Film Studies Guest Blog: Little Shop of Horrors

The second film of our Cult Musicals study course was Little Shop of Horrors. Out of all the musicals it’s probably the most well-known. I admit, despite some insistent friends of mine, I’d never actually watched the full 1986 film. (Though I had seen the original 1960 version.) Because of hearsay and reputation, I had high expectations. I was not disappointed.

The film carried some great songs, solid acting performances and some simply stunning puppetry work. It’s a film where it was clear a lot of love and hard work had gone into it, and it shows.

Despite its cult status and the fact it has a few decades behind the release (coming out in 1986), we discovered at the lecture that it was severely lacking in academic appraisal. So, it was up to the discussion to pick apart the film and to come to our own conclusions.

I’ll admit, when started this course this part of it was what I was most nervous about. It feels a little hypocritical, being a university student. Sitting in lectures and discussions are the meat and potatoes of a degree, right? But I know who my course mates are. I had no idea who would be at this course. Sharing opinions with strangers is always a little scary, even if it’s just about how much you loved the singing skills of a man-eating plant.

But as usual, I had nothing to fear. While the group was relatively small and intimate, there were clearly a set of regulars who attend every time a film studies course pops up – which is a testament to their quality – and it didn’t take long to feel welcome and that I was able to share any thoughts freely. In fact, by the end, I found that I had to reign myself in – I’m in the second year of a film degree, so I have to be held back from going into too much detail on the mise-en-scèneand how they connect to the overall allegory of the film (I’m not sure I understood what I just said, either.)

With a varied group of people came lots of thoughts, but overall Little Shop of Horrors still holds true as a favourite. It’s hard to talk down a film when you still have the songs in your head a week later, and Steve Martin is waltzing around as a sadistic dentist.


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