Little Shop of Horrors (film) - Wikipedia
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If Little Shop of Horrors was green-lit today, its leafy, extraterrestrial villain would probably be computer-animated. Oz's biggest challenge was creating the plant itself. Named Audrey II, it not only grows from a sapling to a giant over the course of the film, but it also sings, shimmies, and eats people alive.
Technicians built six animatronic flytraps of varying sizes for the film. The smallest was a mere 4 inches tall and the largest stood over 12 feet in height.
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Used toward the climax of the movie, it required as many as 60 human operators. In the song, Audrey—a downtrodden slum-dweller—yearns for the greener pastures of suburbia.
No doubt a certain sea princess could relate. On the DVD commentary, Oz mentions that Martin had previously tried opening it by hand only to have the glass unexpectedly shatter, cutting his palm. As Oz explains at 4: Whenever Rick Moranis who played Seymour Krelborn or one of the other actors sang side-by-side with the monster, he or she was really lip-syncing in slow motion. The former SNL cast member took the gig, but asked if he could go off-script.
Written specifically for the film by Ashman and Menken, this brassy number has power-crazed Audrey II drop a few expletives. Obviously, some editing was needed. The odd sequence ultimately landed on the cutting room floor. While developing the mouth of the plant for the dialogue scenes and musical numbers, Oz, Conway and his crew struggled to figure out how to make the plant move convincingly. When the film ran backwards or forward at a faster than normal speed, the footage looked more convincing and lifelike.
They realized they could film the puppet at a slower speed, making it appear to move faster when played back at normal speed. We then went 'holy cow, look at that. We can do it.
Levi Stubbs' recordings were filtered through a harmonizer when slowed down so that they were coherent for Moranis or Ellen Greene. There are no blue screens or opticals involved in any of Audrey II's scenes, with the exception of the reshot ending where the plant is electrocuted, designed by Visual Effects supervisor Bran Ferren, and in some shots during the rampage in the original ending.
The plant was made in six different stages of growth and there were three different versions of Mushnik's shop, making it possible for two units to work with different sized plants at the same time.
Each of the talking plants had to be cleaned, re-painted and patched up at the end of each shooting day, which would take up to three hours depending on the size. The "Suppertime" number uses two different sizes of Audrey II. When the plant is singing all alone in the shop, it is actually a smaller size: The full size one that is seen to interact with Seymour and Mushnik was not provided with lip movement, but was built to swallow Mushnik's mechanical legs.
During Audrey II's final stage of growth, 60 technicians were necessary to operate the one-ton puppet. The visual effects were completed for the Director's Cut of the film. Oz and Ashman wanted to retain the ending of the musical where Seymour and Audrey die and the plant succeeds and takes over the city of New York, but Geffen was actually against it. The model department was supervised by Richard Conway, known for his model work on Flash Gordon and Brazil.
He created the bridge, the buildings, several Audrey IIs and created all of it, all on tabletop. It's all old-fashioned, tabletop animation"  [although no stop motion animation was used in the film or in the ending].
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Oz said, "For every musical number, there was applause, they loved it, it was just fantastic It was awful and the cards were just awful. You have to have a 55 percent "recommend" to really be released and we got a It was a complete disaster.
Geffen agreed to this, but they received the same negative reaction as before. They're gone and so the audience lost the people they loved, as opposed to the theater audience where they knew the two people who played Audrey and Seymour were still alive.
They loved those people, and they hated us for it.
No One Makes It Out Alive – GUTS
The musical number "Mean Green Mother from Outer Space" was left mostly intact from the original cut, with new shots of Audrey observing from a window added in. A brief sequence from the "Mean Green Mother" number was also removed in which Seymour fires his revolver at Audrey II, only to discover that the bullets ricochet harmlessly off of the plant. This happy ending is made somewhat ambiguous, however, with a final shot of a smiling Audrey II bud in Seymour and Audrey's front yard.
Tisha Campbell was unavailable for the final appearance of the chorus girls in the yard and was replaced with a lookalike seen only from the waist down.
It was very dissatisfying for both of us that we couldn't do what we wanted. So creatively, no, it didn't satisfy us and being true to the story. But we also understood the realities that they couldn't release the movie if we had that ending.
This scene was re-shot and the reprise was placed later in the new ending. Before it was a point where they hated it so much, Warner probably wouldn't even release the movie," Oz said.