Monday, August 30, 2010

Little Shop Of Horrors alternate ending

Ye be warned, here there be all kinds of spoilers.

Those of you who know me know I am prone to obsession. Thankfully, never to the point of stalking or other illegal behavior, but obsession nonetheless. I devour information like delicious, nutritious candy bars. And one of my obsessions is Little Shop Of Horrors.
The original 1960 Roger Corman film was written in two weeks and filmed in two days on the sets of another movie for no greater reason than to prove that he could. It was a very silly movie, best known for being Jack Nicholson's first (it's hard to find a copy that doesn't mention that; he's even all over the cover art of a lot of copies. He's in one scene) and for being the basis of the stage musical of the same name.
In 1986 a filmed version of the musical was released, directed by Frank Oz and starring Rick Moranis and Ellen Greene, the latter of whom originated her role off-Broadway.
I could go on for days and days about the history of the movie, the play and the other movie. Like I said, Little Shop is one of my obsessions and I devour information about it like Audrey II devours blood.
Here's a quick synopsis of how each version of Little Shop Of Horrors ends:
Original Film: Audrey Jr. has eaten a homeless man, a dentist, a robber and a streetwalker. Seymour decides the plant has ruined his life and jumps into it, armed with a knife, and is promptly eaten. The last shot of the movie is a blossom opening up, revealing Seymour's face, which cries "I didn't mean it!"
Stage Musical: Audrey II has eaten a dentist, Mushnik and Audrey. Seymour decides the plant has ruined his life and jumps into it, armed with a knife, and is promptly eaten. A businessman and the Greek chorus take cuttings of the plant and explain that Audrey IIs have taken over the world (as vines drop over the audience! Kick ass!) and warn us not to feed the plants.
Movie Musical: Audrey II has eaten a dentist and Mushnik and has attempted to eat Audrey. Seymour decides the plant has ruined his life and electrocutes her ass to death. He and Audrey get married and go to live Somewhere That's Green while a little Audrey II bud smirks at us from the vines growing on their fence (which seems like an "Or is it?" ending until you realize there's no way they're going to fall for that again).
As far as I'm concerned, each ending is completely appropriate for whatever medium it happens to be. The original is a low budget dark comedy and the ending reflects that. The stage musical is a stage musical, many of which have downer endings and need a big closing number. The movie musical is a spoof on 1950s movie musicals, and those tended to have happy endings.
But it wasn't how the movie originally ended. The movie musical's original ending was much closer to the ending of the stage musical: Audrey II wins and takes over the world.
Shelby found a copy online for me, ripped right from the original recalled version of the DVD. The original ending was about 23 minutes long and ... wow. Holy crap. It was in black and white and it didn't have all the sound effects and music it would have had if it'd been in the movie but ... damn.
I liked it, certainly, but I think I wouldn't have if:
1) I weren't obsessed
2) I hadn't seen the released version with the happy ending first
3) they had actually kept this ending
Which isn't necessarily fair. According to what I've read, it's Frank Oz's preferred ending, as well as members of the cast, but (I hate to admit it, because I hate the whole concept of test audiences and changing one's work to suit what "the public" wants) I can completely see why test audiences hated it and, in spite of being over budget, they had to film a whole new ending.
Because what Frank Oz has said about it is right: you really love and care about these characters, and to have them just die and the plant wins, and it's a movie so there's no curtain calls, it's pretty hard to take.
But let's back up, shall we?
The alternate ending starts with Audrey II tricking Audrey into watering her, at which point she (the plant) attempts to devour her (the person). Seymour bursts in and rescues his lady love from the jaws of the monster. This is all in the final version of the movie.
Outside, Audrey collapses and tells Seymour that she's going to die and that she wants him to give her to the plant, so the plant will get bigger and Seymour will become more rich and famous; also because if she's in the plant then she's part of the plant and, not only will they be together, but she'll finally be Somewhere That's Green. She sings a heartbreaking reprise of the song and dies.
Seymour takes her inside and feeds her to Audrey II, then runs outside and to the roof of Audrey's apartment building to leap off and kill himself (which would defeat the purpose of her request to be fed to the plant, but whatever). Before Seymour can jump, though, a salesman comes to him and attempts to make a deal to take cuttings of the plant and marketing them, putting Audrey IIs in every home in America. Seymour suddenly figures out what the plant's been up to all along and goes to confront her. This part's in the final movie, too, as is the plant's big number, Mean Green Mother From Outer Space (it was written specifically for the movie; there was no way they could leave it out).
As the song ends, however, rather than Seymour grabbing exposed wires and electrocuting the bitch, Audrey II pulls the building down, fishes Seymour from the rubble and, in an epic and painfully slow manner, raises him into the air with her vines and eats him, spitting out his shattered glasses. Fade to black.
Then the Greek chorus shows up to sing their song explaining how similar events had been going on all over the country. Shots are shown of shoppers in Cabbage Patch Kids style frenzies buying Audrey II plantlets. A couple lie in bed and watch as Audrey IIs eat "Cleveland and Des Moines and Peoria and New York," and the movie ends with three or four giant Audrey IIs running rampant in New York City. One of them climbs the Statue Of Liberty and the ending card reads "The End?!" A giant Audrey II head rips through and the camera (and, effectively, the audience) goes straight into her mouth.
As is the case with most things that disturb me on some level that I can't define, I'm completely obsessed with this new revelation that is the original ending. I love it but I hate it. It's fascinating and deeply upsetting. It's almost exactly the same as the ending of the play but infinitely more dramatic and upsetting.
Maybe it's the fact that they can linger on things. When Audrey dies and Seymour feeds her to Audrey II, it's almost in slow motion. The camera lingers on Audrey disappearing into the plant, on Seymour watching her go. It's painful.
And the last sequence was ... I'm starting to wonder if J.J. Abrams ever saw this ending. Maybe it wasn't Godzilla he was inspired by, because I felt like I was watching Cloverfield again, but with background music and several monsters. It was that level of sort of inescapable horror. "Holy shit, this really is the end of the world."
I've wanted to see the original ending ever since I knew there was an original ending (which was, I'd say, probably my freshman year of high school) and now I'm very glad I have. It was one of the few instances of wanting to see something for years and have it actually surpass my expectations of it. I had no idea it would upset me as much as it did.
I loved it but I hated it. There's no other way to describe it. It was perfect. It was exactly what it should have been. It's the best work of Frank Oz's directing career. And I'm one hundred perecent glad it's not the ending in the final cut of the movie.
What I would like, though, is a DVD with the option to watch the movie with either the happy ending or the original ending. Apparently David Geffen is the only person on the planet with a color copy of the original ending (the masters were destroyed in a fire a couple decades ago) and I get the feeling that he won't cough up his copy for DVD release, since he's the one who recalled the original DVDs with the alternate ending in the first place.

End of line.

Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs

If I had known, back when this movie came out, that it was by the guys who did Clone High, I would have gone to see it in the theaters. But nobody bothered to mention that (which is understandable; Clone High wasn't all that popular) and it wasn't advertised very well. That is to say, the previews didn't make the movie look all that great so they overcompensated by showing a preview every five minutes.
So I was not interested in Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs.
Until Shelby insisted that it was very funny and I should watch it.
Shelby does not steer me wrong.
Shelby is an animation nerd and most of the cartoons of which I am a fan (Clone High included) are Shelby's fault. She tends to know what my tastes are and she doesn't make me watch absolutely all cartoons. When she's adamant that I watch something, it's for good reason (she's the one who convinced me to give Metalocalypse a second try, and now look at me).
Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs is great. It's funny, the characters are people you actually care about and it has an actual story, something the book on which the movie is based does not have. (That was the other reason I didn't want to see the movie when it came out; I didn't see how it could have a plot.)
I laughed a lot through the whole movie, but the two moments that made me laugh hardest were the kind of moments of absurdity that pretty much define my sense of humor.
The First: The townspeople wake up to find their city covered in ice cream (it's your average cartoon snow day scene, but more colorful). There's an overhead shot of kids playing in a field of neopolitan. The vanilla and chocolate stripes are crowded with kids. There's only one kid in the strawberry section of the field and he announces "I like strawberry best!" Don't know why it's funny, but it is.
The Second: When the food weather machine starts going crazy and the hero tries to shut it down, the villain of the piece shows up to thwart him, yelling "Nice to beet you!" and throwing a root vegetable at the hero. As the hero dives out of the way he shouts back "That's a radish!"
The whole movie is filled with little moments that make me happy. It was a pleasant surprise.
And I totally want spray on shoes.

End of line.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fright Night

Charley Brewster is living next door to a vampire, whose bad side he gets on pretty much immediately (by doing dumb stuff by calling the cops and telling them "Hey, my neighbor is a vampire"). Now he needs the help of his girlfriend, best friend and favorite creature feature TV host to stop the vampire from killing him.
Let's talk for a moment about vampires, shall we? The definition of vampire has changed a lot over the years. I still consider Dracula the definitive vampire, but these days a lot of people are convinced that Glitter People are vampires, too. They're not. Yes, vampires can exist in sunlight (holy shit, Stephanie Meyer was actually right about something?) but they don't "sparkle like diamonds" or whatever. They just get weak. Romantic adaptations of Dracula (including that godawful "official sequel" The Undead, which was so bad I turned temporarily cross eyed) make people forget that, wait a minute, the dude's a monster. He's ratlike and soulless and will kill you for no good reason other than that you're delicious.
So, watching Fright Night, at first I thought Chris Sarandon was the weirdest choice to play the vampire. I mean, you can't look at the guy and not think Prince Humperdink.
Holy crap, he's the perfect vampire! I mean, you can't look at the guy and not think Prince Humperdink. He's repulsive but still has a weirdly interesting charm. You hate him, but you can't stop watching him. Just like a freakin' vampire is supposed to be! It's brilliant casting! (Never mind that Fright Night came out before The Princess Bride; that blows no holes through my theory because Chris Sarandon is smarmy either way.)
The other think I really liked about Fright Night is it had no problem making their vampires horrible looking. Disgusting and fanged and red eyed and warp faced. There's one lady vampire in the movie who is pure High Octane Nightmare Fuel. I blame her entirely for the fact that I had a hard time falling asleep last night.
That's the other thing that's really cool about Fright Night: it's flippin' creepy. When it was over the house was completely dark and I had second thoughts about walking out to the kitchen for a drink of water. I mean, what if Vampire Chris Sarandon was in there? Yaugh!!!
The only thing that would've been worse than that: if Prince Humperdink were in my kitchen. I hate that guy. (At least he's a coward and easy to deal with.)

SPOILER: I have a theory that, in horror movies, if a character is named Jerry, he will be dead by the end of the movie. Fright Night supports that theory. Apparently even villains named Jerry are not safe from the Dead Jerry Clause.

End of line.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

It's half reality, half fantasy, completely awesome.
It's beautiful, vague, confusing, disturbing, amazing and I don't understand why it didn't win every award ever.
I don't even know what to say about it.

End of line.


Not House the television show (which I think is actually called House MD) and not House the William Katt movie from the 1980s (which I saw when I was in high school; it didn't live up to its tagline "Ding dong, you're dead"). This is yet another House.
I like to call it House Of 1000 Things Borrowed From House Of 1000 Corpses. You see, the movie starts out with a bickering couple driving down some back roads in some southern state or another. They get directions from a local (SPOILER: who seems trustworthy to the characters even though everyone in the audience knows better) which take them down a not-often-used road. There their tire "mysteriously" blows out. They don't have a spare and it's raining, so they take refuge in the nearest giant, creepy house and meet another stranded couple. Matriarchal Leslie Easterbrook (okay, so she wasn't in House Of 1000 Corpses, but she did take over the Mother Firefly role in The Devil's Rejects, so I'm going to allow it) ropes the two couples into staying for dinner, which is when Bill Moseley makes a sudden entrance and scares the two couples. Later in the movie, the creepy son-of-the-house dresses one of the women up like a dolly.
Other than those blatant similarities to my favorite movie of all time, House was really pretty interesting. It was bloodless and full of a lot of religious stuff that I didn't really get (about a year ago I read an article in Rue Morgue about Christian horror movies, and House was mentioned, so it was pretty much a given that there was going to be religious stuff that I didn't really get), but I liked the way it was shot and there was one scene that was rather moving.
What I didn't like was the ending. It should have ended at a certain point, but it kept going and defeated what I thought the message of the movie was going to be.
Oh well, whatever, it was pretty good anyway. It needed more Bill Moseley (most movies do), some of the twists were kind of "Well, duh" and I'm generally pretty uncomfortable with religious overtones in my movies, but this one was good enough that I didn't mind.

End of line.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled

You know how I really liked Wishmaster? How I thought it was clever and interesting and underrated? Wishmaster: The Prophecy Fulfilled is the opposite of that.
Admittedly, it's the fourth Wishmaster movie, so it's almost guaranteed to be inferior to the original. But it was just such a bummer to see the series fall so far. This was almost like a Lifetime Original Movie.
Admittedly, I didn't see Wishmasters 2 and 3; the series may have deteriorated gradually and making the leap from 1 to 4 is what made the change in quality so obvious.
Again the movie starts with explanation: If you wake up a Djinn you get three wishes, and when the third wish is granted all the Djinn's demon buddies take over the world and have a demon party.
The Waker (as they call her) in this movie is Lisa, whose boyfriend decided he didn't love her anymore when he became paraplegic and refuses to believe that she still loves him ('cause she couldn't possibly love a wheelchair dude). Meanwhile, their lawyer has a thing for Lisa, but the Djinn kills him and steals his face pretty much immediately, so we don't get to see much of him.
Well, we do, but he's an evil genie now. And he's just not convincing as the Djinn. When the first movie's genie guy got himself a human face he was still creepy and interesting, and he still had his Djinn voice. This guy loses the Djinn voice when he takes human form, and he's completely uninteresting and not the least bit scary or menacing. He's just some yuppie guy who happens to have magic powers. Yawn.
So Lisa makes three wishes, but the third one is a wish the Djinn can't grant for her because it has to do with her being in love, and human love cannot be faked or whatever (apparently the Djinn work under the same book of Da Rules as The Fairly Odd Parents).
So the Djinn's demon buddies are getting annoyed that they're not free even though three wishes have been made, and there's a Hunter who wants to kill Lisa to guarantee her third wish is never granted, therefore preventing the apocolypse.
It sounds way more interesting than it actually was.

End of line.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Room

Everybody loves Johnny. Johnny's a great guy. Denny loves Johnny, Johnny's best friend Mark loves Johnny, Lisa's mother Claudette loves Johnny, Michelle loves Johnny, Mike loves Johnny... In fact, the only person in the world who doesn't love Johnny is his fiance Lisa.
You know how I know this? I saw The Room. The Room is basically a series of scenes that were not proofread or put together with any logic in mind, but are instead various arrangements of the following lines:

Lisa: I don't love Johnny anymore. I love Mark.

Claudette: You should marry Johnny. He makes good money and can provide for you.

Mark: Johnny's my best friend. [or] I'm Johnny's best friend.

Being Johnny's best friend doesn't stop him from having sex with Johnny's fiance three or four times through the course of the movie, though.
Meanwhile, what's Johnny doing? As far as I can tell he's walking around San Francisco, buying flowers for Lisa, having long talks with his friends about nothing and being a generally great guy. (Did I mention the guy who plays Johnny also wrote, produced and directed this movie?)
He also spends a lot of time having a funny accent and putting emphasis on the wrong words. ("I did not hit her. It's not true. It's BULLshit. I did not hit her. I did NAAAHHHT. Oh, hi Mark." That's right, most of that line was directed at nobody. He was just talkin'.)
My favorite scene in the whole movie is when Denny (an orphan kid who's now in college that Johnny is supporting out of the goodness of his heart because he's such a great guy) stops by just after Lisa has ordered a pizza. The scene goes something like this:

Lisa: Hi Denny. I can't talk, I'm really busy. Do you want something to drink?
Denny: No, I wanted to talk to Johnny.
Lisa: He's not here right now but he should be back soon. You can wait for him if you want.
Denny: No, I have to leave.

Actually, I think that may be more coherent than what's in the movie.
The other really "brilliant" scene is the flower shop scene. (Linking to it may end in my being forced to take this review down, much like The Nostalgia Critic was when he reviewed The Room, but I'm willing to take that risk. By the way, the Nostalgia Critic's review of The Room is still on Youtube (I guess he only had to take it off his official site) and is really funny; I recommend it.)
The Room was fun to watch once (emphasis on "once") and make fun of. Apparently it's become quite the midnight movie among ironic hipsters, but I just don't think I'm cynical enough for that.

End of line, haa?