That’s one fun fact I learned, but the real draw of this release is the film’s Holy Grail: the 23-minute original ending in its entirety and in full-color — not the unfinished black-and-white version — and it’s Quite Something to See.
As many Little Shop fans know, but thought they’d never view, the movie stayed true to the off-Broadway smash — itself based on a legendary 1960 Roger Corman quickie — by ending with the murderous plant Audrey II (voiced by The Four Tops’ Levi Stubbs) not only eating star-crossed leads Seymour (Rick Moranis) and Audrey (Ellen Greene), but then laying waste to New York City en route to a world takeover.
The effects of the mean green mother from outer space’s Godzilla-style rampage are incredible and, it should be noted, all practical. If it had seen theatrical release, I wonder if that Academy Award nomination for effects wouldn’t have notched up into a win. Its fourth wall-breaking stinger is also a delight.
As good as the footage is, however, this is one of those rare cases in which I think the test audiences were correct: Seymour and Audrey deserved their happy ending. That they ultimately did had to be part of why director Frank Oz’s Little Shop has been a perennial favorite of mine since I first saw it over Christmas vacation in ’86. I’ve seen it so many times, I have its soundtrack memorized. —Rod Lott