“Excuse me: I couldn’t help noticing that strange and unusual plant!”
An unsuccessful flower shop owner (Vincent Gardenia) is happy when his nebbishy employee (Rick Moranis) purchases a small, unusual plant that draws massive attention to his business. However, Seymour (Moranis) soon finds that his plant needs more than the usual substances to survive, and turns to the sadistic boyfriend (Steve Martin) of his beloved co-worker (Ellen Greene) as a source of sustenance.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Bill Murray Films
- Horror Films
- Killer Plants
- Steve Martin Films
- World Domination
Frank Oz directed this enjoyable adaptation of an off-off Broadway horror-comedy musical which was itself inspired by Roger Corman’s quirky b&w cult favorite from 1960. It moves quickly, building on the intriguing storyline in Corman’s original (scripted by Charles B. Griffith) while taking it to even wilder extremes and with much more color (and music). Speaking of music, it’s integral to the script, with each song (by playwright/lyricist Howard Ashman) helping to move the narrative and/or character development forward (they’re all quite catchy).
Perhaps most impressive, however, is Frank Oz’s puppeteering of “Audrey II”, which grows from a tiny and seemingly harmless potted houseplant:
… to a fully-grown force-to-be-reckoned-with:
… to a Godzilla-like monstrosity that has taken over the Earth:
(This ultra-dark, apocalyptic ending was the original one conceived and filmed by Oz; it was altered to something cheerier for theatrical release, but has now been restored.)
Also amusing are various cameos by comedic favorites — especially Steve Martin and Bill Murray’s interactions as a sadistic dentist who encounters his most enthusiastic patient ever.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Fine performances by the leads
- Steve Martin as Dr. Scrivello
- Bill Murray as Martin’s sadomasochistic dental patient
- Truly impressive puppeteering
- A most enjoyable soundtrack
Yes, as a cult favorite.
2 thoughts on “Little Shop of Horrors (1986)”
⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 out of ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (For the 94 minute theatrical cut)
⭐️⭐️⭐️ (For the 103 minute director’s cut)
I first saw this in the 94 minute theatrical cut when the Bradford Science and Media Museum (UK) screened it in 70mm circa 1987 and have been a fan ever since; the score is great and it looks fabulous with magnificent sets and rich cinematography. More recently I watched it with the original ending, which director Frank Oz preferred but tested badly; which is more downbeat and ends with the giant plants running amok and chomping on the army.
I think I like the smaller, more intimate, happier resolution which keeps its human leads front and centre till the end rather than be a SPFX show. In either version it’s a lavish, funny hoot.
Splendid fun but not a must see (the original 1960 film is though).
Must-see – as a modern camp / cult classic and a wildly satisfying musical experience.
I had seen the musical after it moved from off-off-Broadway to off-Broadway (still with Ellen Greene) at the Orpheum, where it had a long run. A thrilling evening.
Director Oz took it, of course, even further. The result is a sort-of re-invention of the musical form (even though, in many ways, it follows conventional musical patterns).
A lot of care went into this film. Detail (in both production and costume design) is endless and Oz kept his vision sharp so that the audience’s attention has lots to focus on almost at any given moment.
The score is superb – as are the songs’ arrangements. Note also that this is a musical without splashy choreography – yet Pat Garrett aids the singers (esp. the phenomenal back-up girl group) by providing them with simple yet effective movements that suggest the level of a dance musical.
The cast is perfection. Appropriately so, Greene runs away with the film – though there is memorable support by Moranis and Martin. (I also like Murray in the surprisingly gay sequence which was not in the original stage production.)
Re: the two versions of the ending… normally when there are different endings for the same film, I might prefer one over the other. Here, though, I’m not bothered either way. Both versions work equally well. It’s nice to have a choice, with the blu-ray.