Director:  Frank Oz

Starring:  Rick Moranis, Ellen Greene, Steve Martin, Bill Murray

Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis)Legend has it that the1960 film version of Little Shop of Horrors was shot in a couple of days, on borrowed sets by opportunist filmmaker Roger Corman. The story, about Seymour Krelborn, a nerdy Skid Row florist's assistant (Moranis) who nurtures a giant carniverous plant, and a crush on a cute girl (Greene) who's being abused by her sadistic dentist boyfriend (Martin), owes more than a little to John Collier's short story Green Thoughts. The film, shot for tuppence, with actors (including Jack Nicholson) who were hired for a week, was quick to turn a profit, and quickly gained a strong cult following. In the early 80s the film was adapted into an off-Broadway musical by producer David Geffen. The stage version had lyrics by Howard Ashman (who also wrote the film version's screenplay) and music by Alan Menken (the team who later went on to create the songs for Disney hits like Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid).

The success of the stage musical, in both New York and in London, led to a film version in 1986, originally conceived as a project for Martin Scorsese, but eventually assigned to Dark Crystal director Frank Oz (who could bring his many years' experience working with the Muppets to working with the anamatronic plant). The film's cast included Ellen Greene as Audrey, the actress who had effectively made the role her own in the off-Broadway and London West End versions.  

The anamorphic 1.78:1 transfer on the UK disc is beautiful, with colours that range from delicate Eastmancolour tones to eye-popping, Technicolor-style hues. The film has great contrast, with solid black levels, and plenty of detail. The source materials appear to be in terrific shape.

Audrey (Ellen Greene) and Seymour (Rick Moranis)The film’s audio mix (in Dolby Digital, at 448kbps) is remarkably elaborate for its era, and generally very satisfying. The disc also contains an isolated music and lyrics track (in 2.0 at 192kbps). 

The behind the scenes documentary on the disc reveals that the songs were pre-recorded, and played back on-set, where the actors would mime along. The soundtrack CD was one of the first to be digitally-recorded (and proudly bore a sticker to that effect, back in the days when it was perceived as a big selling point), so perhaps this extended to the film's mix, too.  

Little Shop of Horrors was originally released on DVD in the US in January 1998. The first pressing of the Region 1 disc is highly prized by collectors and fans. One of the bonus features was the film’s original ending (albeit in rough-cut, black and white format), in which Audrey II, Seymour Krelborn's carnivorous plant grows to enormous size and goes on the rampage in New York. Fans, who had been tantalised with a few images from the sequence that had escaped into the public domain, were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to see the footage. Unfortunately it seemed that someone hadn’t completed the necessary clearances, the disc was withdrawn, and then re-released without the material, in May 2000.

A glimpse at the film's infamous alternative ending, from the Outtakes and Deleted Scenes.Unfortunately, the new UK disc is similar to the reissued US DVD. There’s still plenty of bonus material on the disc, though, including a model commentary track by director Frank Oz, a nine minute Outtakes and Deleted Scenes section (mostly goofy trims: this doesn't contain much that you’d recognise a deleted scene as such, although it does feature a great, teasing shot from the original ending). The UK disc is missing the optional director’s commentary on this section, which seems to be a rather pointless and mean-spirited omission (perhaps there was an authoring error?)

The disc (which is also coded for Regions 4 and 5) also offers a nice 1987 behind the scenes featurette (narrated by UFO star Ed Bishop, 23m), which features on-set interviews, behind the scenes footage and clips from the film (which are a stark reminder how bad the film could look on DVD, if it hadn't been carefully re-mastered). The disc also offers a pair of theatrical trailers and a couple of TV adverts. A couple of these are fashioned like 50s trailers, and are a tad more interesting than usual.
















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