These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Alternate Show Interpretation: The most recent Broadway revival, in which all of the characters are portrayed as inmates enacting the events in a madhouse.
Alternative Character Interpretation: All over the place. Toby, for one. As the role is vocally demanding, adults are often cast in the part, which makes for the question of whether Toby is a kid or a mentally disabled man. For that note, the motives of the Beadle are ambiguous, whether he's a psychopath who's as bad as the judge or just a police officer who sincerely believes the judge is a good man. Then there's the matter of whether Anthony is a romantic hero who saves Johanna from the Judge or if he's a creepy stalker (though he's definitely a major step-up from Judge Turpin).
Judge Turpin, of all people, gets one depending on whether his song "Johanna" removed or not (that being said, it is so often removed foragoodreason). This song shows that he actually tried to resist the temptation Johanna was causing and even seems to imply that she was his Morality Pet. "Johanna, Johanna, I treasured you in innocence and loved you like a daughter".
Awesome Music: The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, Epiphany, and A Little Priest, just to name a few. Well... really the entire song list (given the right cast) but bonus points go to ''Johanna Reprise''.
Ear Worm: Just try to get ANY of the songs out of your head after viewing the theater or movie version. It's bloody impossible (but delightfully so).
Fair for Its Day: The Judge's sentencing of a young boy to hanging, though he is a four-time offender. This is noticeably shortened to one previous offence in the film.
Ho Yay: In the movie, there seem to be overtones of this between Beadle Bamford and Judge Turpin. Mostly coming from Bamford's end, though it IS kinda odd that he seems to spend so much time with the judge...
Notably, in the stage musical it's made clear in the reprise in The Barber and His Wife that both Turpin and Bamford have a thing for Lucy. In the movie, however, the lyrics are changed so that only the Judge's affections are mentioned.
Toby's pat-a-cake-pat-a-cake at the end, Judge Turpin, The tooth pulling scene (in the original), the 2005 revival.
"Epiphany" is particularly horrifying. Watching Sweeney take a flying leap into the pit of insanity, combined with the song's tendency to switch between his declaring vengeance on all of humanity and mourning his wife and daughter.
The beggar woman becomes that much more horrifically tragic when you realize she's Sweeney's wife and the combination of the traumatic assault and attempted suicide have left her a shell of her former self.
Paranoia Fuel: A trip to the barber's or a pie shop both made very creepy for the Victorian audience. For the typical modern audiences, this story has made the straight razor unsettlingly best known as a weapon of murder.
On the other hand, another way to see them is as a parallel to the Todd/Lucy couple ("she was beautiful, and he was naive", particularly if you take the interpretations where Johanna is crazy into account)
Squick: To be fair, the whole thing is pretty squicky, but Judge Turpin gets a special mention for "Johanna (Mea Culpa)," where he flagellates himself to orgasm while watching his teenaged ward through a keyhole. While singing. It was cut from the original Broadway production, and, unsurprisingly, it's only occasionally reinstated. When done well, the sequence can be one of the most chilling in the show...which is about serial murder and cannibalism.
This troper stumbled on a positive ocean of squick when she thought more about why the hell Sweeney takes so long to kill the Judge. Murder foreplay. That is all.
Anthony when he bursts into Sweeney's barber shop in the midst of his shaving of Judge Turpin. What was he expecting?
One wonders why Sweeney takes Lovett's advice to be patient in plotting his revenge at heart, spending his sweet time singing along with Turpin about pretty women. What was he expecting? Although... see "Squick" above.
Mrs. Lovett, basically keeping Lucy a secret from Todd when she kept coming around her shop. Sweeney's shown no hesitation in killing anyone who's crossed him, particularly in regards to his family. What was she expecting?
Pirelli, confronting a man who's been in prison for fifteen years, and blackmailing him. What was he expecting?
The Woobie: Toby, poor kid. Johanna too, seeing what she's had to live with.
Complete Monster: Judge Turpin is a corrupt Hanging Judge in Victorian London and the man who begins Sweeney's start of darkness when, lusting after the then-younger barber's wife, Turpin has him imprisoned on a penal colony for decades of hard labor so he can seduce his wife. When she refuses, Turpin has her lured to his home under pretense of offering to free her husband- but rapes her instead, and steals her daughter as his ward. Turpin guards her jealously, having a younger sailor brutally beaten for looking at her and plans to marry her himself. When she refuses and tries to run away he sends her to an asylum where he knows she'll be mistreated. At another point, Turpin sentences a little boy to death by hanging...and then asks his sidekick, the Beadle Bamford, if the boy was even guilty of anything.
Nightmare Fuel: The rape scene. Jesus Christ, the rape scene. Some consider it to be the scariest scene in the movie.
The beggar woman's capacity for this was ramped right up for the movie.
The scene with Toby in the evil basement, when the poor kid finally learns what's in the pies — and then has to watch as the just-murdered Beadle Bamford gets dumped right down into the basement with him. And then Mrs. Lovett and Sweeney come down into the sewer looking for him because they want to murder him too.
When Sweeney finds out Lovett lied to him, he takes her off her guard by dancing with her - and throws her into the furnace. Unlike the stage play, we can see exactly what happens as she screams and thrashes while she burns up.
"Not While I'm Around" is more of a Fridge Horror tearjerker, since it all goes waaaaaay downhill from there.
The final scenes with Todd, taking the dead Lucy on his arms, and Toby slashing his throat and he cradling her while slowly dying. Todd may have ended up becoming a psychopath, but the look on his eyes is the look of a completely broken man. Can you say Stoic Woobie?
Genius Bonus - History: Pirelli boasts that he had Shaved the Pope himself, while mocking Sweeney that probably thinks it was only a Cardinal, follows by Toby showing a portrait of the Pope. Given that the story should take place in 1846, it was the same year that Pope Pius IX was elected Pope, which would explain how Pirelli might have really shaved the Italian cardinal Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti who became the Pope, giving him the edge by technicallity.
Although the written "Thanks for da Shave - The Pope" on the portrait is rather suspicious on Pirelli's part. Not to mention that we later learn Pirelli is a false identity, giving further evidence that it was all just made up.