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Little Shop and Other Horrors by Peter D'Amato

Little Shop of Horrors PosterFor the past two or three years, there have been rumors that there's a remake in the works of Little Shop of Horrors.  Not the musical, mind you, but a remake of the original Roger Corman shot-in-three-days 1960 black and white original!  This rumor is dubious, however, and on the web site (the independent movie data base) the page for this film says "Under Development", but you have to be a "special member" (which I believe means part of the movie industry) to get any details of who's producing the film.  Among some comments is that this alleged remake might not even be a comedy, but a drama !!!!   As Mr. Mushnik would say, "Oy vey!!!" 
Many people have seen the 1986 film version of the off-Broadway musical directed by Frank Oz, which had a fabulous cast and great songs (although some songs were cut, like the tango "Mr. Mushnik & Son").  Rick Moranis played Seymour, Ellen Greene played Audrey (as a ditzy blonde, however Ms. Greene is actually a frizzy haired brunette!), Vincent Gardenia was Mushnik, the owner of the floral shop in Skid Row.   Many consider Steve Martin's performance as Orin, the demented and sadistic dentist, his greatest role, and the cast also included Bill Murray, Paul Dooley, Christopher Guest, James Belushi,  and John Candy, all prime actors in the 1980s.  Levi Stubbs was the voice of Audrey Two.
This very "American" musical was actually filmed in England, believe it or not, and the awesome sets of skid row in New York took months to build.  More incredible were the mechanical "puppet robots" that were created of both the little Audrey Two and it's much larger mature model, an electronically controlled creature that took dozens of people to operate.
This was probably the last of the "monster films" that used actual mechanical models instead of the computer generated horrors that started to appear in the 1990s.  Many interesting problems came up during the filming.  As one example, during the duet of Seymour and Audrey Two ("Suppertime"), the singing gets rather fast and intense and the automated model of the singing plant wasn't able to move it's lips quite as fast as the song demanded.  Rick Moranis had to "mime" his singing in slow motion to match the singing monster, and later the actual voices were dubbed in.
Seymour and Audrey
I have seen the stage version  several times, (ironically the most produced stage show in America, out-doing the original chestnut "Our Town" in the 1990s) and also own the original hardcover screenplay of the musical (which cost me a lot of money!).  I was always puzzled as to the very different ending the stage version had compared to the film, and a few years ago I found out why.  The original ending was greatly changed before release!
When the production company did a couple of previews of the original film (in San Jose, California, and Los Angeles too), the audience was horrified and gave the movie a rather dismal review.  In the original, the "girl" Audrey as well as Seymour, are actually KILLED and EATEN by the monster plant !!!  Most of the audience was shocked, they loved the characters and wanted them to live!
So Frank Oz, the director, pulled the film before release and spent months creating a completely new ending, the cast was called back, as well as special effects people, and they gave us the version nearly everyone has seen:  Audrey Two is electrocuted to death and Seymour and his love Audrey live happily ever after in their cartoonish little house in the country.
However, thank the gods for "Director's Cuts"!!!  In 2012, Frank Oz released a new DVD of the film, including the original (as well as the released) endings.  In the original, not only are Seymour and the love of his life devoured by Audrey Two, the monster propagates itself, and dozens of monster Audreys take over New York City!  Buildings are destroyed, the Statue of Liberty ruined, hundreds of screaming New Yorkers being eaten alive, all to a song called "Don't Feed the Plants!"  (which was cut from the revised version)!  This completely changes the final twenty minutes of the film and it's quite an incredible ending.  What fun!  Also in the DVD Director's Cut version there's an introduction by Frank Oz, explaining the complex history of the film, and an absolutely fascinating and detailed documentary covering everything about how the movie was made.
As to remakes of the Roger Corman comedy (and it really is a very funny film), we'll just have to wait and see............... 
~Peter D'Amato

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  • eric on

    There was a lot to say about this film (but i want to keep my comment short), i’m glad they kept the original horror ending…!
    I miss this classic and want the original on DVD. :D

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