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WARNER

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Frank Oz
Cast:
Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Vincent Gardenia, Steve Martin, Tichina Arnold, Levi Stubbs, James Belushi, John Candy , Bill Murray , Christopher Guest
Writing Credits:
Howard Ashman (musical play "Little Shop of Horrors", screenplay), Roger Corman (based on the film by), Charles B. Griffith (1960 screenplay)

Tagline:
A Singing Plant. A Daring Hero. A Sweet Girl. A Demented Dentist.

Synopsis:
A nerdish florist finds his chance for success and romance with the help of a giant man-eating plant who demands to be fed.

Box Office:
Budget
$25 million.
Opening Weekend
$3.659 million on 866 screens.
Domestic Gross
$38.748 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Stereo (Theatrical Version Only)
German Monaural (Theatrical Version Only)
Italian Monaural (Theatrical Version Only)
Castillian Spanish Monaural (Theatrical Version Only)
Latin Spanish Monaural (Theatrical Version Only)
Subtitles:
English
German
Castillian Spanish
French
Italian
Latin Spanish
Closed-captioned
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 93 min. (Theatrical Cut) / 103 min. (Director’s Cut)
Price: $34.99
Release Date: 10/9/2012

Bonus:
• Both Theatrical and Director’s Cuts of Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Frank Oz
• “Frank Oz and Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut” Featurette
• “The Story of Little Shop of Horrors” Featurette
• Outtakes/Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Director’s Cut Ending with Commentary
• Trailers
• Hardcover Book


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Little Shop Of Horrors [Blu-Ray Book] (1986)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 3, 2012)

Movie musicals based on stage productions aren’t unusual, and over the last few decades, we’ve seen plenty of examples of the reverse, as films have been made into Broadway shows.

1986’s Little Shop of Horrors stands as something possibly unique, though. It began life as a low-budget horror flick based on an obscure novel that transformed into an Off-Broadway stage musical that was then adapted into a major motion picture. In later years, Shop hit Broadway – in a reworking based on the movie, not on the original stage show!

Confusing, isn’t it? Today we’ll focus on the 1986 movie and forget about the rest. Set in the early 1960s, nerdy Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) works in Mushnik’s Florist alongside Audrey Fulquard (Ellen Greene). He develops a serious crush on her, but she dates Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin), a sadistic biker/dentist.

Mushnik’s is on the verge of bankruptcy when Seymour discovers a strange and interesting plant he names “Audrey II”. This flytrap-variant immediately brings in customers, but it turns sick and Seymour must nurture it to health.

Along the way, odd results occur. For one, Audrey II bonds with Seymour, grows enormous – and shows the ability to speak. It also feeds only on blood, which means Seymour must find unusual ways to nourish it. Violence ensues.

By 1986, the movie musical was essentially dead as a commercial prospect. Films that involved music heavily did quite well – efforts such as Footloose and Flashdance led this charge – but actual musicals couldn’t attract much business. This led to high-profile disappointments/flops such as 1982’s Annie and 1985’s A Chorus Line.

With a US gross of only $34 million, Shop did nothing to reverse that trend – and given its $25 million budget, it may never have turned a profit. However, even without box office success, I think Shop helped the format. Funny, it felt like a hit to me at the time; I was surprised to read the stats, as I always had the impression it’d done pretty well.

If nothing else, Shop left its mark on the business because it launched the motion picture careers of composers Howard Ashman – who also wrote the script – and Alan Menken. They’d soon go on to fame and fortune at Disney with hits like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

Ashman died in 1991, which was a shame for many reasons, not the least of which the shot in the arm he gave to musicals. I’ve often noted my lack of affection for the genre, but damn if Shop doesn’t work pretty well. It blends its production numbers much better than most and makes them consistently entertaining.

Too many musicals turn into endurance tests with singing/dancing sequences that go on forever. At a tight 93 minutes, Shop is an exception, and virtually none of its tunes goes on too long. They all help advance the plot and entertain in their own right.

Okay, maybe not all of them formally move along the story, as some offer music for music’s sake. Would the movie collapse without tracks like “Dentist”? No, but it’d be substantially less fun. Indeed, “Dentist” probably stands as a highlight of the film, as its combination of a peppy song and Martin’s over the top performance make it a delight.

Shop abounds with cameos from stars that really add to the entertainment. Actually, “abounds” is a little strong, as there aren’t that many big names here – and Martin’s role is too big to be called a true cameo – but these guests nonetheless deliver the most enjoyable parts of the film. Martin gives a performance that’s Elvis as sadistic, nitrous oxide-sucking dentist; he’s entirely broad and scenery-chewing, but it works.

In addition, we get great guest spots from John Candy, Christopher Guest and Bill Murray, the last of whom arguably acts as the film’s highlight. He plays a masochistic dental patient whose enjoyment of pain frustrates Dr. Scrivello, and he’s a hoot. That’s another scene that probably didn’t need to be in the movie for story reasons, but it’s ridiculously amusing, so I’m glad it stayed.

Audrey II comes across as a surprisingly well-realized creation. The puppets involved are quite convincing; I wouldn’t call them realistic, per se, but they’re believable enough and work in a smooth manner. Levi Stubbs’ vocal performance add immeasurably; not only does the Four Tops legend deliver terrific singing, but also he gives the spoken lines real personality and menace.

Unfortunately, the film sags a little in terms of its leads. I loved Moranis on SCTV but he seemed to get typecast in nerd roles, and I think these limited his natural talents. He’s adequate as Seymour but doesn’t do a lot for me in the part.

Greene becomes the weakest link, largely due to her vocal affectations. Her “baby doll” delivery gets old pretty quickly and makes it more difficult to embrace the character. While I don’t think she offers a bad performance, I can’t say I much enjoy her scenes and would’ve preferred an actor who went with less extreme choices.

Those complaints aside, I think Shop works well as a whole. It packages a good mix of comedy and music with an unusual story. It’s not a classic but it’s an engagingly odd piece of entertainment.


The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Little Shop of Horrors appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Given its era, I didn’t expect much from the film’s visuals but thought the image looked pretty strong.

Sharpness was usually solid. A few soft shots occasionally appeared, but the majority of the flick appeared nicely distinctive and concise. No issues with shimmering or jaggies occurred, and edge haloes remained absent. Source flaws were a non-factor. The film featured light grain and a couple of tiny specks but nothing more.

In terms of colors, Shop tended toward a fairly peppy palette. In particular, the costumes could deliver some dynamic hues, and the Blu-ray reproduced them in a lively manner. Blacks were reasonably dense and dark, and shadows showed positive clarity and fullness most of the time; a smattering of slightly dense elements occurred, but those weren’t a major issue. Overall, this ended up as a pleasing presentation.

I also thought the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked well. As one might expect, music dominated the mix, as the songs and score spread to the side and rear speakers in a satisfying manner. These showed good localization and integration, as they allowed the track to use all the channels in a satisfying manner.

The rest of the mix seemed more restricted. Some elements – mostly related to Audrey II – managed to expand to the side/rear channels, and a few additional bits – chattering crowds, vehicles, street noise – added to the experience. However, music remained the most important aspect of the soundscape.

Audio quality showed its age but was fine overall. Speech could be a little reedy but usually sounded natural and concise. Music was the strongest aspect of the track, as the songs and score came across as dynamic and perky. Effects were reasonably accurate, with only a little roughness, and bass response was fine. The audio worked nicely for the movie.

When we shift to extras, the main attraction comes from the presence of both the film’s theatrical version (1:33:53) and its Director’s Cut (1:43:12). The difference comes from the DC’s ending; a darker conclusion that audiences hated, it runs longer due to this alternate conclusion. The DC version was briefly available on DVD in the late 1990s but got quickly withdrawn due to rights issues, so fans will be happy to get it here – especially since the DVD offered compromised visuals that demonstrate enormous improvements here.

Note that the two versions remain identical until the plant attacks Audrey; that’s where the two start to diverge. Both contain some of the same elements, but many changes occur.

Do I prefer one to the other? Not to a huge degree. The Director’s Cut is certainly a whole lot more apocalyptic and extreme, which makes it interesting. That said, the happier ending of the theatrical version works perfectly well on its own.

In fact, while the DC’s conclusion stays true to the original stage production, I actually think the 1986 ending probably fits the story better. Yeah, it’s a compromise to commerce, but it feels more “right” to me; Shop just seems like a flick that should come with a happy ending. Whichever you prefer, it’s nice to have the choice.

Alongside the theatrical version, we locate an audio commentary from director Frank Oz. Recorded for the 1990s DVD, he provides a running, screen-specific look at story/characters and the adaptation of the stage production, cast and performances, sets and production design, various effects, musical numbers, camerawork, the alternate ending and a few other subjects.

In my experience, Oz’s commentaries tend to be hit or miss, but this one works well. Yeah, Oz can be a little dry at times – and he gets obsessed with describing frames-per-second variations - but he nonetheless covers a wide range of movie-related subjects and does so in an efficient, informative manner. Oz delivers more than enough solid film facts to make this a good track.

Two featurettes follow. Frank Oz and Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut runs 10 minutes, 41 seconds and includes notes from Oz and model department visual effects supervisor Richard Conway. They discuss aspects of the original ending and its creation. Some of this touches on the reasons why the DC’s finale got the boot, but most of it looks at the effects, which is a good choice. We’ll hear more from Oz about controversies later, so I’m glad we get useful nuts and bolts material here.

A program created back in 1986, The Story of Little Shop of Horrors lasts 23 minutes, four seconds and offers info from Oz, original film producer Roger Corman, 1986 producer David Geffen, Audrey II designer Lyle Conway, and actors Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, and Tichina Arnold. The piece looks at the 1960 Shop, the Off-Broadway show, and the project’s move to the big screen. We also hear about sets and design, cast and performances, the Audrey II puppet, and some general thoughts. Nothing major pops up here, as “Story” exists for promotional reasons, but it has enough useful material to merit a look.

Under Outtakes/Deleted Scenes, we get a reel that fills a total of eight minutes, 42 seconds. You can ignore the claim that we get deleted scenes, as this is just a basic blooper reel. It’s more fun than most, however.

We can watch the “Outtakes” with or without commentary from Oz. He offers some rudimentary remarks but little of interest.

If you don’t choose to watch the full version, you can check out the Director’s Cut Ending on its own. It goes for 22 minutes, one second and comes with one flaw: you can’t watch it without commentary from Oz. That seems like an odd choice – why not let the viewer opt for it with original audio? I guess the disc’s producers figure that it’s already available in the Director’s Cut found elsewhere, so they didn’t need to bother, but it’s still weird.

Anyway, I’ve already discussed the Director’s Cut, so I’ll focus on Oz’s commentary. He covers aspect of the sequence’s creation as well as the reasons it got cut. He went over the latter in the main commentary, but he offers a bit more detail here, and the additional notes about the creation of the alternate ending usually become interesting. Oz gets hung up on frame rates again, but otherwise he delivers an informative chat.

In addition to two Trailers, the set comes with a Hardcover Book. It features production notes, cast/crew bios, trivia, and photos. The book adds a nice complement to the package.

A quirky and generally likable movie musical, Little Shop of Horrors delivers a fun experience. It combines an odd story with good songs and many delightful performances to become a generally strong effort. The Blu-ray brings us pretty positive picture and audio along with a pretty nice set of supplements. I’m not much of a musicals guy, but Shop works for me.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.75 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main