Variety reports the death of screenwriter and occasional director Charles B. Griffith, who was of such importance to the mainstreaming of cult movies that Quentin Tarantino dedicated his recent Death Proof to him.
You may not know Griffth’s name, but you’re sure to recognize the voice bellowing “Feed me! I’m HUNGRY!” from the original version of The Little Shop of Horrors. Along with providing the voice of the carnivorous plant Audrey Jr. (a performance it took Levi Stubbs to match in the 1986 musical adaptation of Little Ship of Horrors), Griffith also wrote the film. Little Shop had a streak of jet-black humor, which would prove to be a huge inspiration to the Tarantino generation. Producer-director Roger Corman shot the film in two days, which featured an unforgettable appearance by a 22-year-old Jack Nicholson as a masochistic dental patient ("Aren’t you gonna pull any?") Just in case you somehow did forget Jack’s role, take a look:
Griffith’s legend didn’t end there. He also wrote Little Shop’s companion piece, the equally bleak comedy Bucket of Blood, starring future cult icon Dick Miller. In the 60s he kickstarted the biker genre with The Wild Angels and The Devil’s Angels, and wrote the original script for Corman’s drug drama The Trip (though co-star Nicholson got the screen credit for his rewrite). He is also rumored to have contributed to the script for another 60s cult classic, Barbarella.
And in the 70s, Griffith was responsible for two more exploitation classics: the Ron Howard vehicle Eat My Dust which Griffith also directed; and Death Race 2000, with a post-“Kng Fu” David Carradine and a pre-Rocky Sylvester stallone as two of the contestants in a cross country morot race where drivers get points for running down pedestrians. A remake is in the works, starring Jason Statham and Ian McShane, though I can’t say it sounds like much fun.Read More