Yesterday, I watched the original Roger Corman movie, The Little Shop Of Horrors. Today I am watching the musical version that I grew up watching. So apparently, the original movie had a large enough cult following that, in 1982, somebody decided to make an off Broadway musical based on the movie. When it became successful, David Geffen, who was one of the show’s producers, decided to make a feature film version. From 1987 to 1990, I probably saw this movie a hundred times, first on the premium channels and then later on cable tv, and I would always sit and watch no matter which part it was on. So here is today’s movie, Little Shop Of Horrors.
The plot: In 1963, Seymour Krelborn lives in the slums of New York City known as “Skid Row” and works at Mushnick’s flower shop alongside the owner, Mr. Mushnick and Audrey, though Seymour and Audrey both wish to leave Skid Row. When they don’t have a single customer all day, Mushnick declares that he is going to close up the shop but Audrey stops him and has Seymour fetch the plant that he has been growing. Seymour brings up a strange plant, which he named Audrey II, and says that if he puts it in the window, maybe people will notice it and come in. Mushnick is skeptical at first but a stranger suddenly comes in the store, and asks about the plant. Seymour explains that he bought it at a Chinese flower shop after a recent solar eclipse and the man is so intrigued by the story that he decides to buy $100 worth of roses. More and more customers begin to come in and Mushnick offers to take Audrey and Seymour out to dinner but Audrey can’t go as she has a date, though Mushnick thinks she should get rid of her abusive boyfriend. When the Audrey II begins to wilt, Mushnick orders Seymour to stay at the shop and nurse the plant back to health. As Seymour is cleaning up, he pricks his finger on some rose thorns and when he notices Audrey II trying to get at his bloody finger, he lets the plant suck some of the blood, which causes it to grow larger overnight. As the business picks up, Seymour ends up giving a radio interview, telling everyone about Audrey II as well as plugging Mushnick’s shop. Mushnick and Audrey listen to the interview but after they leave the shop, some girls comment about Audrey’s injured arm and say that she should ditch her boyfriend and hook up with Seymour. Audrey dismisses the idea, saying that Seymour is just a friend but later, she dreams about a future where she is married to Seymour. As Seymour continues to give it his blood, Audrey II grows to enormous size and customers keep coming to the store and buying flowers. When Seymour forgets to make a funeral arrangement for Mrs. Shiva, he and Audrey work quickly to make one. Afterwards, Audrey tries to help lift Seymour’s spirits and offers to take him shopping but when he asks to do it that night, she says she can’t as she is going on a date with her boyfriend. That night, Seymour meets Audrey’s boyfriend Orin Scrivello D.D.S., a somewhat sadistic dentist and after they leave, Seymour complains to Audrey II about the guy. When Audrey II wilts and Seymour is unable to give it more blood, Audrey II begins speaking and suggests Seymour kill Orin in order to feed him. Seymour is reluctant to kill anyone but when he sees Orin slap Audrey, he agrees to go through with it. Seymour takes a gun and goes to see Orin, who dons a homemade gas mask so he can constantly inhale nitrous oxide as he prepares to perform surgery on Seymour. When Seymour points his gun at Orin, Orin tries to turn off the gas but accidentally breaks the valve, causing him to suffocate from the gas. Seymour takes the body back to the shop and chops him into pieces, unaware that Mushnick sees him chopping up the body. The next day, Seymour sees Audrey being dropped of by the police and she tells them they were asking her about Orin. When Audrey feels guilty about wishing something had happened to Orin, Seymour conforts her and the two admit their feelings towards each other and share a kiss. After walking Audrey back to her apartment, Seymour returns to the shop, where he is surprised by Mushnick, who tells him that he saw Seymour chop up Orin. Mushnick plans to take Seymour to the police but then changes his mind and decides to let Seymour go in exchange for telling him how to care for Audrey II. As Seymour starts to tell him, Audrey II opens her mouth and as a surprised Mushnick looks in it, Audrey II proceeds to eat him. Afterwards, Seymour finds himself beseiged by people wanting him to do interviews and sign contracts and the pressure gets to him. After Audrey tells him the people will be back with more money tomorrow, he asks Audrey to marry him and they will take the money and leave Skid Row. Audrey agrees and goes to get ready while Seymour tries to leave the shop but when Audrey II demands to be fed again, Seymour agrees to go to the butcher shop and feed it one more time. After Seymour leaves, Audrey II grabs the telephone and calls Audrey, who is shocked and heads over to the shop. When she gets there, Audrey II grabs her and tries to eat her, but a returning Seymour manages to rescue her and get her outside. Seymour apologizes to Audrey, who says she would still love Seymour regardless of what happened. When a salesman approaches Seymour and wants to grow more Audrey II’s and make it a worldwide phenomenon, Seymour chases off the man and decides to destroy Audrey II. Seymour confronts the giant plant but Audrey II reveals that it is really an alien and easily fights him off and ends up collapsing part of the roof onto Seymour. Audrey II laughs in celebration but suddenly, Seymour’s hand bursts free from the rubble clutching an electrical cable, which he uses to electrocute Audrey II, causing it to explode. Emerging from the ruined shop, Seymour and Audrey embrace and later, they arrive at their new house, which looks like the one Audrey dreamed of, and as they step inside, the camera focuses on their garden, where an Audrey II bud is seen smiling.
Little Shop Of Horrors was well received by the critics, currently holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus was that the movie was a great blend of camp, horror, and catchy tunes, with some great cameos thrown in. The movie would be nominated for two Academy Awards, Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song, but would lose to Aliens and Top Gun respectively. With a box office total of over $38 million, the movie was a modest success in theaters but really made it’s money when it hit the video shelves.
You know, I think this might be the only musical that I own. Regardless, this is a great movie to watch. Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene were both fantastic and really matched the characters from the original movie. I thought it was funny that Ellen Greene was not the first choice for the role, even though she had been playing the role in the musical for years. The plot was based off the original movie and the musical, though they changed the original ending where Audrey and Seymour die to the more happy ending after the test audiences reacted negatively to the depressing ending. The special effects were really good, particularly the puppetry involved with Audrey II. Director Frank Oz and Jim Henson both said that the lip syncing with the plant was some of the best they had seen. This movie is so much fun to watch, you won’t even care about all the singing.
Rating: 4 out of 5