Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

“You children don’t want to leave here! You have a home here — forever!”

A demented widow (Shelly Winters) whose young daughter died in an accident many years earlier entices a young orphan (Chloe Franks) to come live with her in her mansion — but Franks’ brother (Mark Lester) believes Winters is a witch, and is determined to rescue Franks (and himself) from her clutches.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Horror
  • Orphans
  • Ralph Richardson Films
  • Shelley Winters Films
  • Widows and Widowers

Following in the dubious footsteps of What’s the Matter With Helen? (1971), Who Slew Auntie Roo? inexplicably gives away a major spoiler in its very title — an inauspicious sign for what amounts to a disappointing entry in the Grande Dame Guignol (or “Psycho Biddy”) horror subgenre (kicked off by Robert Aldrich’s classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?). The primary problem with … Auntie Roo is that Winters’ deeply troubled character is pitiable rather than fearful, given that we see early on how her daughter died in a tragic incident (rather than, say, being murdered); we therefore never really believe the two orphans are in serious danger. Instead, Lester — who apparently is convinced he’s trapped in the story “Hansel and Gretel” — emerges as the unlikely villain of the piece, convincing his sister that “Auntie Roo” is going to stuff them and eat them for dinner.

Meanwhile, other plot elements — such as the presence of Winters’ manipulative butler (Michael Gothard) working in cahoots with a sham medium (Ralph Richardson) to convince Winters her daughter is communicating with her — are poorly resolved.

Winters tries hard with the material she’s given, but this one is only must-see for her diehard fans.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some campily creepy moments
  • Fine sets

Must See?
No; feel free to skip this one.


One thought on “Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

  1. Not a must. This is one confused mess.

    A late entry in the unfortunately labeled “hag film” series. All starts ominously enough with a shocking opener, followed by bombastic music for the credits. But thereafter things slow to a barely eventful, repetitive and talky crawl. The ‘tension’, such as it is, soon points to not much being afoot.

    The result – running off in various, desperate directions – is especially frustrating considering the casting of respectable British stars Richardson, Hugh Griffith, Lionel Jeffries and Pat Heywood; all sadly under-used.

    In the title role, Winters is on automatic pilot and strained.

    What promises to have cult value is a considerable yawn.

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