The Coolidge Corner Theatre kicks off a new season of its popular Science on Screen series on Monday, October 3 with a special showing of B-movie maestro Roger Cormanâ€™s 1960 horticultural cult classic The Little Shop of Horrors paired with a pre-screening talk on carnivorous plants by Aaron Ellison, Senior Research Fellow in Ecology at Harvard Forest. The program begins at 7:00 pm.
The Little Shop of Horrors tells the tale of a hapless plant-shop clerk who breeds a new species of plant named Audrey Junior that not only talks, but also needs a special kind of food to survive: humans. Famous for having the shortest shooting schedule on record â€“ two days and a night â€“ this hilarious black comedy helped establish director Corman as an underground legend. Starring Jonathan Haze, Mel Welles, and Jackie Joseph, the film also features an iconic cameo by a young Jack Nicholson as a gleefully masochistic dental patient (possibly not a stretch theatrically.)
Unlike Audrey Junior, carnivorous plants in nature donâ€™t actually devour people â€“ or bellow â€œFeed Me!â€ But because these plants grow in habitats where soil nutrients are in short supply, they must rely on animal prey for sustenance. They catch their dinner using a variety of strategies, from snapping their leaves shut on unsuspecting insects to snagging snacks with sticky tentacles to sucking in their prey like a vacuum cleaner.
Before the film, Dr. Ellison sheds light on the curious world of carnivorous plants and on how these fabulously complex plants can further our understanding of how a complete, functioning natural ecosystem works.
At Harvard Forest, Harvard Universityâ€™s 3,500-acre outdoor classroom and ecological research laboratory in Petersham, Mass., Dr. Ellison studies the evolutionary ecology of carnivorous plants, food web dynamics and community ecology of wetlands and forests, and other phenomena. He has received the National Science Foundationâ€™s Presidential Faculty Fellow award for excellence in research and teaching.
Science on Screen is co-presented by The Museum of Science, Boston and made possible by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Tickets are $9.75 general admission, $7.75 for students, seniors, and Museum of Science members, and free for Coolidge Corner Theatre members. For more information and to purchase tickets online, visit www.coolidge.org/science. Tickets are also available at the Coolidge Corner Theatre box office, located at 290 Harvard Street in Brookline. Phone: 617/734-2500.