Little Shop of Horrors



  • edited August 2011
    EDIT: Disregard.
  • edited August 2011
    Hell, I wouldn't mind seeing it for entertainment proposes! :P haha
  • Well for those who are interested, I found another place on youtube, this time acutely having the acutel demos of some songs on there for people to listen, with both Howard and Alan's voices on there. Here's the link:


    If this still looks a bit iffy, then it's ok to deleat this post still. Why, if your reading this Mrs. Ashman, you can take a look for yourself and see if this is leget or not. Cause trust me, your judgements are the only ones I go by when it comes to this sort of stuff.
  • Wow. What I love, and what really moved me was hearing Howard and Alan sounding so young! And it was so much like hearing Howard in the days of sitting around the living room - before he and Alan could do big fancy demos - closer to what I wrote about in my last blog. Thanks for posting this, toonmate.
  • Of course. I'm just glad you got a kick out of it and got some nostalgia in you. And if nothing else, I'm also just glad that I got to make you happy.
  • While we're on the subject of Howard's demos, I have a question.

    There are two demos for "Under the Sea"; one was released on "Howard Sings Ashman", and a different demo was released in, I believe 1994-1995, on "The Music Behind the Magic". And, while it's 100% Howard on the HSA version, I'm not sure who it is in the MBtM demo. While it sounds like Howard, at the same time, it doesn't.

    Any idea who it is?

    Music Behind the Magic demo:

    Howard Sings Ashman demo:
  • edited August 2011
    ...I've taken my mistake out of this post. Read below...
  • I thought it was Howard...also in the box set song notes, Alan wrote something like Howard was Sebastian for 'Under the Sea(demo)'
  • I'm stupid. It's definitely Howard. I think I (inexplicably) listened to "Part of Your World" on the Music Behind the Magic set instead of "Under the Sea." But yes, "Under the Sea" is definitely Howard.
  • cool demos! :)
  • Personally, I think they could have simply edited down the original film ending to make it more palatable, keeping the key scenes. I thought the death of Audrey was beautifully filmed, but after that I have some questions. In the show, if memory serves, Seymour dies while bravely attacking the plant - in the original film ending, he is helplessly lifted towards the gaping mouth before being devoured, so his death doesn't seem as noble.

    I also thought the scenes of gigantic plants terrorizing cities and devouring people (though beautifully shot) were too long and too graphic. The clever satire in the lyrics is overshadowed by the destruction on screen, which obviously wasn't in the stage play.

    So while I do think the original film ending was a bit much, I also think David Geffen overreacted in calling for wholesale changes, when just toning it down would have been fine.
  • Interesting thoughts and I think you're right. The problem was in the graphic destruction as opposed to the stage play's thought of destruction. It was supposed to be a take on the Japanese horror films, of course but if it lacked humor, it gave us nothing. I have to dig out a little quote Howard gave for the first Japanese production of LSOH. It always makes me laugh. I'll post it here when I find it.
  • Here's a quote Howard gave for the opening of the first Tokyo production of Little Shop. I've always loved the last line:

    "Little Shop of Horrors in Tokyo! I'd never have believed it possible, back in 1982, the year the show was born in a 99 seat theater on the second floor of a warehouse building in New York. But here we are, five years later, with a film version on videocassette and live productions everywhere -- even behind the Iron Curtain. As the lyric says, "Don't it go to show ya never know?"

    I hope you enjoy the production you're about to see tonight. I respectfully offer it as partial repayment for the fun I'VE had from Godzilla and Rodan.

    --Howard Ashman
  • edited December 2011
    Sarah, there's something I've always wondered about the film version of Little Shop. How much say did Howard have after he turned in script?

    I don't exactly mean the changing of endings. I'm wondering if it was his idea, or if he approved, the deletion of "It's Just the Gas," "~Morning," and "~Renovations", and the addition of things like Seymour's interview and the "Long, Slow Root Canal" scene, or if his original script was much closer to the stage version, and they were inserted later on by the producers. (I can totally see the interview and "Root Canal" scenes being almost complete improv by the actors involved.)

    Also, a very popular encyclopedic-type website that will go un-named says that, once it was decided to change the ending, Howard was the one who wrote the new one. Is this true? Did he put his personal feelings aside and write the best "happy ending" he could? Or was a different, nameless "ghost-writer" brought in to write the new ending, and Howard is credited with it just because his name is in the credits?
  • Also, do you know if Howard was happy with the film, before and after the ending was changed?
  • Justin, I don't want to give you bad info so I'm asking some others what their memory is of Howard writing the revised ending. I'll get back to you (it was a long time ago so I better fact-check myself).
    What I do remember is that Howard wasn't happy with the ending or really with any changes. Understandably, it was hard for him to see anyone else's hands on Little Shop. I remember him being frustrated but I also remember getting the sense that he was a little intimidated by the film making process.
    He thought audiences were smart enough to get the original ending and its implications.

    In my opinion - the film has great moments but it's kind of a gateway drug to the real thing - the show itself.
  • edited January 2012
    It's okay, Mrs. Ashman. Take your time. :)

    For nobody whose seen it, here an outtake reel from the movie (with Frank Oz's commentary).

    Also of note, the reel includes color footage of:
    *Rick running past a series of pillars for Seymour's cut "Meek" sequence.
    *Twoey's line "Come join your dentist friend and Mushnik!"
    *A brief shot from the reprise of "Green"
    *A brief shot of the bedroom used in the original ending (though nothing major)
    *Seymour being eaten by Twoey ("The sequel! What about the sequel?!")
    *New York being taken over by Audrey IIs, and
    *Crystal, Ronette and Chiffon in front of the American flag (though before the take starts)
  • Sarah, one more quick question. I was wondering, do you had any photos of the original production of the show? I've search on the interwebs for some, but I find one every blue moon.
  • With the new Blu-Ray release on the horizon, and after watching the DVD again (Noticing a couple glitches I never saw before that better be fixed for the Blu-Ray!), lately, I've been thinking about the original ending vs. the happy ending a lot.

    Now, I have to say that, since I first posted and after seeing the original ending in context, I have been an avid defender of the original ending, refusing to watch the happy ending under any circumstance. (I must admit, I have my own cut of the film that I have on my computer and PS3. I'm sorry.)

    However, I now feel like we've been giving the new ending too much **haggis**. Yes, it's the lesser of the two endings, but it's doesn't really lessen the quality of the film too much. Yes, the moral of the story goes completely out the movie, and the editing is "a bit" choppy when Audrey falls down, but Howard did a successful job at writing an ending he didn't want to write.

    When I want to watch a movie, contemplate it's implications and symbolism, and think about my life and the world around me, I turn on the film with the original ending. When I want to watch a bit of a tongue-and-cheek musical about a man-eating plant and just relax, I pop in the theatrical version.
  • But I don't see why a tongue-in-cheek musical about a man-eating plant needs to exist. It's certainly not what LSOH was originally meant to be when Howard Ashman first wrote it. Any really good story is supposed to have my point, and it's not my fault if other people are too shallow to appreciate said point because they're too emotionally oversensitive to understand that being sad can be a very effective device in a story. I saw the original ending of Little Shop Of Horrors for the first time a few months after my mother died. I was twelve. That was the first real death I experienced. The original ending of LSOH was the first piece of media with death in it that I consumed after I'd really processed that death. From the point of view of the bastardized-ending-supporters, this is all setting me up to be traumatized by the ending, and that's why the ending shouldn't be forced onto the public. But no. Everything immediately clicked for me. Death of Audrey. Seymour's hopeless fight with the plant. The public/audience, all like Seymour, all feeding the plants and getting what's coming to them. Ever since that clicked, the happy ending has become almost completely unwatchable for me. I then sought out the stage version of the show, and I've seen it an average of a little over three times a year since then, mostly in different locations, though sometimes if I'm really impressed I see the same production twice. (The first production and the sixth productions I've seen were the ones I've seen twice.) I've even started taking friends to productions (converted one into a giant fan - not as big as me, of course, though). So, to return to my main point - no, the happy ending version is not a legitimate work in its own right. It's the equivalent of golden toilet paper. That Howard Ashman was forced to write this version and see this deformed, soulless version of his masterpiece disseminated is a tragedy perhaps almost as big as LSOH itself.
  • I have to say, if LSOH were not meant to be tongue-in-cheek they might have thought about not making it so darn funny. What seems to me is that you're falling into the same trap that the preview audience did, which is to not appreciate how humor and horror, comedy and tragedy, mirth and pathos, can all exist at the same time and serve to highlight and deepen each other. They definitely are not mutually exclusive.
  • Little Shop Of Horrors has its funny moments, that's undeniable. But it's very, very clear to me that the humor exists to serve the drama, not the other way around. Perhaps with the exception of the First Customer scene, every joke in the show has very heavy dark undercurrents. On the other hand, there are plenty of completely serious scenes, where the only reason anyone could possibly laugh is the "inherent absurdity of the situation" - but all fiction relies on suspension of disbelief, to some extent or another. Why should the line be drawn before Little Shop Of Horrors? And witty lines aren't jokes. They're good writing.
  • edited July 2012

    From Frank Oz's commentary track for the film: ""Howard Ashman said his tongue was firmly in his cheek when he wrote [Little Shop]."

    Now, that being said, I do think that the film is a bit subdued due to the medium of, well, film! But, in my opinion, it's a tongue-in-check musical film (including The Intended Cut) that takes itself very, very seriously. And that's what makes it so wonderful to me, especially when I watch TIC; the, for lack of a better word, sillier aspects and lines of the piece is exercised from the movie ("Call Back in the Morning", "He gave a warm place to sleep, under the counter. Nice things to eat, like meatloaf and water..."), and everything is played out so real and genuine, that you feel for the characters and root for them, making your emotional connection to the characters more real and the original ending more devastating.

    This goes back to something Howard said during his Little Mermaid lecture for the Disney animators. While explaining why musical material works so well in animation, he mentioned the differences in the suspension of disbelief for theatre and films. In theatre, the action is being played out in front of you. Since your brain goes "This isn't real, and it's being acted out for me for entertainment purposes", it's easier for you to accept the more outrageous aspects of it, and accept the fact that the characters break into song for no apparent reason. To paraphrase Kathrine Hepburn, "The only people I personally know who break out into song every 10 minutes have been committed." (The same with animation; since your brain sees that it's a series of drawings and can't be real, you can accept more things.)

    However, in live action, your brain tends to go "This real; this all happened and it just happened to get captured on film," making it harder to suspend your disbelief. Howard said that, when they were previewing "Little Shop", they would get card back from, I think, 8-12 year olds saying "Why are they singing?" (A perfect example of this: My brother has recently seen "The Little Mermaid" and "The Lion King" for the first time in years, and thoroughly enjoyed them. However, when I tried to get him to watch "Sweeney Todd" and "Little Shop", he couldn't get through them. When I asked why, he said "I couldn't get into 'em." )

    This, I think, is one of the reasons why the infamous test audience completely rejected the original ending. It's been brought up in the past, but it still holds up. In the musical, the action is happening on stage, and you know it isn't real, so you accept it better. You know nobody actually died, and you can deal with it better. In the movie, your brain trick you into thinking it's real, so the death of Audrey is harder to deal with; to you, she's a real person who your rooting for, and her death is devastating.

    This has been brought up before also, but the test audience wasn't expecting what they got. What they expected was a tongue-in-cheek musical about a singing plat, and, to a certain degree, that's what they got. However, that changed when Audrey dies. Remember, Frank Oz says that the entire screening was going perfectly, the audience applauding after every number and laughing at all the right places, and then it completely died when the film turned 100% serious (Audrey's death).

    Now, with all that said, I think we should be accepting of the happy ending. Is it the lesser ending? Yes. Should the original ending have been retained? Yes. Did David Geffen warn Howard and Frank at the beginning of production that audiences would reject the original ending? Yes. Is the happy ending all we have had for the past 26 years? Yes.

    I am no way saying that the happy ending should permanently replace the original ending. But, also, I am in no way saying that we should consider the happy ending the worst thing to happen to film. They did what they had to do to get the film to get released; if I'm right, a film has to past a certain percent of approval from the test audiences to get released, and when 100% of a test audience hates a certain aspect of a film, it was to be changed to get released. (Remember, this wan't an art film, this wasn't an experimental film, it was a large budget studio film.)

    Now, I wish it would've been handled differently. I wish that Howard would've heeded Geffen's warning and made the ending more predictable and less abrupt. I wish Seymour wasn't portrayed as such a push-over and made more responsible for his actions (which is my only real criticism of the film), making the ending more appropriate. But, they did what they had to do.

    Hopefully, this makes sense. My mind is running on empty right now.

    **DISCLAIMER: We have to remember that almost everything stated in this thread are our opinions. So, I'm right, you're right, and everyone is right. While my opinions may be true for me, I don't assume that you agree with everything I say. I am just giving my opinions for discussion purposes.**
  • As someone who has never seen the original ending in context (although I've been fully aware of it every time I've watched the movie and I do believe it's the right and better one so I can't wait for the Intended Cut so I can view it in context) or the play, I would say I definitively see the merits of the movie as it was released.

    The movie is fun and the ending makes it very light-hearted. I know that was never the intention or the point, but watching the movie makes me happy even with the lesser ending. And to me, that's enough. I respect those of you who's seen the play and such, but as someone who never had that opportunity I've loved the movie for what it is since I first saw it. :)
  • Hey Justin, just out of curiosity where did you get that quote of Howard talking about the suspention of disbelief and how animation and musical theatre work so well together? I'm curious to figure out where it came from.
  • It's from the excerpt from his lecture on the Waking Sleeping Beauty DVD.
  • edited August 2012
    Am I the only person who thinks that Little Shop would make the perfect Disney film? They can just do what they did with "Nightmare Before Christmas"! They can change as little as possible, animate it, and release through Miramax! (Miramax is still a thing, right?)
  • ^ Miramax isn't owned by Disney anymore, actually. ;)

    But I'd love to see a Stop-Motion version of Little Shop of Horrors, actually. It would be pretty awesome and I think it would work perfectly. I don't necessarily see Disney making it, though, unless maybe if Henry Selick was involved. But maybe LAIKA. (who made Coraline and ParaNorman)
  • I just realized that I meant to write "Touchstone", the label Nightmare was released under. For some reason, I keep mixing up the two.
  • edited September 2012
    A couple days ago at work, I listened to the bootleg recording of the Broadway production that I have. And I realized two things. One, I can't listen to the whole thing at work, since it's a bit awkward to explain why I'm bawling like a child in the middle of a mountain of clothing. But also this.

    There's a moment in the musical that I love. It's not something that's written, but it's in every single video and recording of the scene I see and hear. It's the moment after Seymour tells Twoey "That's my last offer. Yes or no?" We softly hear "Suddenly Seymour"/"Somewhere That's Green" as we see Audrey walk onstage, sigh, and lean on the fire-escape, with The Plant looking in her direction, sensing her presence. What I love most is the audience's reaction to this scene almost every time.

    There's a hush. The people who know the ending, and know what happens, are all trying to contain their emotions, while the people who don't know about the original ending, in my opinion the majority, are sitting and watching with bated breath, all thinking the same thing. "He... He's not gonna eat her, right? I mean, this is a musical. There's always a happy ending in musicals. Right?" This moment, though small, sets up the tragic death of Audrey perfectly.

    In my opinion, the absence of this moment in the film is one reason why the sad ending didn't work. Without you knowing it, it introduces the idea of Audrey being eaten.

    And it's not like Howard and Frank didn't try to keep it! They did their best with the phone call. But it just doesn't work as well. In my opinion, it just happens too late. In the musical, it happens during another scene, giving you a few moments to think about it and mentally prepare for it while the whole idea just sucker punches you in the movie.
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