Random Review: 'Little Shop of Horrors'
The 1986 musical film Little Shop of Horrors has an interesting backstory. The original movie wasn't a musical. It was a cheap Roger Corman horror/comedy filmed on leftover sets over a few days. Jack Nicholson was in a small part, which is probably the main reason the film is even remembered today. Well, that and the fact that, for some reason in the early 1980s, someone saw this goofy 1960 movie and thought it would be a great basis for an off-Broadway musical. The show premiered in 1982, and it became the basis for the 1986 movie. So the movie is based on a play that is based on a movie.
The movie (the 1986 musical) stars Rick Moranis as Seymour, a goofy guy who finds a weird plant after a freak solar eclipse. He names the plant after the girl he pines after, Audrey. Audrey is played by Ellen Green. She is a good-hearted but flaky blonde with a squeaky voice. They both work at Mr. Mushnik's flower shop. Seymour's plant, Audrey II, begins to attract new customers just as it seemed like the shop may be doomed. Seymour learns that the plant needs human blood to survive. Once he has come to the point where he can't keep giving his own, he finds a solution in Audrey's abusive dentist boyfriend. Mr. Mushnik stumbles across Seymour's evil deed, causing events to escalate to the point where Seymour gives him to the plant too.
Now, at this point I should mention that for this review I watched the director's cut of the movie. The original movie has a traditional happy ending with Seymour and Audrey stopping an invasion of alien plants that eat humans. It was fun and had the obligatory little twist at the end when we see a small Audrey II bulb in their front lawn. The director's cut, however, adds a whole other dark layer of fun to the movie. It was deemed too dark for audiences in the 80s, though I can't help but wonder if it would have turned the movie into even more of a cult classic. If you haven't seen the director's cut and don't want spoilers, stop reading now.
After killing Mushnik, Seymour decides to run off with Audrey and get married. Audrey II has other plans and phones Audrey while Seymour is out of the shop. Audrey arrives and is attacked by the plant. Seymour shows up, but he is too late to save Audrey. She tells him to feed her to the plant so that he can be rich and famous. She dies in his arms, and he does as she wishes. Then he learns that a big corporation took a cutting of Audrey II and plans to sell the killer plants all over the world. Seymour realizes that Audrey II must be stopped from overtaking the Earth. Unfortunately, in this version, he is not successful. Audrey II swallows Seymour and spits out his glasses. Then we see the world overtaken by monstrous man-eating plants. The military can't defeat them and humanity appears to be doomed.
I am actually very surprised that it took as long as it did for the original ending to see the light of day. It looked like it was kind of expensive to film. And as much as I love the version of the movie I grew up with, this one was so much fun. Sure, it was sad seeing Audrey and Seymour get eaten, but then we get to see an army of Audrey IIs rampaging, knocking down buildings, and eating everyone in their path. And let's face it, Audrey II was always the real star of this show. Giving the plant more screen time only makes sense.
Watching the movie as an adult, I also picked up more jokes than I did as a kid. For instance, the three girls that act as a sort of Greek chorus and sing the narration for the movie are named Ronette, Crystal, and Chiffon. For those who are unaware, these were the names of three girl groups popular in the early 60s, which is when the movie is set. There were also some jokes between Audrey and the dentist she is dating (played wonderfully and hysterically by Steve Martin) that suggest that they engage in some kinky stuff in the bedroom. As much fun as this movie was as a kid, it is even better as an adult. The songs are catchy as heck. If you've never seen the director's cut, do yourself a favor and watch it. If you've never seen the movie at all, do yourself a favor and watch both versions. If you have seen both versions, watch them again anyway, because they are awesome.