The original Little Shop feature was a bizarre experiment where Roger Corman wanted to discover if it was actually possible to shoot a film in just two days only. It was...but it creaked a bit! A young Jack Nicholson stole the film with a small but memorable part as a sadomasochistic dental patient. In the early 80's an offbeat musical appeared and then the film of that musical was also en-route.
Frank Oz's mid 80's film stars Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene (reprising her role from the stage show) with appearances from Steve Martin (back when he was still funny), Bill Murray, John Candy and Jim Belushi. With a line-up like that, it's got to be fun! Yep, it's a musical. So it's either gonna have you tapping your foot along or you'll just be sat there impatiently waiting for more comedy. A couple of songs are a bit painful but most of the tracks are highly enjoyable, especially those featuring the alien plant.
So Moranis stars as Seymour, a nerdy type who buys a strange looking plant that suddenly materialised at Chang's Exotic Plant shop during a total eclipse of the sun. Unfortunately the plant comes from space and it needs to feed on human blood and victims. Named Audrey II, Seymour's plant is the actual star of the film! The animatronic effects for the alien plant are VERY impressive and it's voiced by a larger than life Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops.
You can't help but wonder just how much of an influence Richard O'Brien's Rocky Horror Show was on the original stage musical. So it seems surprising that the chosen director Frank Oz mentions in a DVD featurette that he doesn't recall any other stage to screen adaptations of musicals starring original cast members. Considering his Muppets background, Frank Oz was actually a pretty good choice for director. The Seymour II animatronic plant certainly steals the film despite impressive performances from Moranis and co.
What is rather disappointing is that the ending of Oz's adaption was changed to make it more upbeat after criticism from test screenings (I hate test screenings). Audrey and Seymour both survive in this version but the alternative ending still doesn't affect the film too badly. Frank Oz's film is a lot of fun and even if folks don't like the musical score, the comedy elements, cameos and plant effects make the film worth checking out at the very least.
This region two disc's anamorphic picture quality and 5.1 sound is decent enough but what makes the disc worth picking up are these generous extras:
- Audio commentary with Frank Oz
- An isolated music score
- 9 mins of deleted scenes and (mostly) out-takes
- 23 minute behind-the-scenes featurette which also interviews Roger Corman
- Trailers, TV spots and bios
An impressive package of extras for an enjoyable and unusual comedy horror musical.