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YMMV / Little Shop of Horrors

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The musical

  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • From "Dentist":
      "Aw shut up, open wide, here I come!"
    • "Grow For Me" (and its buildup) is full of them. And no, this fact has not gone unnoticed by a lot of fans.
    • "Feed me, Seymour, feed me all night long!"
    • "Oh, the things we're gonna do to your mouth!"
    • "It's just the gas, it turns me on.."
  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • Anyone know the book Green Thoughts by John Collier? Thought not. In fairness, it's not known for certain that that story was the basis for Little Shop of Horrors. Other sources have been speculated, or it could've been a largely original idea.
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    • Would anyone have remembered the b-movie on which this was based had the musical not been a success? Few do anyway, as there have been many disgruntled Amazon customers who downloaded Roger Corman's movie thinking it was the Frank Oz one and complained of being "tricked."
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Maybe Audrey II isn't evil, maybe it's jealous of Seymour's relationship with Audrey and resolves to keep him all to itself.
    • Seymour himself. Is he a passive little wiener whose tragic flaw is a spineless inability to stand up to anyone, or was he always selfish and amoral but just didn't have the resources to make anything of it?
      • Even his love for Audrey is suspect; does he truly love her or does he see her as something to possess?
      • One YouTube commenter has a theory that Audrey II wasn't sentient, and that Seymour was just an insane murderer and used its mouth to hide the bodies. Once Audrey finds this out, he kills her too to silence her before committing suicide. The whole world-domination part disproves this, but it's still an interesting thought.
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    • Mushnik. He took in a street kid and is concerned for Audrey when she shows up with a bruise, but he jumps at the chance to take advantage of Seymour once he starts becoming successful and doesn't hesitate to try to blackmail him about Orin's death; was it mundane greed, or was Audrey II manipulating him in order to push Seymour?
    • Even the Greek Chorus isn't exempt from this. Are Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon just observers of the events of the story, or have they motives of their own? Different productions take different interpretations - the film version emphasises their role as narrators while downplaying their actual existence as characters in the plot, for example.
      • The 2016 UK tour production implied that the three girls are actively manipulating Seymour for their malevolent purposes; they stand in his way when he tries to flee during "Suppertime" and they even go so far as to laugh maniacally during "Don't Feed the Plants".
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    • It's very possible that Orin's mama told him to become a dentist because she was terrified of his sadism leading him to become a Serial Killer.
  • Awesome Music: Short answer — everything. Long answer...
    • "Dentist!" is upbeat, over-the-top, ridiculous, terrifying, and just a hell of a lot of fun. "Say ahhhhhhh!"
    • "Don't Feed the Plants" is the perfect ending to the show.
    • "Skid Row" is a surprisingly sad, somber song in such a silly musical, and it works very well.
    • "Feed me, Seymour...feed me all night long!"
  • Cant Unhear It: As far as fans are concerned, Ellen Green is Audrey. Originating the role to acclaim, reprising it several times even into her old age, and her famously unique character voice and belt are responsible.
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • In real life, a drug-addicted domestic abuser like Orin wouldn't be funny at all. But once you discover that this one is also an Elvis Impersonator who's drug of choice is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and who takes childlike glee in inflicting pain on everybody, it's near impossible to be offended.
    • Depending on how it's played, Audrey's line "When I die...which should be very shortly..." can be hysterical.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Orin, in a Love to Hate kind of way.
    • The three urchins, Ronette, Chiffon, and Crystal, are also quite popular in the fandom.
  • Evil Is Cool: Audrey II and Orin are definitely the most entertaining characters in the play thanks to their hamminess and catchy Villain Songs (and the fact that the former is a giant Man-Eating Plant). Averted in Seymour's case; he remains the same spineless wimp even as he feeds more people to the plant, and when he finally works up the gumption to destroy Audrey II, all his efforts fail and he gets eaten.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: It's not uncommon for audiences to let out a couple giggles the first time they see "Somewhere That's Green," in which Audrey waxes poetic about living in a house off the interstate and living an ordinary, suburban life. Then the show goes on, and Audrey develops into a mega-Woobie. The second time around, the song just seems really, really sad.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • The song in which Audrey II introduces itself and offers to make Seymour's dreams come true includes the line "I'm your genie, I'm your friend". A decade later, Ashman and Menken wrote "Friend Like Me", the song in which Genie introduces himself and offers to make Aladdin's dreams come true, for Aladdin.
    • While already hilarious in 1982, the line in "Somewhere that's Green" about a "Big, enormous, 12-inch screen" just gets funnier and funnier as time goes on.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Seymour. He definitely crossed the Moral Event Horizon at some point (where exactly the point was is up to you), but when Audrey dies and he's left all alone, you have to feel a bit sorry for him. His backstory (a poor orphan taken in by someone who doesn't even like him), and his desperate pining for Audrey at the start of the show, watching the girl he loves get abused by someone who doesn't love her the way she deserves, garners a bit of sympathy, too.
  • Love to Hate: Orin. He's loved for his great Villain Song and over-the-top hamminess. He's loathed for literally everything else about him; his sadism, the way he treats Audrey, and the fact that he's a dentist.
  • Magnificent Bitch: The evil Audrey II is a carnivorous plant with aspirations of world conquest. Arriving to Earth during a solar eclipse, Audrey II preys on the insecurities of Seymour Krelborn, falsely promising him fame and fortune in return for fresh meat. Audrey II takes advantage of Seymour's love for the real Audrey by suggesting to make her boyfriend "disappear" and shortly thereafter tempts Seymour into luring his boss into its maws when the threat of being exposed arises. A sassy, smooth-talking manipulator even when its true nature is on full display, Audrey II successfully brought about the end of mankind and stands as the prime example of the dangers of falling into temptation.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Audrey II eating Audrey. Some blame for it rests on Seymour as well.
    • Seymour killing Mr. Mushnik after being blackmailed for the death of Orin.
    • Orin Scrivello (D.D.S.), meanwhile, crossed it long before the show began, what with the way he treats his patients. Not to mention poor Audrey. Heck, when he was growing up he says he shot puppies, poisoned guppies, and bashed in the heads of cats, presumably among other things.
  • Pop Culture Holiday: Little Shop of Horrors Day is unofficially "the twenty-first daynote  of the month of September," cited in the prologue as the day Audrey II came down to Earth.
  • What an Idiot!: Seymour discussing his plan to destroy Audrey II with Audrey... when Audrey II is right there. Had they taken the conversation someplace more private, Audrey may not have died, since Twoey probably wouldn't have tried to use her to get to Seymour. Audrey has the excuse of not knowing the plant is sentient, but Seymour should've known better.
  • The Woobie: Audrey (the human). Her father ran out on her when she was a child, and she grew up poor, which is why she's trapped on Skid Row. She has absolutely zero self-esteem, which is why she stays with her abusive boyfriend while secretly pining for her sweet coworker that actually treats her well — not only does Audrey not know Seymour loves her back, she doesn't even think she's good enough for him. When her scumbag boyfriend gets eaten, she's understandably glad he's gone, but feels guilty for feeling that way, in spite of how terribly he treated her. Oh, and Audrey II eats her for no goddamn reason other than to mess with Seymour.

The movie

  • Adaptation Displacement: Fans of this movie are not aware of the Roger Corman movie it was based on, and are disappointed when they rent or download the original, and find out which one they're watching. To an arguably lesser extent, it has displaced the stage musical. See above for the original film's adaptation of the book.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Seymour Krelbourn. Is his letting Orin suffocate from laughing gas revenge, or is it due to him being in shock? Is him letting Mushnik being eaten by the plant because Seymour forced him to walk into the plant, or was Mushnik's backing up into the plant's mouth an action on his own accord? The movie actually encourages this, as unlike the musical Seymour is never shown actually enjoying his new-found success built on the bodies of Audrey II's victims, and the film cuts out the "Now (It's Just the Gas)" number, where originally Seymour openly acknowledges that he can do nothing and let Orin die. This is likely a big reason why the ending had to be changed.
    • Similarly to the musical, did Audrey II care for Seymour? Did it originally plan to kill Seymour the night of their final confrontation or did Seymour's rebellion against it drive Audrey II to do so as he risked ruining most of Audrey II's plans? Throughout the song, "Mean, Green, Mother from Outer Space" Audrey II repeatedly warns Seymour to back down and gets progressively angrier the as the song/fight continues until it concludes that Seymour has to die. Its unclear if whether Audrey II was lying to get Seymour's guard down, trying to spare him as he was still useful, or felt a form of loyalty for helping it grow from such a small plant. Audrey II swallowing Audrey in the Focus Group Ending might have been an attempt to intimidate Seymour back into submission, as she is miraculously unharmed when Seymour pulls her out of Audrey II's mouth.
  • Award Snub: Many were upset that Steve Martin, King of the Oscar Snub, wasn't nominated for his performance. Roger Ebert stated that Martin's Chewing the Scenery was the best part of the film and Gene Siskel immediately said he deserved a nod as soon as they talked about him in their review.
  • Awesome Music: The 1986 film gets this one all to itself: "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space", a fun, hilarious, and fairly badass Villain Song that would make for quite a showstopper if movies could break for applause.
  • Broken Base: The Focus Group Ending has practically split the fandom into two separate ones. While the Director's Cut version is usually preferred for being the same darkly comedic ending of the original play, it could also be argued that the merit of the Focus Group Ending is that it maintains the setting and characters better, as it leaves the plot set in the Skid Row area instead of branching out into a global scenario and does not abandon the characters in a comparatively brief and disconnected-feeling ending sequence that does not involve the main cast (apart from Audrey 2, of course). Also arguing for it is Frank Oz's own rationale in making the happier ending in the first place: The film's original ending carries a disproportionately heavy emotional Gut Punch that the stage version doesn't have (since Seymour is depicted as less innocent and more deserving of his fate, and the live theater convention of the cast coming out for a curtain call removes the grim finality of the characters' deaths).
  • Can't Un-Hear It: In addition the to aforementioned Ellen Green, there's a few other examples.
    • Rick Moranis is far from the best Seymour in terms of vocal ability, but he's such a perfect fit as nerdy Krelborn that it's hard to not think of him when seeing the show.
    • Levi Stubbs glorious vocals are rather unforgettable and every other Audrey II will inevitably be compared to him, even if the stage version is written a bit lower.
    • Comedy legend Steve Martin's relentlessly cartoonish performance and strong singing have certainly made quite a mark on Orin as well.
  • Costume Porn: The dresses worn by the Greek Chorus.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Director's Cut ending, as much of a Downer Ending as it is, features the incredibly funky Don't Feed The Plants as the final number. Highlights include the plants blowing up factories by blowing into their smokestacks, and laying on train tracks with their mouths open, waiting for people to drive into them.
  • Ending Fatigue: As faithful as the original ending was to the stage musical, it drags. The ending consists of two long musical numbers back to back, the first with Seymour getting eaten by Audrey 2 and the second consists of Audrey 2's army destroying the world. In fact, the film's version of the ending is even longer than in the original play. "Mean Green Mother" wasn't included in the play version, and Seymour willingly fed himself to the plant to try and destroy it from the inside. Moreover, the original "Don't Feed the Plants" sequence is 3 minutes long in the play, whereas the final cut adds 4 more minutes of instrumental song with footage of people running away.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Despite his abusive history, a good chunk of the fans have taken a shine to Orin.
  • He Really Can Act:
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Audrey II, naturally. But also that a new Audrey plant is seen smiling at the end.
    • Everything about that psychotic dentist. You end up wondering if his mama opted to make him a dentist because she knew that his only other choice would have been Serial Killer.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Two members of the film's Greek Chorus, Tisha Campbell-Martin and Tichina Arnold, went on to play the main female characters on Martin. The former later went on to play Damon Wayans' wife on My Wife and Kids, and the latter later went on to play young Chris Rock's mom on Everybody Hates Chris. Also, Campbell-Martin was in Zack and Miri Make a Porno as Delaney's Jerkass wife.
    • Audrey II is voiced by Levi Stubbs, who is best known to animation and video game fans as the voice of Mother Brain in Captain N: The Game Master and to music fans as lead vocalist for Motown group The Four Tops.
    • During "Da-Doo", Danny John-Jules, who would later go on to play the Cat in Red Dwarf, can be seen amongst the group of male singers prior to the eclipse.
  • Special Effect Failure: In a movie with such good special effects, its one notable flaw stands out; during the scene where Seymour electrocutes the plant, a digitally added explosion is placed over it and the plant simply disappears.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: The ending.
    • Not so much. There's a new Audrey II plant in the garden...
    • Some may get this feeling whenever Audrey opens her mouth due to the extremely high pitch of her voice.
  • Ugly Cute: Audrey II, especially as a baby plant.
  • Uncanny Valley: Deliberately done with Christopher Guest. Frank Oz kept telling him to be more and more excited by the plant until he was basically a robot.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • The Audrey II puppet is possibly one of the most complex animatronics of its kind, and still holds up to this day. Frank Oz wanted to direct this film for a reason!
    • It gets even more impressive when you learn the puppet wasn't able to move nearly as fast as we see in the film, requiring all those scenes to be shot with Rick Moranis performing at half-speed.
    • The giant Audrey II's sequence in the original ending was so well-done that master puppeteer Frank Oz still doesn't know quite how he was able to pull it off to this day.
    • Peter Wallach's stop motion animation is pretty good as well.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • In the 1960 version, the plant never expressed a preference for humans, it just wanted to be fed. Seymour never even tried to get it food from a butcher shop.
    • A meta example. Frank Oz said he didn't like having to rewrite the ending, but felt he had to please the audience. He also rewrote Orin and Mushnik's deaths in such a way that the audience could much more easily think Seymour never crossed the Moral Event Horizon, and thus he remained a very sympathetic character. How did he think the audience would react to the Downer Ending after that?
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Through the haze of the years, it's easy to think this movie as a little less grim than it actually is - you remember the songs (composed by Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin to boot...yes the same duo who wrote many of the classic Disney songs from the Disney Renaissance of the late 80's and early 90's also created the musical about a giant scary plant that eats people and manipulates people into doing the dirty work for him) and the jokes, and the fact that the ending is happy. But parents who haven't watched the movie recently should beware:
    • If your child is afraid of the dentist, you may want to skip that part.
    • The scene where Seymour chops up Orin and feeds him to the plant, which laughs with its mouth full of Orin...
      • That scene actually could've been worse, as props of Orin's head and arms were crafted. Oz decided at the last minute that it was too gruesome and had the props wrapped in red-splattered newspaper for the scene to obscure them (this can be seen in the workprint footage; it's not particularly gory, but it is more disturbing when you can clearly see it's his head that Seymour is holding).
    • We actually see the plant swallow Mr. Mushnik whole and later attempt to do so with Audrey.
      • This applies even moreso to the play, where the protagonist actually murders multiple people, all of the main characters die at the end, and the world ends.


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