One of my favourite films is, I’m happy to admit, the 1986 musical version of Corman’s 1960 original, Little Shop of Horrors. Love the performances, love the choreography, love the music, love Audrey II in all his increasingly nasty glory.
As you probably know, it was based on a Broadway musical and caused some controversy when it turned the original’s “dark” ending into a “happy” one. Initially, however, the “dark” ending was filmed; it followed more closely on the stage play and it was test audience reaction that seems to lie at the heart of the decision to let both Seymour and Audrey survive the experience. The theatrical ending has, indeed, always seemed a little out of place and a little truncated — but frankly, I loved the characters so much, I’m happy to have them survive to live on in their artificial suburban paradise, as ironic as that may be. The final smirk of the “baby” Audrey II in their perfect garden is priceless.
I’ve always been curious in regards to the original ending but hadn’t seen it until recently. When I did, what surprised me was that it adds significantly to the film’s run-time — and culminates in an affectionate recreation of a Godzilla-like rampage. The original ending, it seems, was not only darker in that it killed off the two leads, but was darker because of the full-on apocalyptic invasion that it depicts.
So here, below, is that original ending, in three parts. It’s in black-and-white and is a rough-cut (because apparently the colour negatives were destroyed in a fire), but hey, watch it! It’s something else. If you’re a giant monster fan, and impatient, skip straight to Part 3. That’s where the kaiju action happens.
Which do I prefer? Hard to say really? The sentimentalist in me likes the theatrical one — but the kaiju fan in me really wants the original instead!
Addendum: For more on the story behind the original ending and its history, see this excellent DVD Savant article.