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Blu-ray Review Little Shop of Horrors Blu-ray Review

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Cameron Yee, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    A never-before-released director’s cut is the primary selling point of director Frank Oz’s “Little Shop of Horrors” Blu-ray. Featuring a great high definition presentation and a respectable set of special features, it's another great effort courtesy of Warner Home Video.



    [​IMG]


    Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut


    Release Date: October 9, 2012
    Studio: Warner Home Video
    Packaging/Materials: Blu-ray DigiBook
    Year: 1986
    Rating: PG-13
    Running Time: Theatrical Version: 1:33:54 / Director’s Cut: 1:43:12
    MSRP: $34.99







    THE FEATURE

    SPECIAL FEATURES



    Video

    AVC: 1080p high definition 1.85:1

    Standard and high definition



    Audio

    Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version: DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Theatrical Version: Dolby Digital: French 2.0, German 1.0, Italian 1.0, Castellano 1.0, Spanish 1.0

    Various



    Subtitles

    English SDH, French, Spanish, Castellano, German SDH, Italian SDH,

    Various





    The Feature: 4.5/5


    It’s a hard knock life on New York’s Skid Row. Just ask Seymour Krelborn (Rick Moranis), an orphan who grew up on the street but who now works for peanuts for Mr. Mushnik (Vincent Gardenia) and his florist shop. The only bright spot in Seymour’s life is Mushnik’s delicate floral arranger Audrey (Ellen Greene), but as she’s unavailable to him, dating the sadistic, motorcycle-riding dentist Orin Scrivello, DDS (Steve Martin), he spends all of his time cultivating various rare plants instead.



    His latest discovery, literally falling from the sky in the middle of an eclipse, is a mysterious, Venus Flytrap-like specimen he names Audrey II. The plant is so intriguing in its shape and color that it’s soon attracting attention, bringing much needed business through Mushnik’s doors and even a bit of fame for Seymour. The only problem is Audrey II wants nothing but human blood for sustenance, and its hapless caretaker is quickly running out of fingers to prick. With Audrey II increasing in size and appetite with each feeding, it’s not long before Seymour begins looking for something - or someone - of more suitable size to appease it.



    Adapted from one of Roger Corman’s eleventh-hour productions by the powerhouse writing/composing team of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, the stage musical “Little Shop of Horrors” had its debut off-Broadway in 1982. After four years of critical and commercial acclaim in both New York City and London’s West End, the musical was brought to the big screen by David Geffen, one of the show’s original producers.



    Directing reins went to longtime Jim Henson collaborator Frank Oz, who brought more than a few technical and creative touches to the movie. Combining an elaborate set built in Pinewood Studios and phenomenal creature design and puppetry, Oz effectively expanded the production beyond the confines of the stage, while keeping intact the source material’s instantly hummable musical numbers (favorites usually involving the sassy doo-wop Greek Chorus of Tichina Arnold, Michelle Weeks, and Tisha Campbell). Choice comedic appearances by the likes of Martin, John Candy and Bill Murray only enhance the production’s rollicking, darkly humorous screenplay, though things ultimately went too dark when Oz stuck with the stage show’s original, B-movie-inspired ending. With preview audiences responding negatively to it, the ending was changed to provide a storybook conclusion, though for some the alteration compromised the story’s integrity.



    For many years the original ending languished on home video in the form of a rare, black-and-white outtake, but now viewers can see it re-constructed and re-integrated with the feature in the form of a sanctioned Director’s Cut. Though some of the pacing needs fine tuning and there are some unfinished aspects to the soundtrack, seeing the film as it was originally intended counts as a rare treat for first time viewers and long time fans alike. Regardless of one’s preference about the how the film should end, it’s wonderful now to have a choice in the matter, with both the theatrical version and the Director's Cut available on the Blu-ray release.


    Video Quality: 4/5


    Presented in 1080p with the AVC codec, the transfer approximates the 1.85:1 aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 display. The image features strong, inky blacks and deep, rich color, though contrast can be a little inconsistent, most often exhibiting a slight amount of compression that eliminates fine shadow detail. Detail is decent, sometimes looking quite exceptional in close ups and holding up nicely in wide and establishing shots as well. The transition to the restored ending in the Director’s Cut is seamless, with no evidence that the material was physically damaged or compromised in any way. In fact, the theatrical version’s ending now seems more obvious it’s a re-shoot, though without the opportunity to do an A-B comparison most would be hard pressed to point out the differences.


    Audio Quality: 4/5


    Dialogue and vocals in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track are consistently clear and detailed, though I admit to having a little trouble understanding some of Audrey’s lines due to her accent and wispy voice. The film’s musical numbers get a great boost with balanced and seamless support in the surround channels, which tend to take priority over any kind of environmental or atmospheric effects. Bass frequencies never quite reach LFE depths, but there are some nice rumbly moments here and there for the subwoofer to handle.


    Special Features: 3.5/5


    The bonus material includes items from the 14-year old DVD release along with a few new items highlighting the Director’s Cut. Vintage promotional materials round out a solid, if somewhat perfunctory, set of extras.



    Audio Commentary with Director Frank Oz: Ported from the DVD release, Oz offers plenty of anecdotes and technical details throughout the course of the film, though some may find his delivery a bit on the monotonous side (ironic considering his renowned character voice work).



    Frank Oz and Little Shop of Horrors: The Director’s Cut (10:41, HD): Frank Oz and visual effects artist Richard Conway describe the creation of the ultimately excised original ending, explain why audiences responded so negatively to it, and discuss their personal impressions of the change and the re-creation of the Director’s Cut.



    A Story of Little Shop of Horrors (23:04, SD): The 1987 documentary delves into the property’s history from its origination as a last-minute creation of director Roger Corman, to its adaptation into an off-Broadway musical, to a successive adaptation into a theatrical feature. The piece includes interviews with Corman, director Frank Oz, producer David Geffen, actors Rick Moranis and Ellen Green, and the technicians behind the creation and animation of the Audrey II animatronic puppet.



    Outtakes and Deleted Scenes (8:42, SD): The material includes an optional commentary with director Frank Oz, but overall he doesn’t have much to say other than a few random observations and bits of trivia.



    Director’s Cut Ending with Frank Oz Commentary (22:01, HD): Focusing mostly on the technical aspects of the scenes, Oz repeats some of the information from the earlier featurette, but overall the two pieces complement each other well.



    Teaser Trailer (1:09, SD)



    Theatrical Trailer (2:07, SD)



    Collectible Book: Printed material incorporated into the packaging includes an essay about the film, actor and crew biographies, and numerous photographs from the film’s production and promotion.


    Recap


    The Film: 4.5/5


    Video Quality: 4/5


    Audio Quality: 4/5


    Special Features: 3.5/5


    Overall Score (not an average): 4/5



    Warner Home Video has cultivated a great high definition presentation of “Little Shop of Horrors,” director Frank Oz’s expertly handled adaptation of the celebrated off-Broadway stage musical. Incorporating the film’s original ending for the first time, the release stands as a long-awaited treat for fans, though new viewers should also be thrilled with the choice of having both versions of the film available. With bonus material highlighting the restored material, along with items from the previous DVD release, it all adds up to fine, highly recommendable release.
     
  2. Johnny Angell

    Johnny Angell Played With Dinosaurs Member

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    If I understood your review correctly, the director's cut with the dark ending is the only option? There's no choice to view the theatrical version? I've not seen the dark ending but when I first watched the movie, I thought the happy ending was over the top and out of place. I'd like to have a choice, but if there's only one, let it be the director's cut.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    Sorry, there is the option to watch both versions. I'll try to make that more clear.
     
  4. Adam Gregorich

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    Thanks for the review Cameron. Its about time this officially made it to Blu-ray!
     
  5. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    I hate David Geffen for destroying the price of my super rare LSOH DVD =p
    Seriously tho, had this pre-ordered, can't wait to see the reconstruction.
     
  6. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    Just received this, along with several other new releases. Little Shop was the first one I spun, and I went to the new ending directly. As the guy who broke the story that Warner was recalling the original DVD release due to the black and white work print included with it, it was very nice to finally see the finished product. Sure, the music edits are rough, and there are a few too many shots of the panicked crowd's feet, but the rest is wonderful.
     
  7. mattCR

    mattCR Executive Producer
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    I am SO glad to hear the dark ending is an option. I like both endings, but I find something really oddly funny about the dark ending, so I have always enjoyed it... I was one of those who had the (later recalled) DVD with that ending (and then STUPIDLY sold it for $50 on Ebay, and it ended up worth way more than that).
     
  8. Dick

    Dick Producer

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    Sam, you still could have sold it, had you done so the week the Blu-ray was announced. A lot of potential bidders are slow to discover an impending re-issue. And, seeing as how your DVD actually contains a black and white version and (though I don't know this) perhaps one or two tiny other features that didn't get ported over, it might have some value still. For completists, maybe.
     
  9. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    I watched The Director's Cut last night, projected at 100", and really enjoyed it. I have to give this disc my highest compliment: I enjoyed the movie and never thought about the technology. I am so happy to have this in great blu-ray quality and with the option of either version.
     
  10. Mark Walker

    Mark Walker Premium
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    Just finished it. Loved it. My heart sank a bit, but I also thought, "Wow, this is a better film now."
     
  11. gomezfan69

    gomezfan69 Stunt Coordinator

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    Even though I like the idea of a darker ending, I found the Director's Cut ending to be a completely unsatisfying conclusion to the film. I don't think that Frank Oz's conclusion that the test audience hated the ending because
    the two leads were fed to the plant
    is necessarily correct, at least for me I just felt that the ending didn't work. It's an interesting thing to see on it's own, but I would never choose to end the movie with it. I'm glad this disc was made available as I am fascinated by legitimate alternate movie cuts.
     
  12. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    I agree with you. I am glad to have the alternate but I prefer the theatrical cut at the end of the day.
     
  13. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    The thing I like about the director's cut is the audaciousness of it all. It's like they said, 'oh yeah you want a happy ending? Well screw all of you!'
     
  14. bryan4999

    bryan4999 Supporting Actor

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    Ha! Ha! Very true. And I do like the part where
    the plant comes thru the screen at the very end. When I saw the live show at The Westwood Playhouse, they dropped vines from the ceiling onto the audience during the cutain call for a similar effect.
     
  15. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

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    Steve, I must have seen your scoop on the recall of the DVD but I sure don't remember.
    Where you able to post that info before or after it was on shelves?
    I was in a Tower records on release day and had it in my hand but always thought the movie a bit corny so decided not to buy it.
    Soon after I learned of the recall and was not happy since I had a collector attitude as well as a movie watcher frame of mind.
    Eventually got one on eBay for $50 even while most were selling it for well over $150, maybe I got Matt's.
    Picked the new one p today at Target who seems to have the lowest at retail price at $25.
    Had a $5 gc and the target 5% off gets it to my house for $19.
    Is there any mention of the recall on the bluray?
     
  16. Paul D G

    Paul D G Screenwriter

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    Big fan of this film. Rather than just watching the ending I decided to watch the entire movie. I thought the original ending was, maybe, a little too much... too over the top and a little too long. I recall seeing in the theater and leaving annoyed because they changed the ending to the musical. The only thing satisfying, for me, was the final shot.

    But still, this original ending is a joy to see finally reincorporated into the film.
     
  17. Colin Jacobson

    Colin Jacobson Producer

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    So you're saying that you were upset they changed the ending when you saw it in 1987 but now prefer the "happy ending"?
     
  18. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    OH! Good to know, thanks!
     
  19. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Steve posted that it was being recalled and then that several stores, including FYE or Hollywood Video, can't remember which, still had it on shelves.
    I rushed to the mall and got 2 copies. They were the only thing I ever bought at those shitty, shitty stores.
    I sold one AT COST to another HTFer who really wanted it, and kept mine. Tho I opened and watched mine. I love the cut ending and the unfinished nature of it. I'm happy that unfinished version didn't make it to the Bluray as the DVD now remains collectable, but will have to see if I like the restored ending...
     
  20. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    I posted about the recall after it appeared on shelves, and after I had reviewed the disc. Going back to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine, I had the disc as early as 1/22/98, probably from my street-date-breaker DVD store. It was released 1/27/1998. I posted about the recall on 2/5/1998. When I heard about the recall, I went to Incredible Universe (Tandy's megastore that later became Fry's) and bought a few, but left some on the shelf. I think I still have a copy in shrinkwrap; except for that and my personal copy, the rest I gave away.
    For grins, here is my review with the recall notice added:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20000819023249/http://www.dvdresource.com/reviews/horrors.shtml
     

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