Little Shop of Horrors 1986 Cover Don't you find that plants are just a wonderful type of lifeform? They oxygenate the ether. They pollinate the land. They smell very nice. And they eat human beings so they can stay alive. What? You don't believe me! Just ask the Director: Frank Oz; or the Actors: Rick Moranis, Bill Murray, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, and John Candy. But only in 1986, and for about 94 minutes.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

By in large it's pretty safe to say that Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) is a very hard done by botanist. Not only does he works in a florist owned by Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia), which is situated in downtown, skid row. Furthermore, whilst he pines for his work-college, Audrey Fulquard (Ellen Greene), day in, day out, he tends to his plants, both in his spare time and in his workplace, because he has nothing better to do.

However, one day, Seymour's fortunes quickly change when he comes across a plant that he found during the eclipse -- one that he names 'Audrey II’.  Plus as soon as Seymour puts this usual looking plant into Mr Mushnicks shop window, fortunes changes for everyone else as well. Thus thrusting Seymour and Audrey II into the media spotlight, all with a little help from the local DJ (John Candy).

OK, so when I say 'everyone'. Of course I don't mean everyone-everyone. In my opinion Audreys machinist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin), isn't really lucky. Because once Seymour discovers that Audrey II needs human blood to survive -- which he, himself, provides to her, with a few drops from his own little finger. As time passes, and Seymour's supplies gradually become depleted, this foul foliage urges Seymour to feed him Orin -- which he does... kind of -- just after Orin tends to his machinist patient, named Arthur Denton (Bill Murray).

But do you know what's even more peculiar than that, folks? Is that the repercussions of this grizzly deed does have both positive and negative connotations for Seymour not so long thereafter. On a positive note, Audrey starts to grow fond of Seymour, although she is still distraught from Orin’s death. Whilst, on a negative note, Mr. Mushnik eventually discovers how Seymour was involved in Orin’s demise, leading him to propose to Seymour one simple proviso...

"Tell me how to feed Audrey II, and you can leave town Scott Free".

Unfortunately... err.. Mr. Mushnik finds out the hard way.

CHOMP! Bye-bye boss.

OK, so now with Mr. Mushnik out of the way with, the media enters Seymour’s life once more -- this time promising him a television series of his own, as well as a way for him to market Audrey II, so that he can profit from it more than he is. But do you honestly think that Audrey II will allow this to happen without another bite to eat first?

No. I don't think so either. And I suppose that is why what next transpires sets the stage for the battle ahead. As it’s man versus mutated plant - world domination needs a hefty grant - a song is sung that reminds me of 'Thriller' - and at the end of day, who's got any weed killer?

Now before I lavish you with my expert opinion (yeah, right) on 'The Little Shop of Horrors', please allow me to garnish you with some appropriate history related to this production first. In 1960, noted film director, Roger Corman, was dared to make this film by the producers of the studio that he worked in. He had one proviso however -- he had to make this film in a single day.

Corman agreed -- succeeded -- and the rest is now history.

A decade or so after this event, this original sixties film was taken to Broadway, and thrust it into the media limelight as a cult classic, thus paving the way for this 1986 film.

Looking down at Little Shop of Horrors

Ellen Greene and Steve Martin
OK, now the history bit is out of the way with, how about some trivia next? (1) The original production of ‘The Little Shop of Horrors’ was Jack Nicholson's first film – in which he played the machinist patient, Arthur Denton. (2) The original ending for A Little Shop Of Horrors, the 1986 film version, had a very different conclusion – Audrey II had won and conquered the Earth. (3) Ellen Greene, who played Audrey Fulquard, also played the same role on Broadway. (4) The sets used to make this film were located in England, and was the same set for Tim Burton's Batman films. (5) All the members of the "Greek Chorus" were named after girl groups, 'The Ronettes', 'The Chiffons', and 'The Crystals'. (6) In 1987, DC Comics adapted this film into a comic book, written by Michael Fleisher, and drawn by Gene Colan. (7) This film went through many changes prior to production. Originally, filmmakers offered the part of Audrey to Cyndi Lauper, Ellen Green, and Madonna. Eddie Murphy was supposed to be the voice of Audrey II. And both Martin Scorsese and John Landis were attached to direct this film at one time or another. (7) The puppets in this movie were made by the Jim Henson group – the same team that made the Muppet show and Yoda [on a side note, the director of this film – Frank Oz – did the voice for Yoda]. (8) Both Steve Martin and Bill Murray improvised a lot of their scenes. (9) This was Robert Ardens last film. And (10) Audrey II appeared in a Pizza Hut commercial after this film was released.

Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors

Finally, so now all of that is out of my system, what do I think about this film. huh? Simple – it’s sh*t.

HA! Just kidding.

Seriously though, this film is one of my top two best musical movies of all time (with ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show' being the other one), and has always managed to wow me with its charm, spender, and perverse sense of lunacy.

For a start, it appears like a live action cartoon movie -- with all the stages, cast, creatures, scene transitions, and production, adhering to a bold and congenial style. Then there is the music -- which I generally like, because it has that rock and roll vibe to it, with a spattering of funkadelic overtones thrown in for good measure. On top of that, there is the cast -- all of whom (cameo, musical, puppet, and leading alike) really put on a performance, and are able to be funny, charismatic, rhythmical, and just fun to watch. Plus finally, there is the story -- OK, no masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination. But what it lacks in substance, it sure than makes up for it in pathos and panache.

Audrey 2 in Little Shop of Horrors

However, if this film did have a bad side to it (pun slightly intended), it would be that Ellen’s breast's are somewhat distracting at times, and that the fleeting 1950’s kitch songs and style are just not my own particular cup of tea.

Apart from that though, this is a great musical-comedy-horror masterpiece, which has stood the test of time, and I am sure will rear its head again in the future. A classic. Including...


LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1986) Reviewed by David Andrews on July 01, 2011 Rating: 5
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