Requesting a Remake: ‘Little Shop of Horrors’

Have you ever watched an older film, either from your childhood or earlier and thought, “I would love to see this remade, for a new generation to enjoy it and with new talent behind and in front of the camera”?   No?  Okay, it may just be me, but bare with me.

Let me start out by saying it is quite rare for me to actually want a film to be remade, especially anything I loved as a child.  Honestly if they ever remade Monster Squad I would go on an Archer worthy rampage! But that being said, some films, especially from the 70’s and 80’s can easily be ignored by this new generation of teens and young adults, mostly because they are considered marginal cult classics, or perhaps they were just missing that special something to make them an iconic masterpiece. Remaking a film can be a very tricky business, which can easily be mismanaged.  A studio may just want to prey on the previous fanbase and not bother giving us something new to grasp onto, something to really make this new version stand out from the original.   All that being said, if you can get the right talent involved and add something to the original story, then you can come out with something like Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, or Ocean’s Eleven  and True Grit remakes. With all that in mind I present to you a series of articles focusing on films I believe deserve the love and attention of a good, well managed, well written remake, with my desired casting and changes to the script to make a new and fun standout film.

Little Shop of Horrors (1986)


Why remake it?

Technically already a remake of the 1960 Jack Nicholson film, Little Shop of Horrors had ’80s written all over it, from the music to the dialogue, it was pure ’80s camp. I adore this film.  The feel of absurdity, the love story of the geeky guy and the messed up bombshell faced with alien invasion is silly and kitschy, but still wonderfully entertaining. Plus add the brilliant Frank Oz behind the camera and the talent of Steve Martin, Bill Murray, and John Candy all making cameos and you have a cult classic. So, why remake it?

First of all the 1986 version was edited, rewritten, and re-shot, because test audiences didn’t care for the original ending, which was far darker and less family friendly.  However, audiences now could really get behind something darker. Also, although the film was based on the stage musical, a lot of the original songs were not included.  This could beef up the original 94 min film. We are in need of another big movie musical and this would be a great choice, because honestly recently we have seen too many lame attempts.  The ear bleed inducing Rock of Ages comes to mind.

Then there are the overall themes of the film, the concept of an alien invasion, economic troubles and abusive relationships is somewhat appropriate for our current political and social climate. Finally, about a year ago there was a rumor going around that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was looking into possibly remaking this musical, however Hollywood broke my heart when the rumors were proven false.

Desired casting and production choices.

I would hate for this to become some ridiculously over budgeted remake, tons of special effects, set pieces and big name actors that are wholly unnecessary.  Rather it should be kept nice and simple like the original. The alien plant for example must be a practical effect, no glossy digital man- eating ficus, although some digitally altered bits and pieces when needed would be fine.  The key is keeping it real and believable, a nearly impossible task understandably. Next, take on the darker tone of the play, add in the songs, but don’t go Hairspray with it.  Keep the grit and realism; that will allow a modern audience to laugh with the film and not at it.

Okay, ready for the fun stuff? Close your eyes and imagine these people taking on the following roles…

Director/Writer- Joss Whedon


Joss Whedon has grown quite a bit over the past few years, becoming more than just a household name for lovers of the Whedonverse.   Now with his success in the Avengers series, he is becoming so much more.  Whedon has already proven to millions of fans that he can take on any geek territory and we will most likely be fine with it, but I think it is time everyone see what he can do with a big musical. I am a huge fan of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and still pine for a sequel, but I think Whedon doing another absurd silly musical could be just as great. Also can you imagine Whedon’s sense of humor and ability to blend horror and comedy (ala “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) put into this film about love and aliens? I can see only brilliance ahead.

Seymour Krelborn –  Ben Platt or KevinMcHale


The key to a good Seymour is a man who can disappear into the background in any other film, but whose heart, charm and pure like-ability makes him a true star. This is a hard dynamic to pull off well.  Often the geeky guy is still far too attractive to be believably invisible. Platt and McHale have the perfect balance of dorky, like-able and courageous, at least from what we have seen in Pitch Perfect and Glee respectively. Also, Seymour must of course have a voice that can carry a film, however not one that is not believable for his character.  In the 1986 film Morranis was actually quite good at pulling this off. I was lucky enough to see Platt on stage in Book of Mormon when it was in Chicago, and obviously McHale has the chops from what we’ve seen on “Glee.”

Audrey – Megan Hilty

This is a role that seems like it would be easier to fill, a gorgeous if somewhat thick blonde.  Easy enough right? However, the key to Audrey is that we have to feel for her, not hate her.  She needs to be part Marilyn Monroe, part Sandy from Grease in the beginning, the attraction between her and Seymour has to be believable. Ellen Greene did a wonderful job as the original Audrey.  She was waif-like, sweet and squeaky voiced, but there was a deeper soul there, just listen to “Suddenly, Seymour” and you will hopefully hear it. Megan Hilty is a Broadway star turned TV actress,  most recently starring in NBC’s Smash. Hilty has a voice that can range from sweet to deeply soulful, and has the acting to back up that voice.   She could easily take on the broken bombshell of Audrey without making us focus solely on her alone.

Audrey II –  Jesse L. Martin

Audrey II was originally voiced by Levi Stubbs of The Four Tops.   His baritone vocals will always bring back images of that alien plant. So who could possibly bring out that smooth Motown sound mixed with a bit of James Earl Jones’ Vader for the new Audrey II? I honestly had only one choice: Jesse L. Martin. Probably most known for his role on Law and Order, Martin got his start on the stage.  We actually got to see that when he helped bring Rent to the screen in a role he actually originated. Unfortunately, we haven’t gotten to see much from Martin since then, although there are some rumors that he will be in season 2 of “SMASH” and will play Marvin Gaye in an upcoming biopic. Martin’s voice is actually quite similar to Stubbs’ and he has an already wonderfully charismatic sound to him.  He could fill the rolle perfectly.

Orin Scrivello – D.D.S. – Nathan Fillion

This was the first character/actor combination I thought of when starting this article, Fillion just fits into Steve Martin’s shoes so perfectly it is scary. Fillion always seems to be the perfect cocktail of absurdly ridiculous and charmingly witty, with a shot of swagger and a little touch of darkness all rolled in one. He would be absolutely ideal for the evil, sadistic dentist who we absolutely love to hate. Also, although he was fantastic in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog,” Fillion’s musical abilities have yet to grace the big screen.  I believe a film like this would  be a great premiere performance. Plus you can never have a Joss film without some throwback to his past works right?
Mr. Mushnik – John C. Reilly
A harder role to cast as the character can go several directions and is far less iconic than the two stars. The key here is a like-able jerk, the boss and father figure who you love despite him being a cranky and sometimes crazed older man. John C Reilly has proven he can be a song and dance man, yet we haven’t been allowed to see this properly showcased since Chicago in 2002. Reilly can play silly and love-able but I would really like to see what he does with a less well mannered, sweet and cuddly character.  That blend could be quite interesting.

Arthur Denton – Bill Murray

Admittedly this is a tiny role which doesn’t exactly push forward the plot, however the original Arthur Denton was portrayed by Bill Murray which helped push an already funny scene into something quite spectacular. So, why would I ever want anyone else to take on the role?! This is a character which isn’t required to be of any particular age or have any specific look.  It can be anyone, and I was thinking someone like Jason Segel would be a good fit but honestly nothing tops Murray. It would be a great nod back to the original, paying tribute to it and possibly inspiring people to go back and see the original verison.   But really, any time we get a cameo by Bill Murray it’s a good day.

The Ronettes – ???

This group of singers serves as the chorus of the play and film, informing the audience of major plot points.  They speak directly to the audience for almost the entire film, and they could prove to be the hardest to recast. Crystal, Ronnette and Chiffon are vital to the film but must also not be a distraction for the main action.  If this were the early 2000’s, Destiny’s Child would have more than fit the bill, but today it could prove slightly more difficult. What would probably work best is to pull from the talents of the stage, Broadway and off-Broadway, or even You-tube.   Give young up and coming actresses a chance to shine. But what do you think? Who would you choose to be the Greek chorus of Little Shop of Horrors?
If you could remake this film who would you cast?  Also, what other films do you think are deserving of a remake?