The 1986 version of 'Little Shop Of Horrors' holds a very special place in my heart. It was one of the first films I viewed in the theater. My parents took me to it when I was five years old, and I remember loving every minute of it. Director Frank Oz deftly mixed a musical with retro sci-fi and created this quirky masterpiece based on Roger Corman's 1960 original film, as well as the stage musical. And as this Blu-ray release proves, even after 26 years, 'Little Shop of Horrors' is still an inspiring and highly entertaining film. Not to mention the fact that we finally get to see the rare, never-before-released 20 minute original ending.
'Little Shop of Horrors' centers around a shy and nerdy orphan named Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis), who was taken in by Mr. Mushnick (Vincent Gardenia), a local florist, when he was a kid. Seymour has spent his life living in the basement of Mr. Mushnik's shop and working for him. The only other employee at Mr Mushnik's plant shop is Audrey (Ellen Greene), a busty, beautiful blonde with whom Seymour is secretly in love. Although Audrey does dream about a life with Seymour outside of the plant shop and city, she does not share her feelings with him, for fear of her cruel and insane dentist boyfriend, Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin).
However, Seymour's life is forever changed during a total eclipse of the sun, when a strange plant appears out of thin air at a rival local plant shop. Seymour purchases the bizarre looking plant in hopes of attracting business to Mr. Mushnick's decaying shop. Instantly, people take notice of the plant and start doing business at Mr. Mushnik's shop, but at a life threatening cost. The plant, which Seymour names Audrey II, only feeds on human blood. So days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months where Seymour drains his blood on a daily basis to feed Audrey II. Since Seymour is so good about feeding Audrey II, the plant grows to an enormous size, thus needing more blood. Soon, Audrey II is speaking fluently and requesting that Seymour kill people so it can eat. The true intentions of the plant are soon revealed, which prompts Seymour to take serious action.
I'm so glad that fans of the film will finally get to see the original ending to this film. The ending we all saw in the theaters and on the last DVD release ends on a high note, however, the ending originally intended, which was also the conclusion to the stage version, is a bit more grim. This ending was approved by the studio, but test audiences were upset by it, so they canned it and shot the one that we've seen since 1986.
Frank Oz did a perfect job casting this film. Rick Moranis is amazing as Seymour. He brings his wit and nerdy charm to every second of the film, and who knew that Moranis could sing. Ellen Greene played Audrey in the stage version for a number of years, so it was a no-brainer that her impact on this character could not be matched. And her and Moranis's chemistry is incredible. And of course Steve Martin is the scene stealer as the bad guy dentist. He's funny and sadistic at the same time. Not to mention Bill Murray, John Candy, James Belushi, Christopher Guest, Tichina Arnold, and Tisha Campbell all have cameos.
hen there is the ultimate star of the film, Audrey II. The plant represents a milestone in special effects, puppetry, and animatronics. I still think Audrey II looks just as good if not better than any CG work. That's right. Audrey II was 100% real, meaning there were no CG effects done on the plant. It took at the most 60 people to operate one of the Audrey II's, which made the plant's movement smooth, fluid, and very life-like. In the commentary, Oz says that the scenes with the large plant were filmed at 16 frames per second. Films are usually shot at the normal 24 frames per second, meaning that the human actors had to act in slow motion when doing scenes with the plant. When the 16 frames per second were played back at normal speed, you cannot tell that the slow motion acting was done, which means that every actor and special effects supervisor and technician was doing their job perfectly.
I love the music in this film. It's part 50s and part rock n' roll. Every actor's step and cue is done in sync with the music and it's all very catchy and will have you singing the tunes for days. This 1986 version of 'Little Shop of Horrors' is a perfect example of a remake being better than the original. When you have top notch talent, great music, great dialogue, and the best special effects crew of the time working together, you get the masterpiece that is 'Little Shop of Horrors'.
Warner did an amazing job with the restoration of 'Little Shop of Horrors.' The film has a new and glorious 1080p transfer with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
They did such a good job on this disc, that I noticed things that I had never seen before, and that's coming from a guy who has seen this movie more than 50 times. The detail will knock your socks off. You'll be able to see every color, every vein, and every spore on the plant. Not to mention wrinkles and scars on the actors. The flesh tones were smooth and natural, while the depth of the buildings on set made me think I was actually in a real city.
The blacks were deep and inky, which just added to the dirty city feel. The restoration made the colors pop right off the screen. It really made the film take on a life form of its own. I did not notice any halos, aliasing or dirt of any kind. Even the added original ending looked great, with the exception of a few cuts where the source material was in bad shape. This video presentation blew me away. This will definitely be a go-to Blu-ray to show people how crisp and clear Blu-ray can be with older films.
The impressive audio soundtrack has a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 mix.
I was very happy to hear all of the music and enjoy Levi Stubbs singing once again. The dialogue is crisp and clear and focused on the center speaker with out any hissing or cracks. The score and music is plays flawlessly on the speakers and never drowns out the sound effects or dialogue.
The pitch is perfect and the dynamic range full. It was great to hear the high pitch squeaks of Audrey, and the rumbling of the dentist's motorcycle. The ambient noises of the customers in the shop, and the off screen singing sounds great evenly distributed on the surrounding speakers. This was an excellent audio presentation.
'Little Shop of Horrors' is an amazing musical film. The cast knocked it out of the park, and this is by far the best I have ever seen the film look and sound. It's a real treat to finally get that infamous alternated ending on home video. I do wish some of the other extras were updated though. In my opinion, musical horror comedies don't get better than this. Highly recommended.