Sunday, May 22, 2016

Movie #362: Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy/horror musical based on the stage play by Howard Ashman, which was in turn based on a b-movie by Roger Corman. It stars Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Levi Stubbs, and has a boatload of other famous folks in cameos.

Seymour (Moranis) is a schlub living in Skid Row, working at a decrepit flower shop for Mushnik (Gardenia), and alongside his crush, Audrey (Greene). About to close forever, Mushnik allows Seymour to put his strange unusual flytrap in the window, resulting in immediate business. Turns out said flytrap is an alien plant that feeds on blood, and, as it grows, becomes able to talk (voiced by Stubbs). Its hunger ever growing, it demands Seymour kill people to feed it. He starts with Audrey's abusive dentist boyfriend (Martin), and things just degenerate from there.

Now, at the end of the movie something interesting happens. I own the director's cut on DVD, but I'd never actually watched it; before that I owned the theatrical release on VHS and that was the one I was familiar with. I've seen the stage show a bunch of times, though. There are three different endings, and they all do different things:

1) In the stage show, the plant mortally wound Audrey. She asks that Seymour feed her to the plant, so that she can be with him forever in some small way. Seymour complies, but then when he discovers that the plant intends to conquer the world, climbs in with a machete to try and kill it (it eats him and spits out the machete). The plant goes on to conquer the world, as the chorus pleads with the audience "Don't Feed the Plants."

2) In the theatrical release, the plant tries to eat Audrey, but Seymour saves her, and then confronts the plant when he learns about the plan for conquest. The plant sings "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" (written for the movie) and demolishes the shop, but Seymour electrocutes it and it explodes. Seymour and Audrey live happily ever after.

3) In the director's cut, we get a weird combination. Audrey dies, Seymour feeds her to the plant, he confronts it after the "oh hey we're going to breed and sell these" bit, "Mean Green Mother," building demolished, but then the plant picks him up, swallows him (in a horrifically lingering manner) and spits out his glasses. He dies like a completely useless wuss. And then we get what must be 10 full minutes of the giant plants destroying cities across the world, ending with one bursting through the screen.

Now, in the stage show, the tragic ending works because a) it doesn't drag on forever and b) the tone is pretty consistent throughout and c) everyone comes on and takes a bow, effectively resurrecting them before the audience. In the theatrical cut, the happy ending feels a little tacked on, but it's tight and quick, at least. It doesn't quite match the rest of the movie, but it's not completely out of step, either. In the director's cut, the ending just drones. It's self-indulgent and unnecessarily sadistic, and the addition of the song (which helps the theatrical cut) only serves to bloat the whole thing.

So: I think what I need to do is get rid of this DVD and pick up the theatrical version.

My Grade: B+ (theatrical version), C+ (director's cut)
Rewatch Value: Medium high (theatrical version), IINSIAIFWT (director's cut)

Next up: Little Women