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Trivia / Little Shop of Horrors

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General trivia

After King Kong Lives bombed, Tomoyuki Tanaka didn't think people wanted to see monster movies anymore and was hesitant to make a sequel to The Return of Godzilla. Then Little Shop of Horrors came out which convinced him monster movies were not done yet. Audrey II possibly saved the Godzilla franchise. By coincidence, the script that became Godzilla vs. Biollante has Godzilla face off against a giant plant monster.

1986 movie

  • Acclaimed Flop: Although a critical success and scoring 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, the film underperformed at the box office at the time of its release.
  • Acting for Two: Besides being a puppeteer for Audrey II, Mak Wilson appeared as one of the doo-wop singers.
  • Adaptation Sequence: Book > Movie > Stage musical > Movie of musical > (Extremely) short-lived Saturday morning cartoon show -> 2020s movie musical.
  • Advertised Extra: Like Nicholson (retroactively) before them, Bill Murray and John Candy's single-scene roles were over-emphasized due to their stardom. Murray appears even more in the trailer than Vincent Gardenia, while Candy is one of the four featured actors on the Director's Cut BluRay and DVD covers.
  • Cast the Runner-Up: John Candy was offered the part of Mushnik. He asked if there were some minor roles. Oz said Wink Wilkinson, and he accepted.
  • Cut Song:
    • In the theatrical cut, most of "The Meek Shall Inherit", the "Somewhere That's Green" reprise, the end of "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space", and "Don't Feed the Plants".
    • "Closed for Renovation", "Mushnik and Son", "Now (It's Just the Gas)" and "Call Back in the Morning" were omitted entirely.
    • A song written especially to be sung by the Underlings during the credits, "Crystal, Ronnette, and Chiffon," was eventually cut. The cast of the 2020s revival performed in for an online video.
  • Deleted Scene: Aside from the original ending, there's also the full "The Meek Shall Inherit" scene.
  • Development Gag: As he explains in a documentary about his life and music, composer Menken's father and many of the other men in his family are dentists — something which he also began to study for but gave up in order to pursue music instead. No doubt he and Ashman had fun writing the Depraved Dentist song!
  • DVD Commentary: Oz manages to keep one going by himself for the entire length of the film, telling stories about production.
  • Early Draft Tie-In: Topps trading cards show stills of the cut "The Meek Shall Inherit" Dream Sequence, and the original ending in which Audrey II clones destroy New York City. The former scene is also in the photonovel.
  • Executive Meddling: The original ending was faithful to the stage musical, with the classic Greek Tragedy arc: Seymour kills his enemy, kills his father-figure, kills his love, then kills himself, and then gigantic Audrey II's go on a Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever rampage and take over the world. After preview audiences lambasted this ending for being "too disturbing", Ashman wrote a happier one. While everyone admitted that they liked the original ending better, the filmmakers noted that, because film is more literal than theater, the audience didn't have the benefit of seeing the cast come back, unscathed, for the final bow, and the ending was too grim as a result.
  • Focus Group Ending: The film originally retained the Downer Ending in which Audrey and Seymour are killed and Audrey II begins its spectacular conquest of Earth to the tune of the song "Don't Feed the Plants". This went over so badly with test audiences that much of the final section of the film from Audrey II trying to eat her onward was reshot and recut to change things to a happier ending; the original finale had to be jettisoned altogether, until the Blu-ray release, which included a "Director's Cut" containing the original ending.
  • Harpo Does Something Funny: Bill Murray improvised all of his lines as Arthur Denton, the masochistic dental patient. This is why the characters he interacts with seem to be ignoring what he says - the actors literally didn't know what he was going to say. To their credit, they managed to keep a straight face (at least in the takes that were used).
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: For the longest time, although the song was included on the official soundtrack, footage of the original ending was only available in crude, soundless, B&W workprint form on the DVD extras, which led multiple people to create YouTube fan edits of what it would potentially look like completed. (After the Blu-ray release with the ACTUAL completed footage, all of those videos had to be taken down, and any new posts don't tend to last.)
  • One-Book Author: Levi Stubbs (Audrey II) had exactly one other acting job after this as the voice of Mother Brain on Captain N: The Game Master. Other than that, he pretty much stuck with his regular job as a singer for the rest of his life.
  • The Other Marty: In the original cut of the film Paul Dooley played the part of Patrick Martin. When the cast and crew returned several months later to shoot a new ending, Dooley was unavailable so James Belushi stepped into the role. Dooley received a "special thanks" credit in the film and his scene appears in the black and white workprint ending that was available on the original DVD release. The 2012 Director's Cut Blu-Ray/DVD release restores Dooley's part, and conversely it's Belushi who receives a "special thanks" credit.
  • Production Posse: In addition to director Frank Oz, some of the Muppet Performers were involved in performing Audrey II, including Brian Henson and Toby Philpott.
  • Prop Recycling: Orin's dentist tools were used as bizarre gynecological tools in Dead Ringers and then as bizarre plastic surgeon tools in Batman (1989).
  • Playing Against Type: Menken and Ashman worked on a black horror comedy, before they hit it big with their Disney animated musicals.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The film of the stage musical of the film.
  • Real-Life Relative: One of Orin's patients is played by Heather Henson, the daughter of the late Jim Henson. Her brother (and Jim's son), Brian Henson, was one of the Audrey II puppeteers.
  • Release Date Change: The film was originally intended to be a summer blockbuster, with a release date of July 2, 1986. A pair of disastrous test screenings pushed the release back until December 19, with reshoots taking place in September.
  • Role Reprise:
    • Ellen Greene originated the role of Audrey in the 1982 Off-Broadway and 1983 West End productions, and reprised that role for the film.
    • Anthony Asbury, the original Audrey II puppeteer for the 1983 West End production, was one of the character's 21 puppeteers for this film.
  • Self-Adaptation: Howard Ashman wrote the screenplay from his original book to the 1982 musical.
  • Spared by the Cut: The film was originally shot to match the ending of its inspiration with Audrey and Seymour getting eaten. Focus groups hated it and was replaced with the happy ending. A 1998 DVD re-release shows the original ending in black-and-white and, in 2012, than later in a color adaptation.
  • Stillborn Franchise: Plans for a sequel were announced but it never materialized.
  • Throw It In: Steve Martin contributed ideas such as socking the nurse in the face (originally he was to knock her out using his gas mask) and ripping off the doll's head.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The filmmakers originally offered the role of Audrey to Cyndi Lauper, before casting original stage star Ellen Greene. Lauper wanted the part but couldn't commit due to her recording/touring schedule at the time. Madonna was also reportedly considered for the role. Barbra Streisand was also rumored to have been offered the part.
    • Eddie Murphy was considered to voice Audrey II.
    • Someone at Geffen tried to get Rodney Dangerfield. They even tried to get him to record the vocals for Audrey II behind Oz's back. When the filmmakers returned to Pinewood Studios to reshoot the ending in September 1986, the revised script pages had Dangerfield playing Patrick Martin.
    • John Candy was originally approached to play Mushnik, but personally requested a smaller role instead. Given his past and future roles playing heavily accented Eastern European characters (Yosh Shmenge, "Djour Djilios", Kalishak, Yuri Petrovich in Hostage for a Day), it's not hard to see why they sought him out in particular.
    • Originally Steven Spielberg was to executive produce the film and Martin Scorsese was to direct, Scorsese wanting to shoot the film in 3D even, but production was stalled when a lawsuit was filed by the original film's screenwriter and actor, Charles B. Griffith. John Landis was also attached to the project for a time.
    • Oz originally wanted Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon to be highlighted by a spotlight whenever they appeared, but this proved to be impractical as the light would spill over onto the other actors. He did manage to have them 'magically' remain dry during the rain storm in the title number.
    • As detailed elsewhere, the film originally retained the Downer Ending in which Audrey and Seymour are killed and Audrey II begins its spectacular conquest of Earth to the tune of the song "Don't Feed the Plants". This went over so badly with test audiences that much of the final section of the film from Audrey II trying to eat her onward was reshot and recut to change things to a happier ending; the original finale had to be jettisoned altogether.
  • The Wiki Rule: The Little Shop of Horrors Wiki.


  • Acting for Two:
    • The actor playing Orin traditionally plays a multitude of other characters, including Patrick Martin, the first customer, the radio announcer, and all three of the business people during "The Meek Shall Inherit" (Mrs. Luce included). The latter three are especially significant, since it could be interpreted as the guilt-ridden Seymour seeing the face of Orin on other people.
    • It's common for the voice of Audrey II to show up in "Skid Row" as a hobo. That way, they could have a little bit of stage time before remaining hidden for the rest of the show.
  • Cut Song: Quite a few. Demos of them are available on the 2003 Broadway cast recording. The songs are...
    • "We'll Have Tomorrow": A duet between Audrey and Seymour, probably meant to take place shortly before Audrey gets eaten. Oddly, the line "we'll have tomorrow" is still sung in "Don't Feed the Plants". Unlike most cut songs, official sheet music exists for this song (released as part of the Hal Leonard Alan Menken Songbook).
    • "Bad": A Villain Song for Audrey II. It got reworked into "Mean Green Mother From Outer Space" in the movie, so the song would be eligible for a best original song nomination at the Oscars. (Which it received, but didn't win.) It was probably cut due to the severe Mood Whiplash that it would've caused after Audrey's death.
    • "A Little Dental Music": A song about Orin's practice. Sources vary on who was supposed to sing it — some say the urchins, some say Seymour.
    • "I Found a Hobby": A Villain Song for Orin, talking about how he discovered his sadism and became a dentist. This was presumably reworked into "Dentist!".
    • "The Worse He Treats Me": A song for Audrey, talking about her relationship with Orin. It's very similar to Oliver!'s "As Long As He Needs Me".
  • Role Reprise: Mel Welles, who played Mushnik in the original film, notably took on the role he originated in a Florida production of the musical in 1998.
  • What Could Have Been: The score was originally written with a conventional Broadway sound, meant to evoke the type of score used in the original film. Menken and Ashman found it wasn't working and instead discovered that a "bubblegum-pop" sound worked much better.