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Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972)

A demented widow lures unsuspecting children into her mansion in a bizarre "Hansel and Gretel" twist.

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(original screen story) (as David Osborn), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Mrs. Forrest
...
Christopher Coombs
...
Katy Coombs
...
Mr. Benton
...
...
Mr. Harrison
...
Miss Henley
Pat Heywood ...
Dr. Mason
...
Clarine
...
Albie
Jackie Cowper ...
Angela Barnes (as Jacqueline Cowper)
Richard Beaumont ...
Peter Brookshire
Charlotte Sayce ...
Katharine Forrest
Marianne Stone ...
Miss Wilcox
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Storyline

This is a retelling of the old tale of Hansel and Gretel, but set in England in the 1920s. To the children and staff at the orphanage, Auntie Roo is a kindly American widow who gives them a lavish Christmas party each year in her mansion, Forrest Grange. In reality, she is a severely disturbed woman, who keeps the mummified remains of her little daughter in a nursery in the attic. One Christmas, her eye falls upon a little girl who reminds her of her daughter and she imprisons her in her attic. Nobody believes her brother, Christopher, when he tells them what has happened, so he goes to rescue her. Written by Mark

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The hand that rocks the cradle has no flesh on it! See more »

Genres:

Horror | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

- Rated PG-13 for some disturbing images and behavior | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 December 1972 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Gingerbread House  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Judy Cornwell's memoirs, Shelley Winters discovered that Cornwell had got good reviews in Wuthering Heights (1970) and demanded Cornwell's role was cut to the bone. See more »

Quotes

Katy Coombs: You said she was going to eat us.
Christopher: She was, later.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Movie Macabre: Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Tit Willow
Written by Arthur Sullivan & W.S. Gilbert
Performed by Shelley Winters
See more »

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User Reviews

A Refreshing Take On The Hansel & Gretel Story
29 December 2002 | by (Kissimmee, FL, USA) – See all my reviews

Who Slew Auntie Roo is still one of the most cleverly constructed films of the 70s.

An interesting and fascinating take on the Hansel and Gretel story.

Mrs. Forrest (Shelley Winters) is a rich widow who had been married to a successful British Magician. He died leaving her his fortune and creepy mansion called "Forrest Grange" Their little 7 year old daughter Katherine died after falling off a banister that she was sliding down.

The film opens with Auntie Roo as she is called by the orphans singing a lullabye to what appears to be a child in a cradle. Auntie Roo quietly steals out after we think the child is asleep. The camera slowly pans to the cradle only to reveal a rotted corpse of a child in a nightgown. This sets the scenario for the film.

Auntie Roo is obviously an eccentric. She has constant seances in an attempt to communicate with her dead daughter. Of course her psychic is in cahoots with the servants who stage the seances.

It is now time for Aunt Roo's annual Christmas Party where 10 lucky children from the local orphanage are selected to attend an overnight holiday party at Forrest Grange. Christopher and Katy Coombs, a brother and sister are not selected, but stow away in the back of the car. Auntie Roo sees a resemblance in Katy to her dead daughter Katherine...and of course the movie takes off from here. The children see Auntie Roo as the witch in Hansel and Gretel...and Forrest Grange is the Gingerbread House. I won't give away any more of the plot, but the psychological games between the children and Auntie Roo as their terror mounts makes for an extremely entertaining film.

Aside from Shelley Winter's bravura performance, there are also strong contributions from Sir Ralph Richardson as her psychic; Rosemary Crutchley as the director of the orphanage, Mark Lester (of Oliver fame) as Christopher. The art and set direction are marvelous along with excellent camera work and lighting.

This film makes for a different and offbeat Christmas movie or just a plain "fun" movie to watch anytime!


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