour reveals that he’s been making a new and unusual plant that is sure to increase interest in the shop – and by extension, sales of their flowers. Unfortunately, Audry Jr. is looking a little poorly, and Mushnik gives Seymour one week to nurse it back to health.
Later that night, Seymour discovers that the plant likes blood, and pricks his finger for it, saying, “There’s just no accounting for people’s tastes.” Things seem to pick up the next day, as the plant grows and attracts the attention of more than a few customers. Later on, the now-wilting plant calls out, ‘Feed meeeeee’ in a hilariously whiny voice – it’s not nearly as suave as Audrey II from the 1986 film – and so Seymour must go to increasing lengths to find people to feed to it.
You can definitely call this film a good comedy – aside from the main characters, who all have some great lines to deliver, there are minor characters who are an absolute riot. I don’t want to spoil too many of them for you, but my favourite was probably Jack Nicholson in an early role as the masochistic patient of the sadistic dentist. As he sits in the waiting room of the dental practice, he reads aloud from a copy of ‘PAIN’ magazine. You couldn’t make that up! But I confess, I do like old black-and-white comedy films – they’re probably not for everyone.
As for the horror, well, it’s there; in fact, it‘s right there in the title. Wouldn’t you be scared if your venus flytrap suddenly grew to an enormous size and demanded fleshy sacrifices? Well, yes, maybe, but then you just wouldn’t feed it. Semour does feed the plant, which I think says more about him that it does about Audry Jr. Maybe the horrifying thing about this film is the fact that anyone could be persuaded to commit horrible, unspeakable acts for personal profit or self-preservation. It could happen to yooooou!
There are many differences between this film and the musical version. For one thing, Audry Jr. is a butterwort/venus flytrap crossbreed, while Audrey II is just a Mean Green Mother from Outer Space. Also, this film has a decidedly less happy ending than the remake. In this one, Seymour actually commits suicide, promising to feed the plant like it’s ‘never been fed before’, i.e. with living human meat. Yeugh. That sounds exceptionally dark, but don’t worry – we don’t get to see Seymour get slowly and painfully devoured by the plant’s gaping maw. We just see his former mother and girlfriend turn up the next day to behold his face in one of the plant’s buds. He even gets to say a few final words – “I didn’t mean it!” – which I can’t help thinking would make a lousy epitaph.
“Poor Seymour. Just a simple shop worker who made a simple mistake. And he’s going to have to live with it, for all eternity… in the Twilight Zone.” Doo-doo-doodoo-doo-doo-doodoo-doo-doo-doodoo-doo-doo-doodoo…
I’m sorry, I just had to do that.
6 ½ jam sandwiches.