Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis) is a nerd. He works for Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) at Mushnik’s Flower Shop in New York City’s skid row. Seymour’s co-worker is Audrey (Ellen Greene), a sweet airhead that Seymour has been secretly in love with for as long as she’s worked there. Mushnik’s flower shop isn’t doing very well. He has decided that he is going to close the shop. Audrey suggests that perhaps Mushnik could get more customers if he displays some exotic plants in the window. People would see the plants and come into the shop for a better look.
Audrey tells Mushnik that Seymour has been working in his basement room and has an unusual plant that could be displayed. Seymour retrieves the plant and shows it to Mushnik. He says he bought it from a Chinese flower vendor during a solar eclipse. He has called the plant Audrey II after his lovely co-worker. Mushnik is not impressed with the little cabbage looking plant but Seymour puts it in the window anyway. Right away people come into the shop to look at Audrey II and then buy some flowers since they are there. Soon the place is crowded with people looking at Audrey II and spending lots of money.
At the end of the day Audrey II looks a little wilted. Mushnik tells Seymour to get the plant healthy again. Seymour is beside himself trying to figure out what to do to get Audrey II perky. Seymour cuts his finger on a rose thorn and it begins to bleed. Audrey II starts to make sucking sounds as if it wants the blood. Seymour gives Audrey II a few drops of blood. The plant comes back to life. After a few days Audrey II has grown significantly and Seymour is anemic. Audrey II begins to talk asking to be fed.
In the meantime Audrey’s abusive boyfriend Orin Scrivello (Steve Martin) has been mistreating Audrey. Audrey II suggests that Seymour feed him Orin. Seymour is at first aghast but Orin’s behavior toward Audrey changes his mind. Before Seymour can kill Orin he asphyxiates on laughing gas. Seymour chops him up and feeds him to Audrey II.
Mr. Mushnik sees Seymour chopping up Orin. He blackmails Seymour. He offers to give Seymour money to get out of town but leave the plant. Mushnik gets a little too close to Audrey II and ends up down the hatch. By now Audrey II has set its sights on Audrey and Seymour is way out of his league.
“Little Shop of Horrors” was released in 1986 and was directed by Frank Oz. It is a member of the very small sub-genre of “monster movie musical”. The movie is a highly entertaining invasion from outer space movie. In this case, as in similar films like “The Thing from Another World” 1951, “The Day of the Triffids” 1951 and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” 1956 Audrey II is an alien plant.
The movie is based on the stage play that premiered off Broadway in 1982. The music was by Alan Menken. There are two versions of the film. The theatrical release has a little happier ending. The director’s cut does not have a happier ending but it is a lot more fun. The names of the three girls in the Greek Chorus are Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon. The characters are named after popular female singing groups from the fifties and sixties, The Chrystals, The Ronettes, and The Chiffons.
Ellen Greene reprises her role as Audrey from the stage play. As Audrey she is the most endearing and charming bubble head I’ve ever seen. Rick Moranis is Seymour and Vincent Gardenia is Mushnik. Steve Martin plays the sadistic dentist and Audrey’s sadistic boyfriend. Other stars that make an appearance are Bill Murray and John Candy. Jim Belushi plays Patrick Martin in the theatrical version only. It is the only film where Murray and Martin appear together.
Audrey II’s scenes have no blue screen. The plant is an elaborate puppet that was operated by veterans of the Jim Henson Company. Several puppets were made depending on Audrey II’s size. Audrey II went through six different growth stages. The voice of Audrey II was done by Levi Stubbs. He is best known as the baritone in the music group “The Four Tops”. As part of the film's promotion, Audrey II was occasionally interviewed, in character, by the press. On at least one occasion, the interview concluded with Audrey II eating the interviewer.
The film was also nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Visual Effects and one for Best Original Song for Audrey II's number, "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space". "Mean Green" was the first Oscar-nominated song to contain profanity in the lyrics and had to be slightly censored for the Oscars show.
The movie was a blast. I highly recommend it.