A couple of classic creature features return to video on Tuesday, but in a form that may seem unfamiliar,
The musical version of Little Shop of Horrors is being offered in a director’s cut (Warner, $14.96 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray) which significantly reworks the ending of the film.
The movie started with a short story, leading into a Roger Corman movie (with Jack Nicholson in a supporting role), then an award-winning off-Broadway musical, the screen musical in 1986 and then a Broadway production as well as local and touring versions. At the center of it all is Seymour, a milquetoast florist (Rick Moranis in the movie musical), and a monstrous, people-eating plant named Audrey II, after a woman Seymour adores.
But here’s where the director’s cut comes in. As first edited, the movie was to end with Audrey II eating the original Audrey (played by Ellen Greene, who had also been in the off-Broadway show) and Seymour; then, Audrey II and its wide-spreading spawn attack the world at large. But, in a note with the Blu-ray set, director Frank Oz said that after seeing the main characters killed, “the early audiences responded with upset and anger. They’d come to care for Seymour and Audrey and wanted them to survive.”
So that ending was scrapped, and a new, happier closing was shot. And that was the end of it — until now, when Warner has restored the deaths of Audrey and Seymour and the plant rampage.
You can compare the two versions in the Blu-ray release, which besides other extras includes the movie in both its earlier, 94-minute form and in the 103-minute director’s cut. (The new DVD has only the director’s cut.) The restored ending is certainly a bigger ending than the previously released one and, to me at least, both funnier and more satisfying. And the movie as a whole remains a brightly colored, tuneful delight.
Moving to another release: The guns are back.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial makes its Blu-ray debut in a 30th-anniversary set (Universal, $34.98) including the film on Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy, and a marvelous, restored print. (A restored cut on standard DVD is also being released, for $19.98).
While the movie about an E.T. and the children who befriend him was considered a classic pretty much from the moment of its release, director Steven Spielberg tinkered with it later, notably by replacing the guns some FBI agents were carrying with walkie-talkies in a 20th-anniversary release.
Even though his friend George Lucas has often messed around with his movies, Spielberg in 2011 publicly regretted the E.T. changes. According to The Projector, he said, “I tried [changing a film] once and lived to regret it. Not because of fan outrage, but because I was disappointed in myself. I got overly sensitive … It was OK for a while, but I realized what I had done was I had robbed people who loved E.T. of their memories.”
So the new release, which includes new and archival extras, went back to the 1982 movie — and put back the guns.
Also of note on Tuesday: Prometheus, what one writer called a “stage-setter” for the Alien films, will be available on DVD (Fox, $29.99); in a combo pack with the Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy ($39.99), and in a combo pack with the 3-D Blu-ray along with the standard Blu-ray, DVD and digital copy ($49.99). And Rock of Ages, the big-screen musical dud with Tom Cruise and Julianne Hough, will be in a Blu-ray/DVD/digital combo (Warner, $35.99) with an “extended edition”; a Blu-ray/digital set ($29.98) and a DVD/digital set ($29.98). Whichever one you choose, it’s a painful viewing experience.
Then there’s A Cat in Paris, the Oscar-nominated animated film (Cinedigm, $29.94 DVD, $39.95 in a Blu-ray/DVD combo), which offers you two ways to hear it. The French film has voice work by the likes of Marcia Gay Harden and Anjelica Huston, but also offers it with the original French-language audio and English subtitles.
Down video road: CBS/Paramount will release a complete-series set of The Fugitive on Oct. 23 with what the studio says is transferred “from the original film negatives and audio.” Some fans complained loudly when previous DVD releases of the series substituted music. The first season of the new version of Dallas will be on DVD on Jan. 8. The classic Sunset Boulevard comes to Blu-ray on Nov. 6.
Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including in the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can reach him at 330-996-3582 or email@example.com.