Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend dive into queer and queer-adjacent titles of the past that deserve a watch or a rewatch.
The Camp: Little Shop of Horrors
Lyricist Howard Ashman, along with his longtime creative partner composer Alan Menkin, signaled the future they would have as Disney composers ushering in a studio Renaissance with their off-Broadway hit Little Shop of Horrors. Leave it to music impresario David Geffen to go all-in on movie version which, given the stage version’s reliance on camp, shouldn’t work it all.
And yet the movie works extremely well, thanks in large part to the stylized direction of Frank Oz, fresh off his stint as the puppeteer of Yoda, Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy. Little Shop of Horrors follows nerdy florist Seymour (Rick Moranis) as he discovers a strange venus fly trap-like alien plant. The plant helps revitalize the flower business of his boss Mr. Muchnick (Vincent Gardenia), and helps Seymour capture the eye of his longtime crush, Audrey (Ellen Greene). Little does he know the plant has a taste for human flesh…and a nefarious plan for world conquest.
Goofy as it sounds, Little Shop of Horrors has an odd sincerity about it. Seymour and Audrey’s love story–and the songs that accompany it–have as much passion about them as the tunes from West Side Story. Couple that with wonderful portrayals by Moranis and especially Greene, who gives one of the most underrated performances in musical history. The resulting film has charm, laughs, unforgettable music, courtesy of Ashman’s writing (he penned the script, too), and offers a welcome reprieve from dark times. Right about now, who doesn’t want to be somewhere that’s green?
Streams on Amazon, HBO Max, YouTube, VUDU and Hulu.