HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  What's the Matter with Helen? Face The Music And Dance
Year: 1971
Director: Curtis Harrington
Stars: Debbie Reynolds, Shelley Winters, Dennis Weaver, Micheál MacLiammóir, Agnes Moorehead, Samee Lee Jones, Helene Winston, Yvette Vickers, Timothy Carey, Robbi Morgan
Genre: HorrorBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In the 1930s a sensational murder case results in two young men being put behind bars for life, but their mothers, Adelle (Debbie Reynolds) and Helen (Shelley Winters) become the victims of the public's anger and decide to move to California to open a talent school for little girls. All goes well until Helen believes that the threatening phonecalls they experienced back in their home town are starting again - could someone be out for revenge, or is the pressure getting to Helen?

This melodramatic Hollywood shocker was written by Henry Farrell, the author of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and like that film features two ageing stars in a psychological horror plot. While it doesn't reach the heights of Baby Jane, lacking the resonance and leaning too heavily on its murder-flavoured storyline, it is one of those films that plays on the sick side of camp, with musical numbers, tap dancing little girls, dolls and a look at the less glamorous areas of showbiz.

The trials of motherhood weigh heavily on the two lead characters, both women having to share the guilt of their sons' inability to reciprocate their love for them, and feeling that they've let them down somehow, rather than the other way around. Helen actually has more guilt about her son hating her for accidentally killing her own husband in a farming accident than for the act itself, and sees this as the reason he and Adelle's son have carried out the murder - to get back at their mothers.

All the way through the drama the shy, prim Helen shows signs of not being quite right in the head: maybe it's the way she holds sharp implements like scissors, or perhaps it's her religious obsession (she listens to firebrand preachers on the radio). Whatever, this gives us such darkly humorous scenes as the one where Adelle and her pupils are putting on a show for the talent scouts and have to nervously smile their way through a routine that is being undercut by Helen's offstage screams.

Adelle and the pushy mothers of the little girls are all looking for an easy route to success: the mothers through their children turning into the next Shirley Temple, and Adelle through marrying a rich millionaire (Dennis Weaver) who has taken an interest in her. But Helen, a symbol of her previous life, holds Adelle back all the time and ultimately ruins her chances of putting her past behind her. Finally, if it ends the way you expect, at least the film provides enough thrills and sly chuckles. Watch for: Shelley's manic piano playing, Debbie sharing a scene with Timothy Carey. Music by David Raksin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 12366 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Curtis Harrington  (1928 - 2007)

American cult director who graduated from experimental films (he was an associate of Kenneth Anger) to working as an assistant on Hollywood films like Peyton Place and The Long Hot Summer. He made several distinctive B-movies during the 60s and 70s, before turning his hand to mainstream American TV. His most notable films were Night Tide, starring a young Dennis Hopper, Queen of Blood, Games, the twisted thrillers Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? and What's the Matter with Helen?, and possession horror Ruby.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: