Bringing Horror back to Little Shop
VFXW: That makes sense, since they’re different plants and offshoots of the original. Regarding the club scene you mentioned earlier, would you have gone ahead with the release if you hadn’t found it, or delayed the release date so you could continue searching?
KG: I have a feeling, though of course I’d want David and Frank’s blessing on it, but I guess we’d have had to put the Blu-Ray out without it. You don’t want to hold it up because of one shot, but I felt that A) we had to stick to Gospel and B) people saw on YouTube, for example, some of this black and white footage.
To be truthful, there were multiple versions in black and white. In other words, as the film was progressing, like any other movie, there were different versions. I wanted to be sure that we’d use the definitive last version that they were looking at. So we went through every black and white piece we could find and checked the dates to them, because they did preview screenings to see how it would do in front of an audience. We made sure we went to the last version they were working on before they stopped going that direction and changed it to the happy ending.
VFXW: There are some minor differences between the footage on YouTube and this new restored ending. For example, at the very start of the disaster sequence, you see the three-woman chorus in front of the American flag. In the Blu-Ray version, they’re rising up on a platform in front of the flag and in the work-print, they’re already in front of it and walking towards the camera in-step. Were there multiple takes you could choose from?
KG: There were multiple takes and again, we tried to go to the last version they used. In that particular case, the take that was in the black and white version we could not find, but we found the take that we used, which was in one of the other black and whites and worked just as well. The performances were just as good and the tracks sounded great, so since it had been from one of the other cuts of the film and it was complete and clean, we didn’t see any reason not to use it.
VFXW: How many different black and white versions were there of that original ending, because you said you found several…?
KG: Oh my. I don’t know how many there actually were, I can just tell you how many we found. (Pauses) We found four versions of different parts of the film. Now, I don’t want any misconceptions that there are four versions of that ending! When I say “four versions”, they would have cut the scene a little differently and then tried that in the mix. Then the next go-around, they would change that scene a little bit but bring the first one back to the way they had it originally. It’s that kind of scenario. It’s not like we have four more versions of that ending waiting to be seen!
VFXW: In the very last shot of the film, an Audrey II plant ascends the Statue of Liberty and wraps its roots around her head. It’s a chilling climax and especially fantastic to behold in color. I did notice, though, that in the Blu-Ray the shot seems to be a little shorter in length. The words “The End” are overlaid rather quickly, whereas in the work-print the camera lingers for a while before cutting to “The End”. Was there a need to trim that final shot down a bit for soundtrack reasons, perhaps?
KG: If I remember correctly, I think that’s what it was, yeah. Again you have to remember that the black and white dupe was a temp. The track that everyone heard online was never finished or properly mixed. I’ll give you an example: remember when Seymour confronts the plant and the plant decides to tell him who’s boss and busts out of his pot? Well, the effects in there originally had this little “dink, dink” sound. He has these massive roots coming out and all you hear is this little “dink”! So you have to keep that in perspective. We had to massage it so it worked well with the music and sound effects and ultimately make it complete.
VFXW: Which of those shots in the destruction sequence was the most difficult for you?
KG: One was the one I mentioned, with the guy running up on the fire escape, because it kept disappearing in the shot and became almost translucent. The other was when one of the monsters busts through the movie marquee. If you look in the background you see a motorcycle that goes towards the left, just in front of the theatre. There were wires and stuff, so we did wire removal, not that that’s so difficult, but then we added more dirt and texture and smoke to help that shot along, so those were the two challenging ones. The other one that was kind of difficult was the monster on the Brooklyn Bridge.