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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
"Whoever Slew Auntie Roo" is a pleasant time-waster starring everyone's favorite daffy bird, Shelley Winters. In this one, Shelley is an hysterical widow who keeps her long-dead daughter's body in a secret room in her mansion, singing lullabies to it every night. She also holds séances to communicate with the girl's spirit.
The "drama" unfolds after Shelley's annual Christmas party for local orphans yields one little girl who reminds her very much of her now-mummified daughter. The little girl's brother catches on that Shelley is a little daft, but not before they are imprisoned in Shelley's mansion and she goes completely off her rocker.
Yes, it's a "re-imagining" of the Hansel And Gretel fairy tale, and a relatively harmless one. It's more spoofy than spooky, and the story is stretched a little thin. In the tradition of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane", this is one of those predicaments where the whole thing would be over if the victims could just manage to scream bloody murder at the right time. In that way the movie could wear on your nerves quite nicely.
But it's a technically well-made movie, and you could do worse if you're bored and in the mood for something weird. Shelley's always worth a look.
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