I remember trying to watch Little Shop of Horrors several times as a kid, and every time I would wind up completely confused, lose interest, and drift. Years later I worked in a video store with a girl who loved, loved, loved the movie and played it on the store TVs about once a week. Through her, I learned every song and just about all of the dialogue in the weird way you do when you constantly have something on in the background but never really pay attention. With the 25th anniversary edition, I finally had a chance to marry the two experiences: watching in bewilderment and singing along with every song. I’m happy to report that the result was total enjoyment. Throwing a talking plant, a nerdy guy, a sadistic dentist, and a sad but beautiful girl in the same movie with a bunch of musical numbers makes perfect sense to me now.
This 1986 film adaptation of the Broadway musical inspired by Roger Corman’s 1960 film is, simply put, awesome. When lonely, nerdy Seymour (Rick Moranis) cultivates a talking carnivorous plant in the basement of the flower shop where he works, it seems as though he may have breathed new life into Skid Row. Suddenly this dying shop is flooded with customers and everyone is taking notice of Seymour. He and his talking plant are front page news, even landing a spot on the radio show hosted by Wink Wilkinson (John Candy), but all of this is of little interest to Seymour. He only has eyes for Audrey (Ellen Greene), his beloved colleague who shows up for work battered and bruised by her awful boyfriend, Dr. Scrivello (Steve Martin), and it seems as though she too is finally noticing him. When the plant announces a taste for blood and starts to sing, “feed me Seymour!”, it creates a perfect storm. Perhaps a dentist would make for a satisfying snack…and leave Audrey free to build a new life with Seymour away from Skid Row.
Though this dark comedy is over the top and outlandish, the fragile romance between Seymour and Audrey is as compelling as that between Romeo and Juliet or Tony and Maria. Regardless of their absurd situation, the couple remains relatable: we want them to be together. We want them to get their house in the suburbs with the tidy green lawn, and the thought of anything standing in their way is enough to make us sick. That’s why the movie works, and that’s why the movie has to end as it does. One look at the alternate ending (included on this disc) is enough to make your head explode, but it makes you thankful that Frank Oz ultimately created the perfect cult classic that he did.
The Blu-ray Director’s Cut comes with a 36 page booklet as part of the case and is loaded with extra features. The theatrical version includes commentary by Frank Oz, as does the 20 minute alternate ending. The featurettes “Frank Oz and Little Shop of Horrors” and “A Story of Little Shop of Horrors” take us behind the scenes with Frank Oz, and he even offers up commentary on the deleted scenes and outtakes. Two theatrical trailers are also included.