Film / Little Shop of Horrors

"Feed me, Seymour!"

Little Shop of Horrors is a 1986 film adaptation of the musical of the same name, which was in turn loosely adapted from the original 1960 film, itself loosely based on the book Green Thoughts. It starred Rick Moranis in his last singing role, which in turn inspired a revival of the musical. It is Frank Oz's first film as a solo director (he'd co-directed his previous films with Jim Henson) and his first outside of the Muppet label, and would start his line of subsequent comedy films.

The film follows the stage version fairly closely, except for a Focus Group Ending in which Audrey II is defeated and Seymour and Audrey survive to live happily ever after, filmed after the original play's Downer Ending (where the plant wins and Audrey and Seymour are eaten) did horribly with test audiences. On October 9, 2012, the director's cut was released, featuring the original, darker ending which is closer to that of the musical and digitally remastered.

The film provides examples ofnote :

  • Adaptational Heroism: While Seymour is mostly the same character he was in the stage version, he is given a much more sympathetic light in the film version by having most of his Moral Event Horizon moments cut down or downplayed.
  • Adaptation Distillation through Pragmatic Adaptation: The subplot about Mr. Mushnik adopting Seymour is dropped, along with a few incidental songs, to make a tight 90-minute narrative. Also worth noting, the scene with Bill Murray as a masochistic dental patient did not appear in the stage version. It derives from a famous scene in the 1960 movie which originally featured Jack Nicholson in this role. Additonally, the Dragnet-parodying cops Joe Fink and Frank Stoolie of the original film are more or less entirely dropped from both musical versions, although they are briefly seen conversing with Audrey before the film's "Suddenly, Seymour" scene.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: Of a musical sort. The soundtrack featured the extended versions of "Meen Green Mother From Outer Space" and "The Meek Shall Inherit" and the completely excised "Don't Feed the Plant", causing confusion for people who only saw the original ending. Oddly, "Subsequently" was not on the soundtrack.
  • Adorkable: Seymour
  • Adult Fear: It's hardly a coincidence that "Skid Row", a song about poverty and working-class depression, features a shot of Seymour slowly backing away in horror from a bunch of homeless alcoholics climbing a fence to get at him.
  • Advertised Extra: The cover for the director's cut features radio announcer Wink Wilkinson besides Audrey and Orin.
  • An Aesop: Of the "Don't Do A Deal with the Devil" variety. That is, "Don't Feed The Plants".
  • Answer Cut: "What kind of professional rides a motorcycle and wears a black leather jacket?" Cue Orin Scrivello, DDS.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Seymour is offered a chance to sell Audrey II cuttings, the three things that echo through his thoughts are every household in America having one, Audrey II's everywhere, and it being bigger than Hula Hoops.
    • Subverted in that the "bigger than Hula Hoops" line is an affirmation of the "Audrey II's everywhere" line, since Hula Hoops became quite popular in the late 50s early 60s.
  • Apocalypse How: The Audrey II invasion as depicted in the original ending could potentially range anywhere from Class 0 to Class 5.
  • Asshole Victim: Orin, although it doesn't help Seymour's conscience. It's sort of an Invoked Trope because Seymour needs someone with no redeeming qualities to kill, before he starts Sliding Down The Slippery Slope.
  • The Atoner: It could be viewed that Seymour deciding to fight Audrey II to stop it's plan in both versions of the film could be seen as this.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In the original ending, Audrey II and one of his clones are huge and rampage throughout the city.
  • Award Bait Song: "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" is not present in the stage version, although it has been added in some revivals. It was added to the screenplay so the film could receive an Oscar nomination for "Best Original Song." It lost, sadly. (It should be noted that "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" is definitely not your typical Award Bait Song. It was based on a song for the original stage version, "Bad", that got dropped.)
  • Ax-Crazy: Orin Scrivello.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the Director's Cut.
  • Badass Boast: Sung by Audrey II in the original ending just as he eats Seymour:
    Audrey II: And I... AM... BAD!
  • Berserk Button: Don't hurt Audrey in front of Seymour.
    Seymour: (singing) You need blood and he's got more than enough!
  • Better Living Through Evil: Audrey II uses this method to convince Seymour to feed it Orin and Mushnik by bringing up the fact that it could make Seymour rich. It eventually works once Seymour realizes what he could buy with the insane amount of money Audrey II is capable of bringing in.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Seymour and Audrey have one at the end of "Suddenly, Seymour".
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Focus Group Ending: Seymour has succeeded in defeating Audrey II and saving Audrey, allowing her and him to run off to the suburbs but they have to live with what Seymour did to get there, and another baby Twoey is in their garden . . .
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: You can tell when the Focus Group Ending kicks in when the dress becomes a lot less blood stained.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Audrey II steals Seymour's tiny pistol during "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" and proceeds to fire about twelve shots at him.
    • The original ending features Seymour firing a few extra shots before the gun is taken.
  • Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: Orin's last victim-er, patient, winds up in something out one of the Saw movies.
  • Bullet Dancing: Audrey II forces Seymour to do this during the climax.
  • Camp Gay: Bill Murray as the masochistic patient shows some inclinations.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Audrey II and Orin.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Seymour has one in the extended "Meek Shall Inherit" sequence, where he sees Mushnik's painting drip with blood and himself turned into a plant monster.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: The little Audrey II in both versions. However, in the Director's Cut, it's far more nasty in context.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: From the moment Audrey II drops the benevolent act, he's this.
    Audrey II: Tough titty.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Seymour wasn't a bad person, and he was actually offering his own blood to Audrey II to feed it. But when Twoey opened his trap and said he wanted more . . .
  • Cow Tools: Orin's medieval-looking dental appliances.
    Seymour: It's rusty!
    Orin: It's an antique.
  • Curse Cut Short: "OH SHI—" It should be noted, though, that elsewhere Audrey II is allowed to curse quite freely.
  • Cut-and-Paste Suburb: "Somewhere That's Green"
  • Dark Reprise: The "Somewhere That's Green" reprise, where the somewhere in question is inside Audrey II. When Seymour feeds her body to the plant, there's a swelling instrumental version of "Skid Row".
  • Death by Adaptation: Audrey II in the Focus Group Ending.
    • Mr. Mushnik and Audrey, as they did not die in the original 1960 film.
  • Defeat by Modesty: In both versions of the film, Audrey II thwarts Seymour's attempt to axe it by pantsing him, prompting Seymour to drop the axe and duck behind a counter.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Completely inverted with the Focus Group Ending.
  • Died Laughing: Orin, courtesy of laughing gas.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Focus Group Ending closes "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" (wherein Audrey II reveals himself in all his unstoppable glory) with Seymour electrocuting him. Justified possibly as while getting a taste of Audrey's blood when he bit her may have helped make him mobile, it didn't make him invincible.
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: In the "Somewhere That's Green" Imagine Spot.
  • Dramatic Irony: After the flower shop's first successful day of business, Mushnik tells the leaving customers to come again to see the Audrey II as it was going to get bigger and more amazing. He didn't know how right he was.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the original film, after feeding Audrey to the plant, Seymour goes up to the roof to shoot himself in the head. Then Paul Dooley shows up and Seymour learns what Audrey II has planned.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The closing shot reveals a certain strange and interesting plant outside Seymour and Audrey's garden, and then it smiles...
  • Enfante Terrible: According to Orin's Villain Song he was one of these:
    Orin: (singing) When I was younger, just a bad little kid, my momma noticed funny things I did, like shooting puppies with a BB gun, I'd poison guppies and when I was done, I'd find a pussy cat and bash it's head.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Orin's song "Dentist!" is all about this.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Orin became a Depraved Dentist on his late mother's advice, and has a shrine dedicated to her in an office cabinet.
  • Evil Laugh: Audrey II let out lots of these through the film.
  • Expy: Steve Martin's role in this film has been compared to his feature film debut as Dr Maxwell Edison in 1978's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Bill Murray's role as Arthur Denton is an Expy of Wilbur Force, the Jack Nicholson character from the 1960 movie.
  • Fake Shemp: One of the Greek Chorus Girls wasn't available to shoot the Focus Group Ending, thus the camera abruptly panning down after the other two come into frame.
  • Focus Group Ending: The stage adaptation's Downer Ending with our heroes being eaten and multiple Audrey IIs taking over the world was shot, but focus groups decided to change this in favor of the less confronting The End... Or Is It? ending. It had the unfortunate side-effect of Paul Dooley being replaced by Jim Belushi.
  • Foreshadowing: Seymour names the plant Audrey II! Isn't that cute? She tells Seymour to give her body to the plant after she dies. That way, when he feeds it, he'll be feeding Audrey, too.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Twice in the original ending:
    Greek Chorus: And what they proceeded to do is eat Cleveland, and Des Moines, and Peoria, and New York.... and where ''you'' live!
    • Then Audrey II at the end bursts through the screen to attack the audience.
  • Gender Equals Breed: In the "Somewhere That's Green" dream sequence, which was one of the inspirations for the trope, Seymour and Audrey's kids are identical to their mother and father.
  • Groin Attack
    I got killer buds, a power stem, nasty pods, and I'm using them!
    So better move 'em out, Nature calls! You got the point?
    I'm gonna bust your balls!
  • Heel Realization: Orin seems to experience one as he lays dying. When told he's being murdered because of "What you did to her", he first asks, confused, "Her who?" After a moment to dwell, he remarks in a sad voice, "Oh.... Her" before his breathing stops.
  • High Voltage Death: Audrey II in the Focus Group Ending.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: Oh yeah. So many gems in these. Especially Steve Martin at about 1:17.
    Vincent Gardenia: So work, Seymour! Nurse this plant back to death! To death...
    Ellen Greene: Oh, Seymour, we gotta ge–I forgot my line!
    Rick Moranis: (Beat) MY LEGS!!
    Ellen Greene: The vine is coming *into* my dress?
  • Homage Shot: In the Director's Cut, "Don't Feed the Plants" begins with the chorus singing in front of an American flag, evoking Patton.
  • Humiliation Conga: The uncut version of "Mean Green Mother" has the plant gloating about how he has destroyed Seymour's life and will soon do the same to people all over the world, easily thwarting his attempts to kill him, robbing him of his last dignity by stealing his pants, destroying his home by pulling it down over him, and eventually eating him up.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • "Goddamn sicko."
    • Audrey tells Seymous he suffers from low self-esteem, the same thing the urchins say Audrey suffers from.
  • "I Am" Song: "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space".
  • Imagine Spot: "Somewhere That's Green".
  • Ironic Echo:
    • In the original ending, Audrey's "Somewhere That's Green", in which she imagines herself as being part of the plant that Seymour takes care of.
    • The same scene also has the melody of "Suddenly Seymour", a song about Seymour inviting Audrey to come clean with him because he won't judge her. That's exactly what happens, only their roles are reversed.
    • "Skid Row" tells us people who live in Skid Row are doomed to die there because of rampant poverty and the exploitation of he working poor. At the end, Seymour is doomed to die there because of what he did to become rich and successful.
  • The Juggernaut: The Audrey II's are so powerful, not even the military can stop them. Subverted in the Focus Group Ending.
  • Kaiju: In the original, unreleased ending, swarms of 50-foot plant-monsters rampage throughout New York in what may have been a Shout-Out to Godzilla. (And King Kong.)
  • Karma Houdini: Seymour killed two people (he let Orin die despite making it clear that he could have helped him and he backed Mushnik into the plant) and considered going even further (he signed the contracts in "The Meek Shall Inherit", implicitly agreeing to kill others in the future. This is made clearer in the play where the song is extended, but the actions remain the same in the film.) but he gets away with absolutely no punishment whatsoever-Audrey likely never even learns that he is a murderer. The only redeeming quality is that his victims were assholes and Seymour was planning to let Audrey II starve, take the money and move away. Audrey II is a Karma Houdini in the original ending as well, but that is treated as a Downer Ending rather than a Happily Ever After, so that would be a case of They Plotted a Perfectly Good Waste.
  • Karmic Death: Audrey II.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Seymour has already been having qualms about feeding people to plants, and only trying a meat substitute near the climax, but what causes him to turn against Twoey? When Audrey II tries to eat the original Audrey.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Audrey II.
  • Large Ham: Almost everyone, but Levi Stubbs in particular sounds like he's having an absolute blast.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In the original film, Seymour's Despair Event Horizon has him feeding himself to Audrey Jr. He and his victims appear as "roses" when the buds bloom.
  • Lighter and Softer: See Darker and Edgier and Dark Reprise in the play version. It manages to contain all these aspects in its songs, but somehow makes it lighthearted simply by changing the ending and some of the songs.
  • Match Cut: At the end of "Dentist!", one of Orin's patients is shown spitting water. The scene cuts and water is shown splashing into a puddle, which turns out to be Seymour dumping a bucket.
  • May–December Romance: Audrey apparently considers herself and Seymour to be this, calling herself "his December bride." Either she's being hyperbolic about their age gap or she looks very good for her age.
  • Meaningful Name: Arthur Denton loves getting painful dental work done...
  • Mouth Cam: During "Dentist".
  • Movie Bonus Song: "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space", and arguably "Some Fun Now" (which is a rewrite of the musical's "Ya Never Know").
  • Morality Pet: Audrey for Seymour and Mushnik. Mushnik is genuinely concerned that she's dating a monster, and Seymour thinks of wanting to make her happy.
  • Musicalis Interruptus
  • Near Villain Victory: The theatrical version turns Audrey II's plan into this.
  • Nightmare Sequence: "The Meek Shall Inherit" was going to be this, but the scene was cut down. You can still hear the rest of it on the soundtrack.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Seymour gets a lot of these moments, but the one that takes the cake is when Seymour willingly feeds Audrey to the Audrey II. In the scene just before, the plant had to brace itself (and expend a great deal of effort) just to move its pot a few feet to reach the pay phone. After eating Audrey, it becomes fully mobile and gains enough strength to destroy the shop and devour Seymour.
    • Audrey II also rubs it in Seymour's face that he helped bring his plan to fruition.
      Seymour: We're not talking about one hungry plant here, we talking about world conquest!
      Audrey II: (practically giggling) And I wanna thank YOU!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Orin is basically Elvis Presley as a sadistic dentist.
  • Not Brainwashed: Audrey in the Focus Group Ending reveals that she loved Seymour all along, for the man he was, and not because of the plant or the money.
  • Oh Crap!: All of the main characters get this one at some point.
  • Paparazzi: Lots of these show up at the shop shortly after the plant eats Mushnik. Seymour doesn't handle them very well.
  • Parrot Exposition: In the theatrical version, Seymour in an insert shot gasps and says, "Outer space?!" after Audrey II has just sung he's from outer space, and it's quite obvious from the total eclipse scene that Audrey II just beamed himself from someone out there. The insert is removed in the Director's Cut.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Mushnik keeps telling Audrey that she should stop going out with Orin after she comes to work with a black eye.
    • In the Director's Cut, Audrey II allows Seymour to feed Audrey to it in a dignified, almost ritualistic way, in sort of a plant-variation of a Viking Funeral.
  • Plant Aliens:
    "Get this straight! I'm just a mean, green mother from outer space and I'm bad!"
  • Phrase Catcher: "What a strange and interesting plant..."
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Frank Oz explained the Focus Group Ending as being a consequence of adapting the stage play to a different medium:
    "I learned a lesson: in a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don't come out for a bow, they're dead. They're gone and so the audience lost the people they loved, as opposed to the theater audience where they knew the two people who played Audrey and Seymour were still alive. They loved those people, and they hated us for it."
  • Public Medium Ignorance: Thanks to this movie, people have mistakenly rented or downloaded Corman's 1960 movie, thinking it was this version.
  • Punny Name: Mrs. Shiva always needs funeral lilies. (Even in the 1986 film, though we never meet her there.)
  • Recut: The Blu-ray reissue includes a version of the movie with the original Kill 'em All ending fully restored.
  • Revolvers Are For Amateurs: Seymour, a man clearly not predisposed to violence, carries a revolver when he goes to kill Orin. He's so lacking in confidence with the firearm that he never actually uses it, Orin instead accidentally killing himself.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Played for Laughs—Orin has a closet shrine to his dearly departed mom.
  • Shout-Out: To Ray Harryhausen. The theater Audrey II destroys is showing Jason and the Argonauts.
  • Silence Is Golden:
    • The scene where Seymour first notices Audrey II craving his blood lacks all the dialogue used in the stage version, which probably would have sounded like Narrating the Obvious by movie standards.
    • Also from the Director's Cut, when Seymour gets eaten, you can see the back-up pods laughing maniacally and Seymour screaming, but all you hear is the background music.
  • Skip the Anesthetic: Orin has laughing gas/nitrous oxide, but it's for him, not his patients.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The Director's Cut is rather guilty of this during the ending sequence, when the Audrey IIs' attack on New York - complete with some rather horrifying imagery of buildings being smashed and people fleeing for their lives - is accompanied by the funky song, "Don't Feed the Plants".
    • "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" is a variation. Throughout the song, it keeps switching from sinister and imposing to upbeat and gospel-esque.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the Focus Group Ending, Audrey and Seymour. Note that Audrey has a recursive case of this, as she didn't die in the original film that the musical itself was based on.
  • Squick: Invoked by Seymore when Audrey II informs him the blood must be human, and must be fresh.
    Seymour: Twooey, that's disgusting.
  • Stepford Smiler: One of the mini Audrey II's does this when Seymour realizes Audrey II's plan.
  • Stepford Suburbia: In the film, Seymour and Audrey escape Skid Row. But one of the mini-Audrey IIs comes with them!
  • Stylistic Suck: Sort of. There is a deliberate artificiality to the sets and costumes, and the story is clearly not meant to be taken seriously. According to Frank Oz, Howard Ashman's exact words to him were "This is supposed to be stupid. My tongue was firmly in my cheek when I wrote it!"
  • Take Over the World:
    "Every household in America, that's what you had in mind all along, isn't it?"note 
  • This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: "Wait for me, Audrey—this is between me and the vegetable!"
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Audrey II's Famous Last Words: "Oh shit !!".
  • Too Dumb to Live: Audrey in the "Suppertime" reprise. Doubles as Adaptational Dumbass, as she went into the shop looking for Seymour in the play and was too uneasy to sleep.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: Arthur Denton.
  • Trash the Set: In the final scene, Audrey II smashes and destroys practically every significant prop in the flower store individually before collapsing the whole roof. The sign, the phone, the cash register, the display rack, everything Mushnik built is gone.
  • Triumphant Reprise: At the end of the Focus Group Ending when Seymour and Audrey get out of Skid Row and move into Audrey's dream home, a happy, light reprisal of "Somewhere That's Green is playing.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: The Greek Chorus have a better dresser than Michelle Obama.
  • Villain Song: "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space"
    • Also "Dentist!", "Feed Me (Git it!)", and "Suppertime". This movie has tons of awesome villain songs.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Invoked, when Seymour is surprised that Audrey II mumbled "Feed me", and is shocked when Audrey II gets up, pushes him and demands, "Feed me, Krelborne, feed me now!" The look on Seymour's face is priceless.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Seymour fails this in a big way. And "The Meek Shall Inherit" stresses this, when he sings that "You've got no alternative, Seymore old boy, though it means you'll be broke again and unemployed, it's the only solution it can't be avoided: the vegetable must be destroyed", but then changes his mind when he thinks about Audrey.
  • Would Harm A Child: The poor teenage patient of Dr. Orin can attest to that, she certainly isn't crying about the fugly ortho wear.
  • You Can Talk?: Seymour and Audrey have this exact reaction.
    Audrey II: Does this look inanimate to you, punk?
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Audrey II says this several times during "Big Green Mother From Outer Space".
    "You don't know what you're dealing with, No you never did."
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: At the end of "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" in the original version, Audrey II eats Seymour. He doesn't even need Seymour's help to distribute his species around the world as 'a goddamn vegetable is public domain'.