As every film buff knows, this is the schlock horror movie that later became the hit Broadway musical of the same name. Like the musical, this was never intended to be a scare -- it was done tongue-in-cheek and is really a spoof .
I had heard of this movie, but did not see it until after viewing the musical. What surprised me was the amazing amount of Jewish humor in the original. Mr. Mushnik, the flower shop owner, speaks with a decidely Yiddish accent, and is constantly making puns like "Aloha -- OY!" Then there's Mrs. Shivah (her name refers to a Jewish funeral custom), who is always buying flowers for some relative who died. Never mind that traditional Jewish funerals don't use flowers -- it's a good gag. So is Seymour's hypochodriac mother, who is the exact opposite of the usual Jewish Mother -- she DOESN'T want Seymour to get married, but if he does, he should at least get a girl with a really serious disease, not this healthy Audrey he brings home. The dinner at Mom's is hilarious -- everything she serves is some sort of home remedy. Cough syrup liquers, cod liver oil soup.... kosher, but YECCCCH!!!!
All of this gets lost in the musical rewrite, which went from Yiddish theater mode to Motown. That was funny, too -- but if you are into collecting old Jewish humor, then the original "Little Shop" should definitely be on your shelf. I give it five stars, not because it's a great cinematic acomplishment (it's not!) but because I see it as a part of Jewish-American cultural history. And besides, it's funny!