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 The DC version was briefly available on DVD in the late 1990s but got quickly withdrawn due to rights issues, so fans will be happy to get it here – especially since the DVD offered compromised visuals that demonstrate enormous improvements here.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.