Over the weekend I introduced my 13-year old to a childhood favorite: 1986’s Little Shop of Horrors. It’s free to stream for Amazon Prime members, and I have to say that I remembered why I watched it constantly as a child as I watched it became a new favorite for my own kid. Also? Those practical effects? They still look damn good.
Onward to yon mindblowers!
1. Frank Oz, voice of Miss Piggy, directed this film and brought along members of the Jim Henson company to create the Audrey II plant effects. Other directors considered and attached at one time or another included John Landis and Martin Scorcese.
2. Lyricist Howard Ashman and composer Alan Menken wrote the songs and music for the flick. The duo would also work together creating memorable songs for another iconic work of my childhood: 1989’s Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
3. In fact, Audrey (Ellen Greene) has a song “Somewhere That’s Green” that Ashman and Menken refer to as an “I Want” song. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s “I Want” song is “Part of Your World”, or, as the composing twosome referred to it, “Somewhere That’s Wet”.
4. The Jim Henson Company, including Jim’s son Brian, helped to make and operate the six Audrey II puppets used in production. The smallest plant was four inches tall and the largest was more than 12 feet tall, requiring over 60 puppeteers to control it.
5. Jim Henson’s daughter, Heather, also appeared in the movie. She was an abused dental patient with Saw-like braces in the office of Steve Martin’s Dr. Orin Scrivello, D.D.S.
6. Ellen Greene was the only off-Broadway cast member to also be cast in the movie, reprising her role as Audrey. Cyndi Lauper was offered the role, but declined due to conflicts with her touring schedule.
7. The Henson Company used Greene’s lips as the inspiration for Audrey II’s lips. Unfortunately, the foam rubber construction of the lips had trouble syncing up with its songs, forcing production to film in slow motion and then speeding up the footage later. Actors sharing a scene and a song with the giant, murderous plant had to lip sync slow too.
8. The original ending had everyone die. It was included in the 30th-anniversary release of the DVD. Oz said that audiences reacted negatively when he used the play’s ending, so he had to change it. He blamed the lack of curtain calls in movies as compared to plays, although each of the characters receives a credit card at the end of the movie.
9. Audrey II’s show-stopping song “Mean Green Mother From Outer Space” was the first Oscar-nominated song from a movie to include profanity. As such, the song was edited before being played during the live award ceremony. Also fact: It’s the best song ever in the history of songs.
10. The Greek Chorus of Tichina Arnold, Tisha Campbell-Martin, and Michelle Weeks derived their character names from girl groups of the 50s and 60s: The Crystals, The Chiffons, and The Ronettes.
11. Bill Murray ad-libbed most of his dentist-fetish patient’s lines.
12. All of the songs are different on the official soundtrack when compared to what was used in the movie. Only “Da-Doo” is the same in film and soundtrack.