Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)

Article #1077 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-25-2004
Posting Date: 7-24-2004
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Featuring Shelley Winters, Mark Lester, Chloe Franks

Two orphans stow away in a car so they can attend a Christmas Party hosted by a woman named Forrest (who prefers to be called Auntie Roo). The woman becomes attached to the girl orphan due to her resemblance to her dead daughter.

The title certainly makes this one sound like it was part of the cycle of horror movies featuring aging actresses that was kicked off with WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE, and the presence of Shelley Winters confirms this. The odd thing about this trend is that the movies were not mere repetitions of each other, and I think this may have something to do with the fact the BABY JANE movie was so unique that it really didn’t lend itself to repetition. This one borrows its story from the Hansel and Gretel fairy tale of all things. It was also directed by Curtis Harrington, and like some of his other horror movies, it is rather offbeat. Unfortunately, he’s never made a movie that totally worked for me, and this one is no exception. I think the problem is that it never really becomes either a full-blooded horror movie or an effective variation on the fairy tale. The scare scenes would be more effective if they didn’t seem so arbitrary, and the last third of the movie fails to build up the necessary tension or suspense. As it is, what I most enjoy in the movie is seeing some familiar faces such as Ralph Richardson, Hugh Griffith and Lionel Jeffries, all who are quite entertaining in their roles and severely underused. It’s a curiosity, but little more.


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