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  • Writer's pictureAllan Major

The Little Shop Of Horrors 1986 Reviewed

Featured Image For The Little Shop Of Horrors 1986 Reviewed.   Poster for Little Shop of Horrors featuring a giant plant attacking the characters.
Little Shop of Horrors brings terror to the city with a carnivorous plant. This musical horror comedy tells the tale of an ordinary shop turned into a nightmare by an insatiable monster.

The first time I saw "Little Shop of Horrors" in 1986, I was struck by the film’s ability to weave the grim with the garish, the macabre with the musical. The screen buzzed with an electric blend of dark humor and tuneful exuberance that seemed almost an alchemical impossibility. Frank Oz, the magician behind the camera, concocted a spectacle so tantalizing that it demands to be fed into the minds of those who dare to watch it. This movie, based on the off-Broadway hit, unfolds in the decaying recesses of Skid Row, where dreams wither as fast as they’re dreamt. The unlikely hero, Seymour Krelborn, a shop assistant played by the incomparable Rick Moranis, discovers an unusual plant that promises to change his fate. The plant, named Audrey II, after his co-worker Audrey, voiced by Levi Stubbs of the Four Tops, hungers for more than just sunlight and water; it craves human blood. The musical comedy, tinged with horror, becomes a nightmarish delight, captivating with its campy charm and toe-tapping musical numbers.

Key Takeaways After Watching This Film

  • Genre-Blending Mastery:

  • The film expertly combines elements of musical comedy and horror, offering a unique cinematic experience that appeals to fans of both genres.

  • Character Development:

  • Seymour Krelborn: Portrayed by Rick Moranis, Seymour is a meek and hopeful shop assistant whose discovery of an unusual plant sets the story in motion.

  • Audrey: Played by Ellen Greene, Audrey is Seymour's kind-hearted co-worker and love interest, trapped in an abusive relationship but dreaming of a better life.

  • Audrey II: Voiced by Levi Stubbs, Audrey II is an alien, carnivorous plant with a growing appetite for human blood, becoming a central antagonist.

  • Orin Scrivello: Steve Martin’s character, a sadistic dentist who enjoys inflicting pain, adding a layer of dark comedy to the film.

  • Supporting Cast: Notable performances from Bill Murray as a masochistic dental patient, John Candy as radio DJ Wink Wilkinson, and cameos from Christopher Guest and Jim Belushi.

  • Memorable Performances:

  • Rick Moranis: Delivers a blend of vulnerability and determination as Seymour.

  • Ellen Greene: Brings warmth and depth to Audrey, especially in her musical numbers.

  • Steve Martin: Provides a standout, energetic performance as the sadistic dentist.

  • Levi Stubbs: Offers a menacing yet charismatic voice performance as Audrey II.

  • Tisha Campbell, Michelle Weeks, and Tichina Arnold: Serve as the Greek chorus, adding a soulful and dynamic element to the film.

A woman afraid while watching The Little Shop of Horrors from 1986.
The monstrous plant in Little Shop of Horrors leaves her in terrified awe.

Audrey II is no ordinary plant. It’s an alien plant, a carnivorous being that grows more insatiable with each feeding. As Seymour, a meek and timid botanist, feeds his new plant, the flower shop where he works begins to thrive. The shop, owned by Vincent Gardenia's Mr. Mushnik, becomes a beacon of hope in the dreary landscape of Skid Row. Ellen Greene’s Audrey, a delicate yet resilient soul stuck in an abusive relationship with her sadistic dentist boyfriend Orin Scrivello, played with manic glee by Steve Martin, dreams of a better life. She and Seymour share a tender yet tragic bond, brought to life in the heart-wrenching ballad "Suddenly Seymour," where their voices merge in a hopeful yet foreboding duet.

Frank Oz’s direction brings an incredible sense of rhythm and whimsy to the film. His background in puppetry and his tenure with The Muppets are evident in the seamless way Audrey II comes to life, each leaf and tendril moving with a malevolent purpose. The musical numbers, scored by the brilliant Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, pulsate with energy and wit. Songs like "Dentist!" and "Feed Me (Git It)" are both catchy and narratively essential, driving the plot forward while providing a grotesque pleasure.

Steve Martin’s Orin is a grotesque caricature, a sadistic dentist who revels in the pain of his patients. His performance is both hilarious and horrifying, embodying the film’s delicate balance of comedy and horror. Bill Murray’s cameo as a masochistic dental patient is another high point, his interactions with Martin’s Orin a masterclass in dark comedy. These scenes are both a satire of and homage to the 1960 Roger Corman film upon which this movie musical is based.

The rest of the cast, including John Candy as the wacky radio DJ Wink Wilkinson, Christopher Guest as the uptight customer in the flower shop, and the soulful trio of Tisha Campbell, Michelle Weeks, and Tichina Arnold as the Greek chorus of street urchins, infuse the film with vibrancy and depth. Their performances, along with the film’s vibrant set pieces and clever dialogue, create a tapestry of urban decay and desperate dreams.

A man afraid while watching The Little Shop of Horrors from 1986.
The bizarre horror of Little Shop of Horrors holds him captive in fear.

A Quirky Cool Musical Horror Flick

As Audrey II’s appetite grows, so does the moral dilemma faced by Seymour. He is torn between his love for Audrey and his Faustian bargain with the plant. The film’s original ending, which was later altered, presented a darker conclusion where Audrey II triumphs, a reflection on the dangers of unchecked ambition and the consequences of making deals with the devil. This alternate ending, available in the director’s cut, offers a bleaker yet thematically consistent resolution to the tale.

"Little Shop of Horrors" is a film that refuses to be pigeonholed. It is a musical, a comedy, a horror flick, and a satire all at once. The film version, directed by Frank Oz, stands as a testament to the power of genre-blending and the timeless appeal of a well-told story. The musical numbers are infectious, the performances unforgettable, and the underlying message—about the perils of greed and the cost of dreams—resonates as deeply today as it did in 1986.

Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene shine as the star-crossed lovers, their chemistry palpable and their voices harmonizing in perfect, tragic beauty. The film’s campy aesthetic, reminiscent of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," adds an extra layer of charm, making it a favorite film for those who appreciate its unique blend of horror and humor. The cameos by the likes of Jim Belushi and Christopher Guest add to its cult appeal, each appearance a delightful surprise.

The film’s legacy is also tied to its Broadway origins and its connections to other works by Ashman and Menken, such as "The Little Mermaid." The score, with its rock-and-roll flair and soulful melodies, is a character in its own right, guiding the narrative with a deft hand. Levi Stubbs’ voice as Audrey II is both menacing and magnetic, each song a siren call to the dark side.

In conclusion, "Little Shop of Horrors" is a masterful blend of genres that continues to captivate audiences with its wit, charm, and underlying darkness. The film adaptation, brought to life by Frank Oz’s visionary direction and the stellar performances of its cast, remains a testament to the enduring power of story and song. It is a film that, much like Audrey II, demands to be fed—viewed, enjoyed, and remembered. Whether you’re a fan of musicals, horror, or simply great cinema, "Little Shop of Horrors" offers something for everyone, a cinematic feast that leaves you both sated and hungry for more.

And that is The Little Shop Of Horrors 1986 Reviewed. A Classic Horror Comedy Musical you need to watch again. 

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If You Liked The Little Shop Of Horrors You Might Also Like These Films

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975):

  • Description: This cult classic musical horror-comedy tells the story of a newly engaged couple who get stranded and seek refuge in a mysterious castle. There, they meet Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a mad scientist and transvestite, who unveils his latest creation, a man named Rocky. Filled with outrageous characters, catchy musical numbers, and a celebration of camp, this film is a beloved staple of midnight movie screenings and audience participation.

  • Beetlejuice (1988):

  • Description: Directed by Tim Burton, this dark comedy-fantasy film follows a recently deceased couple who become ghosts trapped in their former home. When a new family moves in, they enlist the help of a mischievous and eccentric bio-exorcist named Beetlejuice to scare the new inhabitants away. Known for its quirky humor, imaginative visuals, and Michael Keaton's unforgettable performance as Beetlejuice, this film is a delightful mix of the macabre and the hilarious.

  • Gremlins (1984):

  • Description: This horror-comedy directed by Joe Dante revolves around a young man who receives a strange creature called a Mogwai as a pet. When he fails to follow the three important rules—don't expose it to bright light, don't get it wet, and never feed it after midnight—the Mogwai spawns mischievous and destructive gremlins. The film combines dark humor, memorable characters, and chaotic antics, making it a holiday classic with a sinister twist.

  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960):

  • Description: The original black-and-white film directed by Roger Corman is the inspiration for the 1986 musical. It tells the story of a clumsy young man who cultivates a plant that feeds on human flesh and blood. Though not a musical, this version is known for its low-budget charm, dark humor, and the early appearance of Jack Nicholson in a small role as a masochistic dental patient. Fans of the musical will appreciate the roots of the story in this quirky and entertaining film.

  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007):

  • Description: Directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter, this film adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical tells the tale of Benjamin Barker, alias Sweeney Todd, who returns to London seeking revenge on the corrupt judge who ruined his life. Teaming up with Mrs. Lovett, a pie shop owner, Todd opens a barbershop where he slits the throats of his customers, who are then baked into pies. This film combines gothic horror, dark humor, and hauntingly beautiful music, offering a grim yet compelling story of vengeance and madness.

The Little Shop Of Horrors 1986 Reviewed FAQs

Q: What is "The Little Shop Of Horrors" about?

A: "The Little Shop Of Horrors" is a story about Seymour Krelborn, a meek shop assistant at a flower shop in Skid Row, who discovers an unusual and mysterious plant he names Audrey II after his co-worker and crush, Audrey. The plant, however, turns out to be a man-eating entity that brings both terror and musical joy to the flower shop as it grows and demands human blood to survive. As Audrey II's appetite increases, Seymour faces moral dilemmas and the plant's true nature is revealed, leading to a series of darkly comedic and dramatic events.

Q: Who are some of the main characters in the movie?

A: Some of the main characters in the movie include:

  • Seymour Krelborn: Played by Rick Moranis, he is the shop assistant who discovers Audrey II.

  • Audrey: Portrayed by Ellen Greene, she is Seymour's co-worker and love interest.

  • Mr. Mushnik: Played by Vincent Gardenia, he is the owner of the flower shop.

  • Orin Scrivello: A sadistic dentist played by Steve Martin.

  • Audrey II: Voiced by Levi Stubbs, the man-eating plant.

  • Director Frank Oz: He directed the film, bringing his background in puppetry to life with Audrey II.

Q: How does the film version differ from the original stage musical?

A: The film version of "The Little Shop Of Horrors" features several differences from the original stage musical, including additional scenes and musical numbers. Notably, the film has a different ending from the original stage musical. While the stage version ends on a darker note with Audrey II taking over, the initial theatrical release of the film opted for a more hopeful ending. However, the director's cut of the film includes the original, darker ending that aligns more closely with the stage musical's conclusion. The film also benefits from the use of special effects and puppetry to bring Audrey II to life in a way that wasn’t possible on stage.

Q: What is the significance of the plant Audrey 2 in the story?

A: Audrey II, the man-eating plant, serves as a symbol of power, greed, and the darker aspects of human nature. As the plant grows and demands to be fed, it represents the corrupting influence of unchecked ambition and the lengths to which people will go to achieve success. Audrey II's presence in the story forces the characters, especially Seymour, to confront their moral boundaries and the consequences of their actions, making it a central and significant element of the film's narrative.

Q: Who are some of the notable actors in the movie, aside from the main characters?

A: Aside from the main characters, the movie features memorable performances from several notable actors:

  • Steve Martin: Plays the sadistic dentist Orin Scrivello, delivering a standout comedic performance.

  • Bill Murray: Appears as Arthur Denton, a masochistic dental patient who enjoys pain, providing one of the film's most humorous moments.

  • John Candy: Has a cameo as Wink Wilkinson, a quirky radio show host.

  • Christopher Guest: Plays the uptight first customer in the flower shop.

  • Jim Belushi: Appears in the theatrical ending as Patrick Martin, a marketing executive.

Q: What is the connection between Tisha Campbell, Michelle Weeks, and the film?

A: Tisha Campbell and Michelle Weeks, along with Tichina Arnold, play the roles of Crystal, Ronette, and Chiffon, respectively. These characters serve as a Greek chorus, providing musical commentary throughout the film. They contribute to the dynamic and energy of the musical numbers, adding to the film's vibrant atmosphere with their soulful singing and spirited performances.

Q: What famous song from the movie involves going to the dentist?

A: The song "Dentist!" is performed by Steve Martin as Orin Scrivello, the sadistic dentist. This comedic number is a highlight of "The Little Shop Of Horrors," showcasing Martin's talent for blending humor with a dark edge. The song humorously details Orin's delight in inflicting pain on his patients, making it one of the most memorable and entertaining scenes in the film.


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