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

Good Movie Remakes

Generally movie remakes have a bad name despite Hollywood’s insistence on making them.  However in my experience there are a few that while not always improving on the original, at least do a good enough job to be worth seeing, without insulting the memory of a classic.  Find below a few I personally have enjoyed.

Little Shop Of Horrors


Although not familiar with the Roger Corman original, this Steve Martin, Rick Moranis, John Candy starring musical is a riot … very memorable tunes and great practical effects.  I really need to watch this again… soon!

Evil Dead


Was really expecting this to just not get what made the original so good – but it ramped up the gore and violence to epic proportions, had a great cast and was scary … maybe not as tongue-in-cheek as the series is famous for, but still felt like an Evil Dead movie.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre


Am I alone in thinking this version rocks?  Tons of gore (which the original lacked, even though I know that wasn’t the entire point) a perfectly mad performance by R. Lee Ermey and a twenty something bunch of ‘victims’ you don’t immediately hate.

Miracle On 34th Street


Charming with a great performance by Richard Attenborough.  A star making turn by the where is she now Mara Wilson (see also Mathilda).  Haven’t seen original but this was a perfect Christmas treat.



Am I cheating by including this?  A deserved genre classic with a (possible) career best from both Pacino and DeNiro, and yes it’s a remake of TV movie L.A. Takedown.

The Assassin (aka Point of No Return)


Perhaps sacrilege to remake Luc Besson’s La Femme Nikita, and another I think I’m alone in loving.  I had a major crush on Bridget Fonda in this… but its a competent thriller with several decent performances, including a cameo by Harvey Keitel that’s worth seeing!

Piranha 3D


Breasts and naked skinny-dipping porn stars aside, this has gore by the bucket and a fast energetic pace that makes for one of the most fun horror movies in a long while.  Director Alexandre Aja cements his reputation as the go to guy for horror remakes!  (see also: The Hills Have Eyes).



Easy one this.  Not seen the original but with a powerhouse performance by Al Pacino and that line ‘say hello to my little fiend’ this took a basic blue print and seriously went to town with it!

The Thing


This shouldn’t have worked, but with a strong lead by the mouth-watering Mary Elizabeth Winstead  and half decent and freaky CGI, as well as all the atmosphere the original had (ok this is technically a prequel…but it still counts…I think), this really surprised me.

I am starting to think that although they get the worst press, horror remakes have got it right a fair few times going by the list above.  That’s just my opinion though and you may differ.  So what would your choices be?