Thursday, October 22, 2015

Little Shop of Horrors: Directors Cut to screen in Vancouver (plus links to recent writing)

The Vancity Theatre's Tom Charity asked me today if I'd seen the director's cut of Little Shop of Horrors, and I looked at him blankly.

You might be surprised to discover that I love Little Shop of Horrors. (I'm talking about the 1986 film by Frank Oz, not the original Roger Corman film, which I've never seen). I don't normally show much enthusiasm for musicals, for one thing, unless you count Marat/ Sade. But Little Shop of Horrors is up there with the original, non-African Americanized version of Death at a Funeral as being one of my very favourite Frank Oz movies. It's sick, subversive, funny, inventive, and beautifully designed - it's sort of a period piece, referencing the culture and fashions (and musicals) of the 50's and 60's. If you can forgive some hamminess from Steve Martin (as a sadist with a dream job) and Bill Murray (as his masochistic client), it's even actually pretty restrained, all things considered, telling the story of a loser named Seymour (Rick Moranis) who, in order to win the affections of the girl he loves, Audrey (Ellen Greene) ends up feeding a couple of people to a carnivorous houseplant - it's sort of a leafy deal with the devil. Said plant is actually, as the songs have it, a "mean green mutha from outer space" (whose singing voice happens to be that of Levi Stubbs, of the Four Tops). It's come to earth as part of a plan for world domination, and has played poor Seymour perfectly.
If the above sounds entertaining to you, I guarantee you, it is. If the idea of people singing songs about discovering that they have to nurture their favourite plant with blood - before proceeding to do so - sounds perversely appealing, you need to see this film, if you haven't already. And if you like your musicals to end happily, with love more-or-less winning out over carnivorous botany, the theatrical version of the film will be screening as part of an October 31 matinee (4pm actually) at the Vancity Theatre, ahead of a trippy-sounding documentary about slime molds (The Creeping Garden), an artful Chinese/ Taiwanese/ Hong Kong martial arts movie called The Assassin, directed by the esteemed Hou Hsiao-Hsien; and for the evening's close, John Carpenter's must-see anti-captialist fable They Live. Those without plans for Halloween who like the idea of sitting in the most comfortable theatre in town taking in four great movies in a row should be sure to be there.
But if you want to see THE DIRECTOR'S CUT of Little Shop of Horrors, with its vastly darker, sicker, weirder, and much, much funnier ending - which includes nods to the Ray Harryhausen classic, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, with giant killer plants stalking the streets of New York...  then you need to go to the 10:30 screening on the night of the 30th. I watched it tonight - went right out and bought it, after learning of it from Tom, and ooh, is it a treat. Test audiences in the 1980's decided it was a bummer, and the final 20 minutes were completely rejigged (while salvaging most of the "Mean Green Mutha From Outer Space" sequence, thankfully), but it's a much more daring, playful, ridiculous, and movie-geek-friendly ending (because who doesn't love a good Ray Harryhausen reference?).
More to come on upcoming film and music fare. People following my other writing can read four other things online today: my reviews of DOA's new album, the Binz' new EP, my interview with Dar Williams about her show on Saturday in Vancouver, and my feature on War Baby (playing tomorrow at the Hindenburg; War Baby highly advise you to attend early - get there by 9 - since the openers will be doing some really fun stuff, apparently... which I will not disclose). Suffice it to say, it's been a busy week.

More to come.

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