Little Shop of Horrors (film): Wikis

  
  
  

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Little Shop of Horrors

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Oz
Produced by David Geffen
Written by Howard Ashman
Narrated by Stanley Jones
Starring Rick Moranis
Ellen Greene
Vincent Gardenia
Steve Martin
and Levi Stubbs
as the voice of Audrey II
Music by Miles Goodman
Alan Menken
Howard Ashman
Cinematography Robert Paynter
Editing by John Jympson
Studio The Geffen Company
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) December 19, 1986
Running time 93 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30,000,000
Gross revenue $247,934,754

Little Shop of Horrors is the 1986 Black Comedy musical film adaptation of the off-Broadway musical comedy of the same name by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a nerdy florist shop worker who raises a vicious plant that feeds on human blood. Menken and Ashman's off-Broadway musical was based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Roger Corman.

The film was directed by Frank Oz, and stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and the voice of Levi Stubbs as the plant. Ashman wrote the film's screenplay, his first and only one before his death in 1991.

Little Shop of Horrors was shot on the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage at the Pinewood Studios in England, where a "downtown" set, complete with overhead train track, was constructed. The film was produced on a budget of US$30 million, in contrast to the original 1960 film, which, according to Roger Corman, only cost $30,000.[1] The film's original 23-minute ending, based on the musical's ending, was rewritten and reshot after receiving negative reviews from test audiences and has never been seen since besides black-and-white workprint footage. The film did well at the box office, making over $245 million worldwide.

Contents

Plot

The film opens with the words read by Stanley Jones:

"On the twenty-third day of the month of September,
in an early year of a decade not too long before our own,
the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence.
And this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places..."

Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis), a nerdy young assistant in a New York City florist shop, is trying to store pots but breaks them by accident. Seymour and Audrey Fulquard (Ellen Greene), his coworker, with all the other tenants of their Skid Row area complain of their surroundings ("Skid Row (Downtown)"). The day of an unexpected total eclipse, Seymour discovers a mysterious new plant ("Da-Doo"), which resembles a Venus Flytrap. He names the plant "Audrey II" in honor of Audrey. Seymour has a secret crush on Audrey, but Audrey doesn't know it. However, when the shop closes for the day, Seymour discovers that Audrey II is wilting from lack of food. It refuses to eat anything normal plants would feed on, such as soil, water and sunlight. Seymour accidentally cuts his finger and discovers that Audrey II has an appetite for human blood ("Grow for Me").

As the plant thrives, business booms at Mr. Mushnik's (Vincent Gardenia) previously failing flower shop ("Some Fun Now"). Seymour becomes a local celebrity, but he is very weak because Audrey II needs more and more of his blood every day. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Audrey has feelings for Seymour. She dreams of one day marrying him and moving to a tract house complete with plastic coated furniture, a "big, enormous" twelve inch television screen, and two children ("Somewhere That's Green"). Seymour tries to ask Audrey out, but she has a date with her dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello D.D.S. (Steve Martin), who is revealed to be sadistic and abusive ("Dentist!").

Eventually, the now-huge Audrey II (voiced by Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops) begins to talk to Seymour, demanding more blood than Seymour can give, while offering more fame and fortune in return ("Feed Me (Git It)"). He convinces Seymour to kill Orin after Seymour becomes enraged watching him abuse Audrey. Seymour books an appointment with Orin and arms himself with a revolver - although he cannot bring himself to actually use it. However, Orin, disappointed with his previous algolagnic patient Arthur Denton (Bill Murray), decides to amuse himself by huffing nitrous oxide. His gas mask malfunctions and before Seymour's eyes, Orin laughs hysterically and dies from asphyxiation.

Seymour drags Orin's body back to the flower shop where he uses an axe to chop it up for Audrey II (per its demands). Mr. Mushnik passes by the flower shop and witnesses Seymour's actions, fleeing in fear without being noticed. Seymour feeds the body parts to the plant and he continues to grow larger as the movie progresses.

After a sleepless night, Seymour discovers two policemen questioning Audrey about Orin's disappearance. She says that she feels guilty about Orin's death, even though she did not cause it, because she always secretly wished that he would disappear. Seymour tells Audrey that she is beautiful and shouldn't have such low self-esteem. They admit their feelings for each other and kiss ("Suddenly Seymour").

That night, Mushnik confronts Seymour and accuses him of being an axe-murderer. Seymour confesses, "It's true, I chopped him up, but I didn't kill him!". As Mushnik prepares to hand him over to the police, Audrey II yearns for Seymour to lead Mushnik close to him in order to get him out of the way ("Suppertime"). Before leaving the store, Mushnik suddenly decides to bargain with Seymour, offering Seymour protection if he allows Mushnik to take care of the plant. Seymour is undecided and stands by while Mushnik investigates Audrey II and is attacked and swallowed whole by the carnivorous plant.

Seymour's fortune continues to grow and he becomes a media star ("The Meek Shall Inherit"), but he is very worried about Audrey II's growth and insatiable appetite. He is also afraid that Audrey will only love him if he continues to be famous. He decides to get out of town and marry Audrey, leaving the plant to starve. Audrey II catches him leaving and demands another meal; Seymour agrees, but insists on already-dead meat.

While Seymour momentarily leaves the shop to get the meat, Audrey II decides to put an end to the distraction Audrey has become to his plans. He telephones Audrey and coaxes her to come over, then tries to eat her ("Suppertime (reprise)"). Seymour returns and saves her in the nick of time, and tries to explain to her what happened. When he mentions that she liked him because of the plant and his fame, Audrey reveals that she would still love him even if he was poor again ("Suddenly Seymour (reprise)").

As they share this moment together, they are interrupted by a salesman named Patrick Martin (James Belushi) from World Botanical Enterprises, who offers to breed Audrey II and make a fortune by selling the plant to families around the world. Seymour, frightened, realizes that Audrey II planned for this all along, and that it is out to take over the world.

Seymour confronts and fights the gigantic plant, who by now has little offspring in tow. Audrey II bursts out of its pot and reveals to Seymour that it's an alien from outer space ("Mean Green Mother from Outer Space"). After a brawl with Seymour that wrecks the entire shop, Audrey II manages to latch onto the store's support beams and completely yank the shop to pieces, assuming that Seymour is killed by the mass amounts of debris and bricks that bury him. However, Seymour's arm bursts through the rubble and he grabs a broken exposed electrical wire, using it to electrocute the massive plant and its buds until it explodes.

Seymour survives the explosion, and he and Audrey are safely together again at last. They wed and move to the same suburbs that Audrey dreamed of; however, just before the end credits start to roll, there appears a new, smiling Audrey II bud in their front yard.

Cast

  • Rick Moranis as Seymour Krelborn, our overall good-hearted protagonist is a nerdy florist who loves "strange and interesting" plants.
  • Ellen Greene as Audrey Fulquard, a quiet, ditsy and insecure co-worker; the object of Seymour's affections, but dating the sadistic Orin Scrivello.
  • Vincent Gardenia as Mr. Gravis Mushnik, the grouchy, penny-pinching owner of Mushnik's Flower Shop.
  • Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, DDS, an abusive and sadistic dentist, and Audrey's boyfriend. He serves as the secondary antagonist for the film, being an all around jerk, causing Seymour to sacrifice him to the primary antagonist.
  • Levi Stubbs as the voice of Audrey II, an evil and profane flytrap-like extraterrestrial plant with plans to take over the world. Audrey II serves as the primary antagonist of the film.
  • Tichina Arnold as Crystal, one of the three chorus drop-out school girls
  • Michelle Weeks as Ronette, one of the three chorus drop-out school girls
  • Tisha Campbell as Chiffon, one of the three chorus drop-out school girls
  • James Belushi as Patrick Martin, a Licensing and Marketing executive from World Botanical Enterprises who offers Seymour a proposal to sell Audrey IIs worldwide. (The role was played by Paul Dooley in the unused original ending; Dooley still receives screen credit in the Special Thanks section).
  • John Candy as Wink Wilkinson, the WSKID DJ who enjoys putting on a radio show about "weird stuff" called, "Wink Wilkinson's Weird World".
  • Christopher Guest as The First Customer, the first customer to enter the flower shop and notice Audrey II. He oddly acts like a zombie.
  • Bill Murray as Arthur Denton, a masochistic man who goes to Orin for pain.
  • Stanley Jones as the Narrator, whose voice is heard reading the opening words.
  • Miriam Margolyes as The Dental Nurse, Orin's sarcastic nurse/secretary that Orin appears to enjoy harming frequently.
  • There are plant offspring pods of Audrey II later in the film who sing with Audrey II in the song "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space". They are the "henchmen" of Audrey II. It is uncredited who voiced the plant pods.

Musical numbers

  • "Prologue: Little Shop of Horrors" - Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal
  • "Skid Row (Downtown)" - Seymour, Audrey, Mushnik, Chiffon, Ronette, Crystal, and Company
  • "Da-Doo" - Seymour, Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal
  • "Grow for Me" - Seymour, Chiffon, Ronette, Crystal (Off-Screen)
  • "Somewhere That's Green" - Audrey
  • "Some Fun Now" - Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal
  • "Dentist!" - Orin, Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal
  • "Feed Me (Git It)" - Audrey II and Seymour
  • "Suddenly Seymour" - Seymour, Audrey, Chiffon, Ronette, and Crystal
  • "Suppertime" - Audrey II, Chiffon, Ronette, Crystal
  • "The Meek Shall Inherit" - Chiffon, Ronette, Crystal, and Company
Filmed ending
  • "Suppertime (Reprise)" -Audrey II and Audrey
  • "Suddenly Seymour (Reprise)"- Audrey and Seymour
  • "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" - Audrey II and the Pods
  • "Little Shop of Horrors Medley" - The Cast
Planned ending
  • "Suppertime (Reprise)" / Somewhere That's Green (Reprise)" - Audrey II and Audrey / Audrey and Seymour
  • "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" - Audrey II and the Pods
  • "Finale: Don't Feed the Plants" - Chiffon, Ronette, Crystal, and Company

The film differs only slightly from the stage play. The title song is expanded to include an additional verse to allow for more opening credits. The song "Ya Never Know" was re-written into a calypso-style song called "Some Fun Now", although some of the lyrics were retained. Four other songs ("Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik and Son", "Now (It's Just the Gas)", and "Call Back in the Morning") were cut from the original production score. "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" was written for the film. The full version of "The Meek Shall Inherit" and "Finale Ultimo (Don't Feed the Plants)" were cut from the film, but are included on the soundtrack album. The dramatic reprise of "Somewhere That's Green" was also in the film, but it was cut as well, and only can be found as part of the original ending.

Critical reaction

Little Shop of Horrors has received very positive critical reception. It currently holds a 91% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes by critics.

The Film was also nominated for two Academy Awards"

  • Best Visual Effects
  • Best Song (Mean Green Mother From Outer Space)

It was also nominated for two Golden Globes:

  • Best Motion Picture - Comedy/Musical

Development and production

Little Shop of Horrors was the only film ever written by Howard Ashman, who died in 1991 while he was working on Aladdin. Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and John Landis were all discussed as director before Frank Oz took on the project.[citation needed]

The character of the masochistic dental patient, played in the original film by Jack Nicholson and cut from the stage version, was added back to the story and was played by Bill Murray.

The film's version of Audrey II was an extremely elaborate creation, using puppets designed by Lyle Conway. For the musical numbers (which involved a great deal of movement on behalf of the puppet) the frame rate of the filming was slowed to 16 frames per second, frequent screen cuts were used to minimize the amount of screen time the puppet spent with human actors, and when interaction was totally necessary, the actors (usually Moranis) would pantomime and lip sync in slow motion. The film was then sped up to the normal 24 frames per second and voices were re-inserted in post production. During Audrey II's final stage of growth, 60 technicians were necessary to operate the one-ton puppet.[2]

The song created for the movie, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space", written by Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. It caused a small degree of controversy at the Academy Awards because it was the first Oscar-nominated song to contain profanity and thus had to be censored for the show.[citation needed]

The original ending

Audrey II on top of the Statue of Liberty in the film's alternative ending

The film's 23-minute original ending, based on the off-Broadway musical's ending, was rewritten and reshot after receiving negative reviews from test audiences. The new ending, written by Ashman, changes the fates of the film's main characters and allows for a (basically) happy ending. The film's rarely seen original ending was the preferred choice by Oz and the majority of the actors, including Moranis.

As originally conceived and filmed, the story follows the stage musical's plot: Audrey is attacked by Audrey II and dies in Seymour's arms, begging him to feed her to the plant so that Seymour will get all the fame he deserves. Seymour does so, and in the process coincidentally fulfills Audrey's great wish, that she be "somewhere that's green". After Seymour feeds Audrey to the plant, he attempts to commit suicide by jumping off Audrey's apartment complex. Before he can, Patrick Martin (played in this version by Paul Dooley) climbs to the roof to persuade Seymour to let him cut samples of the plant so that they can grow into little Audrey IIs and be sold across America. Seymour quickly slides down the ladder and crosses the street to Mushnik's while Martin reminds him that plants are in the public domain and can be sold without his permission. After confronting the plant as it sings "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space", the plant tears down the shop, plucks Seymour out of the rubble and eats him. It then spits out his glasses, and laughs evilly as the scene fades to black.

The three chorus girls appear in front of a sparkling American flag (a pastiche of the opening scene of Patton) and narrate how Audrey II becomes a consumer craze like Pet Rocks. People are shown fighting over miniature potted Audrey IIs in an A&P. But soon, Audrey II (along with its army of duplicates) takes over Cleveland, Des Moines, Peoria, and New York City, as the song "Don't Feed the Plants" warns the audience not to give in to evil temptations.[3] In the dramatic finale, Audrey II takes over New York City, attacks the Brooklyn Bridge, fights the U.S. Army, climbs the Statue of Liberty and, in homage to the 1933 classic monster movie King Kong, scales the Empire State Building. There are also various nods to the 1953 film The War of the Worlds. Finally, in the last shot after the title "THE END?!?" has appeared, the plant crashes through the screen of the film and laughs as the camera (the audience) comes closer and closer to its gaping maw.

A special effects team skilled in working with miniatures, led by Richard Conway, went to great lengths to create the finale. The sequence cost $5 million to produce. However, preview audiences rejected this ending as too disturbing.[3] Afterwards, director Oz commented: "In a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don't come out for a bow, they're dead. And the audience loved those people, and they hated us for it."[4] In the final cut, the only miniatures shot by Richard Conway are the New York City streets passing behind Steve Martin's motorcycle ride at the beginning of "Dentist!"

Oz and Ashman scrapped Audrey's and Seymour's grim deaths and the finale rampage, and Ashman rewrote a happier ending, with Jim Belushi replacing Paul Dooley (who was unavailable) as Patrick Martin. In the happy ending, Audrey II is killed and Seymour, Audrey and humanity survive. The musical number "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" was left intact from the original cut, but shots of Audrey observing from a window were added in. This happy ending is somewhat ambiguous, however, with a final shot of a smiling Audrey II bud in Seymour and Audrey's front yard. Tisha Campbell was unavailable for the final appearance of the chorus girls in the yard and was replaced with a lookalike seen only from the waist down.[5] A brief scene earlier in the film, in which Seymour asks Audrey to marry him, was also reshot to provide context for the new ending.

Another cut sequence is seen on the blooper reel on the DVD, in which Seymour is seen running through fog and in the background are white pillars under a black sky. Director Frank Oz, who provided a commentary on the reel, says this was a "dream sequence" that never made the final cut of the film. It is taken from the deleted section of "The Meek Shall Inherit", in which Seymour agonizes over the murders he has committed to feed the plant. Stills from this sequence reproduced in the Little Shop of Horrors photo novel by Robert and Louise Egan show Audrey running through dry-ice fog towards Seymour, only to bypass him and embrace Audrey II (the "Suppertime" sized plant). Another still shows Seymour confronting a giant framed portrait of Mr. Mushnik, and yet another shows Seymour engulfed in vines as if turning into a plant. This sequence was cut, but it appears on the soundtrack album. These scenes are available within the special features section of the DVD.

Other changes from the stage show

Apart from the changed ending, major changes from the stage show include:

  • The deletion of the songs "Closed for Renovations", "Call Back in the Morning", "Mushnik and Son", "Now (It's Just the Gas)" and "Sominex". The reprise of "Somewhere that's Green" and "Don't Feed the Plants" were present in the original ending but deleted in the final cut. The Song "You Never Know" was adapted into the significantly shorter "Some Fun Now". The opening of "The Meek Shall Inherit" was rewritten entirely and was cut to a fraction of its length in the show. The original film version included a solo for Seymour, but it was scrapped later on. Moranis' solo bit for this song can be heard on the film's soundtrack.
  • The character of Arthur Denton, the mascochistic dental patient was not in the stage show. However he does appear in the original 1960 film under the name Wilbur Force, played by Jack Nicholson.
  • The sequence in which Seymour goes to the WSKID radio station and the character of Wink Wilkinson was added. In the stage show, only the tail end of Seymour's radio interview is heard.
  • The sub-plot of Mushnik's adoption of Seymour (motivated to gain rights to the Plant's ownership and Seymour's success rather than by parental affection) is deleted. This can be argued as making Mushnik a far less sympathetic character in the film version.
  • Mushnik does not witness the dismemberment of Orin in the musical, but rather discovers blood drops on the floor and Orin's dental smock in the garbage several weeks after the dentist is fed to the plant. His attempt to blackmail Seymour at gunpoint into giving him the plant is also not present. In the musical he merely confronts Seymour with the evidence he has found.
  • "Suddenly Seymour" and "Suppertime" take place the day after Orin's disappearance, unlike the play in which these events take place several weeks later.
  • Seymour is made less culpable in the deaths of Orin and Mushnik than he is in the musical, thus making him more sympathetic. In the musical, Seymour deliberately refuses to help Orin remove his gas mask before he asphyxiates all during a number which implies that more time passed for him to take action. He also lies to Mushnik that he has left the day's earnings inside Audrey II and instructs him to step inside the plant's mouth to retrieve it. In the film, Seymour's refusal to help Orin is more ambiguous rather than spelled out, and appears to be less of a concrete decision and more of a moment of panicked indecisiveness. When Mushnik dies, Seymour appears to back him up into the plant's mouth, but again it is left ambiguous whether he is doing so on purpose.
  • Productions of the stage show typically have the same actor who plays Orin also provide the voices of the opening narrator, the radio announcer of WSKID, as well as portraying the first customer, and all of the people trying to get Seymour to sign with them during "The Meek Shall Inherit." In the movie, however, all of these parts are portrayed by different actors.

In other media

  • In 1987, DC Comics published an adaptation of the film, written by Michael Fleisher and drawn by Gene Colan.
  • The 1991 children's series Little Shop was based on the concept and characters.
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy gives Trixie a plant that grows rapidly and has a taste for human flesh. The scene where Timmy saves Trixie is an homage to the rescue scene in the film.
  • In the Family Guy fourth season episode "The Courtship of Stewie's Father," Herbert sings "Somewhere That's Green." In the episode "Brian The Bachelor" from the same season, Chris's anthropomorphic pimple is modeled after the plant. Also mentioned in the special Road to Germany when Mort Goldman goes through a time machine.
  • In American Dad, Judy in The One That Got Away, is an obvious reference to Audrey.
  • In one episode of That's So Raven, Raven gets trapped in a greenhouse like place where she eventually encounters a plant resembling the large Audrey II.
  • In an episode of Lilo & Stitch: The Series, one of the experiments (509) is modeled after the Audrey plant.
  • In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, there's an episode called, "Little Rock of Horrors".
  • Audrey II re-appeared in 2004 in a Pizza Hut commercial, along with the other muppets.
  • In the virtual Facebook game, FarmVille, during the Halloween season of 2009, exclusive Halloween-themed decoratons were avalible to players for their farm, one of which included a "Monster Plant" which strongly resembles Audrey II.
  • In the video game Silent Hill, there is a flowershop called "Mushnik's flowers"
  • In the video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, a map is named Skid Row.
  • The show Fanboy and Chum Chum has an episode called Little Glop of Horrors but doesn't parody the plot of the film.
  • The Jimmy Neutron theatrical film includes a girl-eating plant that resembles and spoofs Audrey II.
  • In the TV show Phineas and Ferb, An Audrey II plant is in two episodes. Those episodes are Candace's Big Day and Atlantis. Also, the episode name "Suddenly Suzy" is a spoof on the song name "Suddenly Seymour"
  • The Nostalgia Critic features Dentist in his top 11 Villain Songs countdown, which ended up in a tie with Sweet Transvestite from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
  • The Dentist was based on a character named Alan Feinstone who is also a dentist and he also sadtistically tortures his patients and takes drugs just like the character in this movie Orin Scrivello does.

DVD conflict

Little Shop of Horrors was the first DVD to be recalled for content.[3]

In 1998, Warner Bros. released a special edition DVD of the film. This DVD included approximately 23 minutes of unfinished footage from Oz's original ending, although it was in black and white and was missing sound, visual, and special effects.

David Geffen, the film's producer and owner of the rights, wanted to re-release the film to theaters with the original ending intact.[citation needed] Geffen became angry at Warner Bros. for including this footage on the DVD without his consent, and as a result the studio removed it from shelves in a matter of days and replaced it with a second edition that did not contain the extra material. The original first edition DVD is now a much sought-after collector's item and sells for upwards of $150 on eBay.[citation needed]

On February 28, 2007, Warner Bros. hinted that a DVD reissue, featuring the original ending in color with the missing effects, may be on its way. It was later discovered that the original colored film printing was destroyed in a studio fire years earlier, leaving only the black-and-white workprints available to the studio. David Geffen has claimed to possess a color copy of the original printing,[6][7] but refuses to release it.[citation needed]

References

External links








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