The Filmgroup

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960, Roger Corman)

The filmmaking economy in The Little Shop of Horrors is astounding. Most of the film takes place in one set–the titular shop–and Charles B. Griffith’s script works hard to imply the world outside that set. My favorite bit in the script is probably when leading man Jonathan Haze is shocked to discover peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. His mother (Myrtle Vail in one of Shop‘s only mediocre performances) only cooks food with healing properties, which they have because she adds medicinal ingredients. Griffith’s a funny guy.

Corman’s direction is best with the exterior scenes. The masterful chase sequence through a tire factory is stunningly out of place in a horror comedy. There’s also a great sequence with Haze meeting a loose woman (Meri Welles), who keeps magically popping into shots. Both of these sequences come in the second half of the picture; the first half just has to rely on the great acting.

Haze is fine, so’s Jackie Joseph as his love interest, but Mel Welles carries the whole Shop as Haze’s boss. He should be a buffoon–no one in Shop is wholly sympathetic–but Welles’s sincere performance makes the character the film’s most human.

In the supporting cast, there are good performances from John Herman Shaner and Jack Nicholson. Dick Miller’s great in a too small role. Griffith’s script makes sure Leola Wendorff gets a couple decent moments too.

Fred Katz’s music is awesome.

Shop is quite impressive; Corman, Griffith and Welles all do excellent work.



Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Charles B. Griffith; director of photography, Archie R. Dalzell; edited by Marshall Neilan Jr.; music by Fred Katz; released by The Filmgroup.

Starring Jonathan Haze (Seymour Krelboyne), Jackie Joseph (Audrey Fulquard), Mel Welles (Gravis Mushnick), Dick Miller (Burson Fouch), Myrtle Vail (Winifred Krelboyne), Karyn Kupcinet (Shirley), Toby Michaels (Shirley’s Friend), Leola Wendorff (Mrs. Siddie Shiva), Lynn Storey (Mrs. Hortense Fishtwanger – Society of Silent Flower Observers of Southern California), Wally Campo (Det. Sgt .Joe Fink), Jack Warford (Det. Frank Stoolie), Meri Welles (Leonora Clyde), John Herman Shaner (Dr. Phoebus Farb) and Jack Nicholson (Wilbur Force).

Ski Troop Attack (1960, Roger Corman)

The best thing in Ski Troop Attack is a forty or fifty second conversation between two characters about mortality. Writer Charles B. Griffith has a few other good observations in the dialogue, but they don’t resonate. Nothing in Ski resonates except that one conversation. And the acting isn’t even good. I guess Wally Campo isn’t terrible, but Richard Sinatra’s redneck is awful.

Corman and Griffith give Sinatra a lot to do; the joke is he’s smart but he’s a redneck. It’s not funny the first time–Sinatra’s terrible–and it’s not funny the thirtieth time either.

There’s not much else good about Ski. Some of the shots are good, but only because Corman’s shooting it on a snow covered mountain. There’s bound to be some good shots. Anthony Carras’s editing ruins most of the action scenes, though it’s probably not all his fault. The budget’s probably responsible for a lot.

Not the acting though. Michael Forest plays the lieutenant, Frank Wolff plays the sergeant. From the first or second scene, there’s bickering about who knows better, regular army or the officers. The resolution to that argument’s interesting if only because it comes as a complete surprise. Corman and Griffith don’t build to it at all.

Wolff’s not terrible. He can’t hold up the picture, but he’s not awful. Forest is awful. Not as bad as Sinatra, but bad.

Wait, I was wrong–there is something else good about Ski. Fred Katz’s music.

Otherwise, Ski’s a very long, very boring hour.



Produced and directed by Roger Corman; written by Charles B. Griffith; director of photography, Andrew M. Costikyan; edited by Anthony Carras; music by Fred Katz; released by The Filmgroup.

Starring Michael Forest (Lt. Factor), Frank Wolff (Sgt. Potter), Wally Campo (Pvt. Ed Ciccola), Richard Sinatra (Pvt. Herman Grammelsbacher), Paul Rapp (Pvt. Roost) and Sheila Noonan (Frau Heinsdorf).

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