31 Days of Horror…musicals! : Little Shop of Horrors reivew

Hello to citizens of the Republic of Horror! I’m happy to be among you, and hope you have as much fun with this series as I’m going to. My name is Barlovv, I’m new to the team here, and I am celebrating these 31 days of horror in as an exciting a way as it is possible – 31 horror musicals.

Starting with one of many venerated classics that I have not seen before today. I know, gasp and shriek in despair as we dive into: Little Shop of Horrors.

Vital Stats
Released: 1986
Starring: Rick Moranis, Ellen Green, and Levi Stubbs
Directed by: Frank Oz

Surprising to no one more than myself, this musical has completely passed me by and become a thing that I really only know through pop cultural references. My high school didn’t put the musical on, and I just never got around to the movie in my youth and so here I am at 33 watching it for the first time, and my thoughts are: it’s basically fine.

I’m not sure any of the songs will have the staying power that I might have preferred, though many of them are very fun in the moment. Levi Stubbs in particular, as Audrey II, is absolutely fantastic start to finish. He brings so much life to an enormous puppet that you do kind of lose yourself to the reality of the film’s world and forget about the 30 people that are presumably operating Audrey at their largest. Tichina Arnold, Michelle Weeks, and Tisha Campbell are also excellent as the film’s chorus.

I found myself genuinely surprised by Moranis’ performance, his voice is stronger than I would have guessed. Stubbs is also great, and really gets to belt it out in a few numbers, though I found myself constantly wondering if her speaking voice was something she was actively putting on or just how she spoke. I also can’t imagine her character’s domestic abuse at the hands of a sadist dentist, played by Steve Martin, makes it to too many high school stages. It also doesn’t really get the attention it maybe deserves given the overall tone of the movie, and the seriousness of the abuse she is suffering.

On the note of addressing things that likely get glossed over in the high school stage productions, there is an entire piece about the hardships of living on skid row that caught me by surprise. It certainly feels dicey in it’s portrayal but at the same time manages not to punch down too hard.

As fun as the music and the performances are, the real standout here has to be the visual effects. The Audrey II puppet is absolutely incredible, the mouth puppet for the dentist song is also disgusting and incredible, and deserve no end of praise. It’s very clear that Frank Oz and Jim Henson have their hands all up in the production on this movie.

So – all of that is a lot of words to say that I think Little Shop of Horrors is a charming bit of fun and I’m not upset that I’ve seen it – but I also don’t know that I’ve filled a void in my life either? Truly the stand outs for me are the puppets, more than the actual songs. Moranis sings a kind of weird “nice guy” anthem, Suddenly Seymour, in which he refers to himself as a nice guy and talks at length about how Audrey doesn’t need make up, which gets a little bit embarrassing – but again that’s looking back at something tropey through the eyes of a filthy wokescold cuck, so I mean, what do I know?

It’s absolutely a fun movie, with some really cool practical effects work, but I will say one last thing: the very least they could have done is end the movie in an explosion of space goop – a genuine missed opportunity in an otherwise charming and fun movie.