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What's the Matter with Helen?/Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1971)

Cast: Debbie Reynolds, Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, more...
Director: Curtis Harrington, Curtis Harrington
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Rating:
Studio: MGM
Running Time: 192 min.
Languages: English, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Synopsis
Though it bears more than passing resemblance to his macabre hits Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, this lesser-known outing from screenwriter Henry Farrell takes a more satirical turn, skewering the eccentricities of the Hollywood studio system. The story opens during the advent of talking pictures, where a school for would-be child stars is opened by voice coach Helen Hill (Shelley Winters) and dance instructor Adelle Bruckner (Debbie Reynolds). Haunted by a dark secret -- each of the women's sons was convicted of murder -- Hill and Bruckner are pursued by a cloaked interloper whose incessant snooping leads to a fatal altercation. Suspicion builds between the two until the expected climax, where it is revealed that one of the two women is even more lethal than her homicidal son. Though the film's absurdist tone is a harsh about-face from the deadly deadpan camp of Farrell's Gothic 1960s thrillers, the period flavor is a nice touch, and accomplished director Curtis Harrington frequently achieves the right balance of horror and humor. ~ Cavett Binion, All Movie Guide



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