Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? is a 1971 British horror-thriller feature film directed by Curtis Harrington (Night Tide) and starring Ralph Richardson (Tales from the Crypt), Shelley Winters (Tentacles) and Mark Lester.
Like better-known films such as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, it is one of the many films in the Grande Dame Guignol (aka ‘hag horror’ or ‘psycho biddy’) genre, and is loosely based on the tale of Hansel and Gretel.
Jimmy Sangster (billed as James Sangster), Robert Blees and David D. Osborn co-wrote the screenplay. Other titles that have been used for the film are Gingerbread House (screenplay working title) and simply Who Slew Auntie Roo? (US poster title), while the film tagline was “The hand that rocks the cradle has no flesh on it!”
The working title was changed because of the appearance of the Neil Simon play The Gingerbread Lady and fears of a lawsuit over titular similarity, and the alteration of “Who” to “Whoever” after the poster was drawn up was insisted upon by Harrington. Posters exist with the full-length title, and one of those appears on the DVD cover.
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Optional English Subtitles
Audio Commentary with Film Historian David Del Valle and Film Scholar Nathaniel Bell
“The overblown theatrics of Shelley Winters’ Auntie Roo often border on camp, although they are fitting enough for her character’s delirious state. Director Curtis Harrington instills a playful sense of mystery and suspense that is heightened by Kenneth V. Jones’ mischievous score. The subtle scares and overriding feelings of child-like fantasy are served up with a healthy side of ham by Ms. Winters.” I Like Horror Movies
“The scare scenes would be more effective if they didn’t seem so arbitrary, and the last third of the movie fails to build up the necessary tension or suspense. As it is, what I most enjoy in the movie is seeing some familiar faces such as Ralph Richardson, Hugh Griffith and Lionel Jeffries, all who are quite entertaining in their roles and severely underused. It’s a curiosity, but little more.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings