Released in 1971, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? Is a British Christmas-themed horror movie directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Shelly Winters in the title role. A campy, silly yet sinister movie that is pretty effective thanks to Shelly Winters’ excellent turn.
The first part of the movie sets up her character, Mrs. Rosie Forrest, a.k.a. “Auntie Roo” perfectly. We see her singing lullabies to the mummified remains of her daughter in her huge mansion. Trying to contact the girl using a phony psychic named Mr. Benton (Ralph Richardson) and doting on the kids of a local orphanage.
She is a kind and loving woman in the eyes of these children especially as she throws an annual Christmas party at her mansion. Only the ten best-behaved children are chosen to go which does not include Christopher (Mark Lester) and Katy Coombs (Chloe Franks). The pair are desperate to go to Auntie Roo’s Christmas party but aren’t chosen. However, that doesn’t stop them sneaking into the car that is transporting the kids to the mansion.
Once there, Auntie Roo welcomes them and insists they are allowed to stay partially because Katy bears a striking resemblance to her dead daughter.
The children are lavished with gifts, food and entertainment over the next day but Auntie Roo’s mental state is beginning to deteriorate. Her mood switches on the fly and she begins to obsess over the idea of Katy staying with her permanently. Something Christopher is against. The boy begins to see parallels between Auntie Roo and the witch from the fairy-tale, Hansel and Gretel.
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? is a good horror movie almost completely because of Shelly Winters. Who embraces her demented character and brings her to life. At times she is gloriously cheesy but at others she is sinister and dangerous. As the film reaches its climax it really transforms into ghoulish fun even if you’ll often be groaning at the campy dialogue.
That being said it never really embraces horror which is disappointing. Every time it seems as though we’re really going to get something shocking the film pulls its punches. A shame because the build to these moments are effective most of the time.
If you’re willing to embrace the silliness of the story and Shelly Winters devilish turn, then you’ll certainly find yourself enjoying this Christmas horror!
Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?
The Final Score - 6.5/10