Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Scene Stealer: Little Shop of Horrors

Oddly enough, I was inspired to write this scene stealer piece after my recent trip to the dentist. My visit was pretty routine and painless, nothing at all like Bill Murray’s dental visit in the musical, sci-if horror film Little Shop of Horrors. It was after my dentist mentioned that his previous patient prefers to have his dental work administered without freezing that I recalled the over-the-top dental scene in the film.

For me, Steve Martin steals the show as Orin Scrivello, a leather-jacketed, Elvis impersonating, sadistic dentist and abusive boyfriend. The scene in which he performs a torturous root canal on Arthur Denton, an insanely masochistic dental patient, played by Bill Murray, is twisted and funny.

When you first see Arthur, he’s waiting in Orin’s waiting room, fidgety with glee and excitement at the sound of another patient’s agonized screams. Once in the dentist’s chair himself, he doesn’t wait for the dentist to begin working on him; he starts shoving cotton rolls into his own mouth. As Orin pulls out one shiny, silver and scary-looking implement after another, Arthur becomes increasingly excited. When Orin asks Arthur to say “Ahh,” he opens wide and ecstatically belts it out. Orin shoves tool after tool into Arthur’s mouth, while he delightedly yells, “oh yeah” and asks for more. The dentist becomes increasingly frustrated as his inflictions produce pleasure rather than pain. When Orin begins to drill Arthur’s teeth, he moans and groans like he’s having an orgasm and yells, “Yes! Yes!” with utter delight. Pissed off, Orin tells Arthur to get out.

I was completely captivated the first time I saw the movie. I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember being drawn in by the music, the kooky characters, the absurdity and the dark overtones. Its PG rating was perhaps a little relaxed for the more adult elements and violent scenes in the film. With its Motown-inspired numbers, incredible cast, and rather unusual premise, Little Shop is pure fun and entertainment.


  1. Man, that is my favorite scene in that movie. In fact, all of Steve Martin's scenes in that movie were great including the song "I Want to Be a Dentist".

    The Bill Murray cameo upped everything. I just loved how he said "I'm going to tell all of my friends about you" with that sense of glee.

  2. I love this movie. I remember, as a kid, that this scene really confused me and made me feel weird. I really need to rewatch this.

  3. @thevoid99 - it's cool to hear from another fan of that scene. I think Steve Martin stole the show, and Bill Murray was perfect as the masochistic dental patient. His expressions of glee and delight throughout the scene are priceless.

    @Dave Enkosky - confusion and weirdness are completely understandable reactions to the film as a youngster. I thought it was a little weird when I first saw it too and I didn't know what to make of it.

  4. "Feed me, Seymour!"

    I also loved the scene where the plant is still little and it's sucking on Seymour's finger for the blood like a baby would suck on a bottle.

    Somewhere along the way, I caught a clip from the original 1960 film with none other than Jack Nicholson in the role of the masochistic patient. If you can find it, check it out for the WTFness of it. (Yes, I just made up that term.)


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