The plot is similar in all three versions. Little Shop of Horrors tells the story of a young florist named Seymour who one day comes across a mysterious plant. Unbeknownst to Seymour, the plant is actually an alien creature from outer space. Seymour names the plant Audrey II after his secret love. The plant begins to grow, and attracts lots of customers to Seymour's shop. Unfortunately, the plant has an odd quirk: it feasts on human blood!
In order to maintain his shop's popularity and win the affections of Audrey, Seymour is forced to secretly kill people and feed them to the increasingly large and cruel Audrey II. [ This is essentially the plot of Faust, reworked into modern times in a flowershop. ]
The original film was intended to be serious, but in the musical version, the storyline is lighthearted and silly, despite some gruesome scenes. The action is punctuated by several songs, most of which have a rock and roll or Motown feel.
In both the stage and film productions, Audrey II comes to life through the work of puppeteers. The film version of the plant was an extremely elaborate creation, and during Audrey II's final stage of growth, had to be operated by over 60 people.
The main difference between the stage and 1986 film versions of Little Shop of Horrors is the endings. The stage version, like the 1960 film, has a sad ending in which Audrey II goes on a rampage and kills everyone, including Seymour and Audrey. This ending was originally filmed for the screen adaptation, but preview audiences found it too depressing, so a new happy ending was created in which Audrey II is killed.
The 1986 movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song for the song, Mean Green Mother from Outer Space. It features Rick Moranis as Seymour, Ellen Greene as Audrey, Steve Martin as a sadistic dentist, and Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops as the voice of Audrey II.
The 1960 version featured a young Jack Nicholson in a small role as one of the dentist's patients.
See also: carnivorous plants