Little Shop Director's Cut - Part Two
The director’s cut of Little Shop is now available on Blu Ray and I hope it has a long and happy life out there. Keep in mind, though, that even though Howard wrote the screenplay, the true Howard Ashman version of Little Shop of Horrors is the book and lyrics of the original stage production. The film is a Frank Oz production with pretty significant changes in structure and is a quite different animal. I do understand why Oz felt the need to cut some of the show’s songs for the film – different media have different demands – but I still feel their loss.
I also have my own theory about why the fabled test audience hated the original ending and it’s not only because the actors don’t come out and take bows, proving that they’re alive.
In the Ashman book for the stage play, Seymour sees what he’s done. He’s not just afraid of the plant – he’s avenging the murder of his true love. And he’s attempting to save humankind. He dies a hero – bravely climbing into the belly of the beast to save us all – or at least to try.
In the film, Seymour dies a petrified little boy. The final shot of Seymour is funny and creepy, wrapped as he is in the plant’s tendrils but he’s essentially the same hapless schmoe we’ve been watching for the last hour and a half. There’s no arc, no real growth and no change in his character.
Odd as it seems, I think if Seymour’s character had grown more in the film, as he does in the show, the audience would have handled his death better. There’s a big difference between a victim and a hero.
And I have to say, and please don’t hate me for this, I kind of think the original ending as we see it in the director’s cut is just a little too long. The old show biz adage, always leave them wanting more, is as true today as it ever was. I think there’s one (or two) too many reaction shots.
That said, I love, love, love the El that goes right into an Audrey II’s open maw. And that very last frame with the Urchns is total greatness. I’m being a little circumspect here because if you’ve seen the director’s cut, you know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, you definitely should pick up the Blu-Ray.