Little Shop of Horrors

Viewed – 03 November 2014  Blu-ray

Director’s Cut & Theatrical Cut

This was a firm favourite for me during the eighties.  Some of my favourite comedy actors, such as Rick Moranis & Steve Martin are pulled together in a quality musical-fantasy-love-story-horror-movie that shouldn’t have worked but for some reason it did.  I must have watched that old VHS a ton of times.  So we come to this Blu-ray release and how does it shape up all these years later?

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

The story is about a nerdy flower shop assistant called Seymour (Moranis) who is secretly in love with the glamorous but ditzy Audrey who happens to be in an abusive relationship with psychotic dentist Orin (Steve Martin on brilliant form).  The shop isn’t making much profit however and the grumpy owner Mushnik is tempted to close doors until Seymour reveals the strange and unusual plant he stumbled upon.  Suffice to say it attracts business to the shop big time, whilst Seymour gradually discovers the cute little plant only seems to feed on human blood.

First and foremost this is a musical with some real sing-a-long foot tappers such as the brilliant opening title song performed by a re-occurring gospel / motown trio, as well as stand outs such as ‘down town’, ‘mean green mother’ and the excellent power-ballad ‘suddenly seymour’.  No shock this was based on an off-Broadway musical by the same name.  The cast mostly excell, with Moranis, a stalwart of the put-up-on loser role he did so well in movies like Ghostbusters … proving a surprising singing talent.  Less effective is Ellen Green as Audrey who granted, is meant to be dippy and silly but grates from the moment she appears (that voice).  Thankfully we get Steve Martin in an extended cameo and his rendition of ‘you’ll be a dentist’ is personally the highlight of the movie.  Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops also voices monster-plant Audrey II brilliantly – larger-than-life, menacing and also kinda adorable (initially) …and damn can he belt out a number!  The animatronics and puppetry here is also first class and in this age of wall-to-wall CGI stands up very well indeed, probably looking better than if the movie was done today.

Little Shop Of Horrors is often not mentioned in the same sentence as musicals like Grease and The Sound of Music, but deserves to be – it’s a great deal of fun..  It’s very artificial (often embracing the fact it was all filmed on a set) and quite absurd and over-acted, but this is also much of the charm.  A comedy musical classic not to be missed.

The Blu-ray is a mixed back,.  First it houses two cuts of the movie, with the extended ‘director’s cut’ boasting a lengthy alternative conclusion which I didn’t care for.  Other than that the movies are identical.  The big let down for me is that both versions are not exactly bursting with detail and look rather fuzzy and dark in high-def.  Thankfully the 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack manages  to deliver the songs and crisp dialogue well, so it’s not a complete disaster.  Extras consist of a Frank Oz introduction and commentary on the director’s cut, outtakes, deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes documentary.  Not bad but the underwhelming treatment of the movie itself and the purely curiosity value of the director’s cut still makes this disappointing.


(the movie)  4 /5

(the Blu-ray)  3 /5

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