Monday, March 24, 2014

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)

A while back I had posted a review of the original 1960 Roger Corman film and in that I did make mention of this not-quite-remake.  It's an interesting chain to get from there to this one because the stage show was an adaptation of the film and then this film is an adaptation of that stage show.

I said a lot about this film already but I'll say it again, the songs are great, and Levi Stubbs in particular stands out whenever he's singing.  The other actors are comedic actors first and foremost, so their voices are not as strong, but the catchiness of the tunes usually makes up for it.  Ironically, Ellen Greene is a broadway performer and yet she's the one who I like the least.  I suppose it's a style choice and I just don't care for it.

I did really like the set design, which looks a lot like a stage show, giving everything a slightly plastic look to it.  The puppets used for Audrey II also look great and move well, which is no real surprise since Frank Oz is the one directing the film.

Steve Martin is great as the sadistic dentist, but Bill Murray really does steal his scene as the masochist coming in to be tortured.  It's so completely over the top and hysterical and even if you're not a fan of musicals, you owe it to yourself to find this scene and watch it.

This time around I was able to watch the original ending of the film, the dark ending in which Seymour and Audrey die.  I can see why some people didn't like it, as it is very dark and scary, but the song and the effects used as the plants take over the world is fantastic, and it's a shame that most people never got to see this.  The dark end also makes sense for Seymour, who has been murdering people up until now.  Yes, he was manipulated by Audrey II, but he didn't put up much of a fight up until the end.  The story is largely a revenge fantasy for him, and revenge fantasies often (and in my opinion should) end with the person paying the ultimate price.  I also just enjoy dark endings when they are told well.

I would recommend the film to pretty much anyone, regardless of whether you like musicals or not.  Between the strong cast and the excellent puppetry, I think there's enough here for just about anyone to enjoy.  If you're already familiar with the film but haven't seen the original ending, you can find it out there on Youtube as well as on the recent blu-ray release.

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