The Little Shop Of Horrors (1960)

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Details At A Glance

Category Black Comedy Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1960 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 71:49 Other Extras Menu Audio & Animation
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Roger Corman

Force Video
Starring Jack Nicholson
Jonathan Haze
Jackie Joseph
Mel Welles
RRP $34.95 Music Fred Katz
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 224 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio ?
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Mr Mushnick has a flower shop on Skid Row, and like all businesses on Skid Row, his is not doing all that well. Enough to survive, but that's about all. What he needs is an attraction, something which will stand out and bring more customers into his shop. His dim-witted shop hand, Seymour, comes up with a new breed of plant, based on the Venus Flytrap, in the hopes that it will be something special. Well, it turns out to be a complete nightmare for everyone. When Seymour cuts his finger, he drips blood into the plant's "mouth", and the plant laps it up and grows from it. It turns out that this plant, called "Audrey Junior" (after his equally dim-witted girlfriend Audrey) craves human blood, and Seymour must keep bringing food for the plant, which grows to enormous dimensions. The ending is hilarious and unexpected.

    Jack Nicholson has a small cameo here, and being only 23 he looks very young, but plays his role of a masochistic undertaker with the kind of spark which screams "this actor is going to go places".

    Made on a shoe-string budget in 1960, The Little Shop Of Horrors is definitely a classic piece of movie-making. The script was reputedly whipped up in less than a week, and the entire movie filmed in a few days on a set which was left over from a previous production. Most of my criticism must be taken in the context of absolutes; this film simply is not going to look and sound like a contemporary, big-budgeted production. It does have a certain charm about it though which transcends the limitations of its production, and I enjoyed watching all 72 minutes of it.

Transfer Quality


    The term "digitally remastered" is one which can be all-too-easily bandied around, with no real meaning any more. It is slapped on the cover of this disc twice, and might lead you to believe that it might look okay. In fact, the actual video quality is little better than VHS, and in some areas worse.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ration of 1.33:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced. I am unable to verify the theatrical aspect ratio, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was much more than the ratio we have here. Certainly I saw no evidence of Pan & Scan at work, and scene composition looked fine within the frame.

    The image is quite lacklustre in all areas, having very little contrast to it. Sharpness is quite poor, with little detail resolved in the picture. Shadow detail was at times very poor, and other times acceptable. There is no low-level noise; in fact, this transfer simply doesn't have the clarity to resolve noise or film grain anyway.

    This movie is in Black & White, though on my display it comes across as slightly warmer, or sepia.

    In keeping with the other Force Video discs I have watched, this one suffered dreadfully from poor MPEG compression, and it is this area where VHS would actually look superior. One of the worst kinds of artefacts in my book is the dreaded blurring whenever motion occurs;  it is very off-putting especially on a larger screen. It is rife with this transfer, and it begs the question: do these discs actually go through any kind of quality control? It would appear not.

    There was little in the way of film artefacts. Film-to-video artefacts were also absent, save for the dreadful MPEG encoding.


    The audio quality is in the same league as the video.

    There is just the one "digitally remastered" soundtrack, that being Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. The menu gives you the initial impression that there are two soundtracks, one being the standard and the other being the remaster. In fact, there is only the one, though it certainly doesn't sound as good as you might expect for a remaster.

    Dialogue was generally intelligible, though some of the voice-over film-noir type narration was difficult to understand given that the person saying it mumbled through it.

    Audio sync was generally good, though at times it hinted of going astray.

    The score is distinctly different, being playful and slightly bent. It suits the movie quite well. The sound quality is shrill and sometimes jarring, sounding very thin and lifeless. I am not going to be too picky with a budget 1960 film, but I will say that at times is seems that the "remastering" may have made things worse. Quite often, foley effects sounded "doubled up", giving a comb-filter effect on them and making them sound even thinner and more indistinct than usual. Vocals would sometimes suffer this effect also.

    The soundtrack never descends to a depth even remotely close to the subwoofer, so it stayed quiet.



    A decent menu, which in keeping with the movie is also in Black & White. The menu is enhanced with audio from the movie and animation, though not much is really on offer apart from the movie. The audio selection is odd in that you can only select the one track anyway, so why include it?


    A short description of the movie, and of little value.

Production Notes

    Again, very short and of questionable value.

R4 vs R1

        Currently not available in R1, though it does appear they will have a special edition version sometime in the middle of this year. You might want to hold off for that one if your player is multi-region capable, as I am sure its quality would have to better this version.


    An interesting and humorous excursion into the absurd, I enjoyed this movie for many reasons. Mal Welles is brilliant as Mushnick, and he carries the movie. The plot is silly but fun, the acting is clichéd and the quality is definitely wanting, but it is worth a watch if for nothing more than morbid curiosity.

    The video quality is no better than VHS.

    The audio is listenable, but of low quality.

    There are no substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
27th February, 2000
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive