Film screenings are all about context. You can watch a film on your own, in your living room at any time. But something like Chickenshed’s Halloween showing of Little Shop of Horrors doesn’t come around that often. It was a special event, and a way of framing the picture that changed how it was experienced and understood.
The evening kicked off with a performance by Chickenshed’s youth band. They performed Halloween themed songs like Werewolves of London and the Ghostbusters theme. They are a talented and versatile bunch, with the ability to swap instruments and singing duties. They made each rendition their own and even dressed for the occasion, with the singer appearing in a spiderman onesie. People in the audience dressed up too, helping create a spooky atmosphere for what was a theatrically ghoulish occasion. One man looked like a surgeon in blood splattered overalls.
After a short while everyone headed upstairs for the main event in the dance studio. Much of the film is centred on a flower shop, where the lowly Seymour spends his days toiling away and pining over his beautiful colleague Audrey. It charts the nerdy florist’s fall from grace at the hands of a monstrous, sentient plant with a taste for blood. He is seduced by the romance and fame it promises, leading him to do terrible things he wouldn’t normally do. Little Shop is a comedy horror / musical.
A trio of soul singers appear throughout the picture, narrating the increasingly dark but side splitting tale. The songs make the movie the camp, cult classic it is. They are daft but compelling and uplifting at the same time.
Steve Martin puts in a hilarious, gruesome appearance as a sadistic motorcycle tough turned dentist. The job is ideal for him as he gets paid to inflict pain. The love interest Audrey is sweet and endearing but her warbly, melancholic singing voice is grating to say the least. Her rendition of Suddenly Seymour played on a loop in my head for days afterwards, and it wasn’t because I liked it.
The truth about the plant’s origins and agenda comes to light in a thrilling conclusion. At the peak of its powers, the now talkative mutant takes the limelight to perform the hip-hop inspired Mean Green Mother from Outer Space.
If you like big ballads, macabre humour, or tongue in cheek shenanigans, it’s worth checking out the 1986 Little Shop of Horrors. We reviewed a screening of the 1960 original here.
Chickenshed delivered on their All Hallows’ Eve entertainment, encapsulating what it is to see a movie and dance to some music in the company of likeminded folk, at just the right time of year. All together now – ♫ Little shop / Little shop of horrors…
Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice. Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.