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A Blooming Great Night Out with the Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors, Birmingham Botanical Gardens on 19 May

Review by David Court

The evolution of ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ is an odd one. Originally a low budget 60’s Jack Nicholson starring black comedy, directed by Roger Corman, which was adapted into an Off-Broadway musical in 1982. The 1986 film – which was being shown at Birmingham Botanical Gardens as part of the yearly Flatpack Festival – is a cinema adaptation of that musical, arguably responsible for – alongside ‘The Blues Brothers’ - one of the greatest film soundtracks of all time.

‘Little Shop of Horrors’ tells the everyday story of boy meets girl, boy meets plant, plant turns out to be a carnivorous alien entity intent on devouring all of mankind – and what better setting for this toe-tapping eighties classic than the tropical and leafy confines of Birmingham Botanical Gardens?

The Flatpack Festival organisers are notorious for finding interesting settings in which to show classic films – The 2022 festival saw them showing the original ‘The Wicker Man’ at London Road Cemetery on May Day and a live scored version of the 1920 silent movie ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’ at Coventry Cathedral – and this venue choice was equally as inspired.

If there’s one thing that Glastonbury Festival footage teaches us, it’s that we Brits are no strangers to a bit of adversity. Despite an evening of thoroughly miserable weather – never ideal for any outdoor performance – there was a great turnout, and a fascinating and exotic display of coloured umbrellas on display.

The evening kicked off with the musical stylings of Birmingham based Midnight City Soul Band with a rain-banishing selection of soul and Motown classics. A technical difficulty sadly put paid to the short film – ‘Fern’ - that was supposed to precede ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ - vanishing from screen within a few minutes of appearing – but the sun was just setting as the main feature started.

It’s quite a special experience to watch a cult movie surrounded by its fans, especially in such an unusual environment. The rain made two more attempts during the showing of the film to banish us all indoors, but very few were deterred.

Flatpack never fail in their presentation and enthusiasm, and tonight’s showing of this well-loved singalong classic was another example of that. In a country where film festivals tend to be very London-centric, it’s great to have one based in the Midlands going from strength to strength.

Everybody went home with a smile on their face – albeit slightly damper than when they’d came out – and a few of us were lucky enough to encounter the Botanical Gardens resident patrolling feline, Marley.

Find out more about the Flatpack Festival at


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