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Audrey II

Funko Pop!
by yo go re

At last it's here! The collectible based on the movie based on the Off-Broadway musical based on the other movie based on the sci-fi story based on the other sci-fi story!

On the twenty-third day of the month of September, in an early year of a decade not too long before our own, the human race suddenly encountered a deadly threat to its very existence. And this terrifying enemy surfaced, as such enemies often do, in the seemingly most innocent and unlikely of places.

In the original Roger Corman Little Shop of Horrors, Audrey Jr (as it was then known) was a cross between a Venus fly-trap and a Butterwort, and had a convoluted origin. As Seymour says, "I got the seeds from a Japanese gardner over on Central Avenue. He found them in with an order he got from a plantation next to a cranberry farm." The 1986 remake was a bit simpler, if more outlandish: like Gizmo, Audrey II was bought from an old Chinese man, a florist who let it go for "a dolla' nintey five," but its origin was actually in outer space, and it came to Earth in a flash of green lightning during a solar eclipse. Sure, whatever. The backstory doesn't matter. We just want a cool scary plant!

The second Little Shop of Horrors was directed by Frank Oz, who, knowing that Audrey II would need to be a complex puppet if it was to have any hope of looking even halfway decent on film, turned to one of his fellow alumni from Jim Henson's Muppet Workshop, Lyle Conway. Conway would be nominated for the Best Visual Effects Oscar for his work... unfortunately, you may recall that 1986 saw another little film that also blended sci-fi and horror and had some pretty impressive special effects work. So he lost. But the design of Audrey II was still memorable, and sticks out even today.

The plant had five basic forms throughout the movie: the baby seedling; the "radio station" plant, small enough to be cradled in someone's arms; the 4.5' "Feed Me," which is potted and sitting on the floor; 8' "Suppertime," large enough to swallow people whole; and the 13' tall "Mean Green Mother," from the finale. This POP! is a compressed version of the middle evolution, which, given that the figure tops out at just over 4½" tall, means that it's in perfect 6" scale - time to bust out that Mattel Vinz Clortho figure! I was expecting one of the oversized figures, like Songbird or the Titanfall robots, but no: standard POP! size. In that, we get the earthenware pot, six vines waving about, five leaves - including the large one that rises up behind Audrey's head - a thick, woody stalk, more leaves and veins plastered against the head, and then the big bulb itself.

The "Feed Me" plant was the first stage where Twoey demonstrated the ability to talk, so naturally the figure has its mouth open, showing its pink tongue - or, pistil, I guess? This is an alien plant that apparently has teeth (44 of them, in this case) and a digestive tract, so who's to say that it doesn't have a tongue as well? Audrey II was voiced by Levi Stubbs, the lead singer of the Four Tops, who actually had to get permission from the rest of the group in order to take on this "solo project." Today that voice is iconic, but at the time, the studio wanted Rodney Dangerfield to re-dub all the lines, which would have made for a much different monster.

The colors are, by necessity, not as detailed on this superdeformed figurine as they were on the human-sized movie prop. The pot is light brown and the vines are a lighter green than the leaves. The tongue is pink, the interior of the mouth purple, and the lips are a tannish yellow. The head itself is light green at the "nose," fading to the same green as the vines as it nears the back, before switching to purple before the leaves wrap around it. There's a chase variant available with a bit of blood splattered on the lips, but it's not really a huge change, and you could probably get the same effect yourself with very little effort.

Back when the Spawn.com message boards were a thing, Little Shop of Horrors was one of the properties we used to beg Todd to put in the Movie Maniacs line: no need to worry about humans, just a box set of the giant evil plant. But while similar calls for Ash and Robocop eventually panned out, Audrey II never did (and pleas to NECA have similarly gone nowhere). But hey, thanks to Funko's POP! Vinyl omnipresence (this is figure #654 in the "Movies" subline) and drive to take over the entire world like some kind of overfed alien plant, we finally have an Audrey II we can call our own.

But whatever they offer you? Don't feed the plants.

-- 10/28/18

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