Concept model of Audrey II built by Lyle Conway. Notice the saliva bubbles on the tongue and vines.
This might have earned Little Shop an "R"!
Seymour wrestles with his conscience in the deleted dream sequence from "The Meek Shall Inherit." A couple of brief clips from this scene appear in the bloopers & out-takes montage on the DVD. There are more photos available that I have yet to scan, including images of Seymour turning into a plant! The full song can be heard on the soundtrack album. Let's hope this shows up on DVD sometime! (Topps trading cards scans courtesy of Morgan Leger.)
A dying Audrey sings the "Somewhere That's Green" reprise.
Seymour prepares to sacrifice Audrey. This is apparently a rehearsal shot, as the plant's trap is closed, whereas in the footage seen on the DVD, it is open at this point.
Audrey II says "bye bye" to poor Seymour.
The chorus girls foretell America's doom.
Audrey II stomps down Fifth Avenue. Notice the little Yellow Cab in the lower-right. In the sequence as seen on the DVD, the plant kicks this out of the way and it goes flying! You can just barely see a second Audrey II behind the first one.
The model sequences were filmed at high speed, so when projected normally they'd go more slowly and have a sense of weight and scale. This meant that the plant movements had to be very fast, with some scenes taking mere seconds. This is the opposite of how the full-sized plants were filmed. They were performed slowly, while the camera also filmed at a slower rate which made everything "real time" when projected normally.
Be sure to click on the above image for a larger size - the level of detail in the model buildings is simply stunning.
Check out the little car being waved around in the plant's tentacle!
The sets created by miniature effects supervisor Richard Conway were truly incredible, with more detail than I've ever seen in a miniatures sequence, including walls that crumbled into individual bricks as the plants crashed through. Here, a plant demolishes a theater showing Jason & the Argonauts, a landmark fantasy film with stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. The effects for this sequence, however, were all computer-controlled movements, not stop-motion.
Brooklyn Bridge - Shot #1 (Between this film, Cloverfield and I Am Legend, Hollywood has not been kind to the Brooklyn Bridge!)
Brooklyn Bridge - Shot #2 (Notice a 2nd plant poking into the frame in the lower left.)
Brooklyn Bridge - Shot #3 (I believe this shot demonstrates the most accurate color balance out of the three Bridge images presented here.)
The final shots of the "Don't Feed the Plants" sequence showed plants clinging to the Statue of Liberty. You can see the tendrils of a second plant sitting on the Statue's shoulder. Below, I added a fiery background in PhotoShop.
The only model footage in the final film is the cityscape behind Steve Martin in the opening bars of "Dentist!"
Fun fact - Richard Conway filmed a great model sequence featuring another giant, talking, carnivorous plant for a 1976 episode of Doctor Who. The tentacled plant-creature attacks a very detailed model of an English country house in "The Seeds of Doom," before meeting its inevitable fate at the hands of Tom Baker. Of course!
Marvel Comics artist Mike Ploog storyboarded all the Audrey II sequences, allowing the film-makers to get a clear idea of what puppets and what sets would be needed for each angle. These "Mean Green Mother" panels are the only storyboards I've ever seen - I got them on eBay from one of the original puppeteers. That's a story for another time, however. Needless to say, I would love to see these presented on a re-release DVD!
Update, February 2012: A few storyboard panels (for the sequence where Audrey is pulled from the plant's mouth after "Suppertime II") are published in Modern Masters, and I recently found this excellent concept piece titled "You ate the only thing I ever loved!" with a very different plant design. Another different plant, much more "EC Comics" style, is on Ploog's own website.
The storyboards below I still have never seen anywhere!