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Film / Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?

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Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (released in the U.S. as Who Slew Auntie Roo?) is a 1972 British horror film directed by Curtis Harrington and starring Shelley Winters in the title role, along with Ralph Richardson, Mark Lester, Chloe Franks, Judy Cornwell, Michael Gothard, Hugh Griffith, and Lionel Jeffries.

Rosie "Aunt Roo" Forrest (Winters) is an American-born widow who lives at Forrest Grange, the English manor she inherited from her late husband, a famous magician. Each Christmas, she throws a party for the ten best-behaved children from the nearby Home for Orphaned and Destitute Children. One year, siblings Christopher (Lester) and Katy Coombs (Franks) arrive at her party. Aunt Roo becomes obsessed with Katy, who closely resembles her dead daughter Katharine, and wants to adopt her. But Christopher is suspicious.


Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? contains examples of:

  • Banister Slide: Katharine died falling off a banister. When Katy slides down the same banister, Aunt Roo screams in horror, but Katy reaches the bottom safely.
  • Big "NO!": Aunt Roo screams "NO!" when she thinks Katy's going to fall of the banister, and later when Katy and Christopher lock her in the burning kitchen.
  • Blackmail: Albie blackmails Aunt Roo for 2,000 quid over the fact that she's keeping Katy locked up in Katharine's nursery.
  • Career Versus Man: Aunt Roo was once a celebrated singer and dancer performing in Paris, but she gave it up to marry Col. Forrest.
  • Dies Wide Open: After her death, Katharine stares at the ceiling with blood coming out of her nose.
  • Ding-Dong-Ditch Distraction: Christopher does this to get Aunt Roo out of the kitchen long enough for him to steal the key to the nursery.
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  • Dramatic Thunder: A thunderclap plays between the first scene and the opening credits.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: Aunt Roo wakes up Katy and Christopher on Christmas morning by flinging open the curtains and shouting, "Children! Children! Wake up! Wake up! It's snowing!"
  • Dumbwaiter Ride: Christopher pulls himself up to Katharine's nursery this way. Through the doors, he sees Aunt Roo singing to Katharine's skeleton. Later, he does this to try to rescue Katy. When Aunt Roo catches him, she cuts the dumbwaiter ropes so he can't escape.
  • Elective Mute: Katy and Christopher don't talk at the orphanage, but they start talking once they're at Aunt Roo's mansion.
  • Friend to All Children: Aunt Roo seems like one.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: The film takes place at Christmas time.
  • House Fire: Christopher locks Aunt Roo in a storeroom and sets a fire by the door. The fire guts the house, killing Aunt Roo.
  • Monochrome Past: A flashback to Katharine's death is shown in sepia.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Aunt Roo keeps Katharine's skeleton in a coffin in her old nursery. Every night, she takes her out of the coffin, tucks her into bed, and sings her to sleep.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: When Christopher tries to tell people what's going on, people blame his imagination.
    Christopher: Listen, she's done something bad to Katy.
    Miss Henley: What a terrible thing to say!
    Christopher: She's got a mummy in a secret room!
    Aunt Roo: What? What?
    Miss Henley: I apologize for him. He's a congenital liar with a rather overactive imagination. Christopher, you'll be very severely punished when you return.
  • Phony Psychic: Mr. Benton (Ralph Richardson) is a "medium" who conspires with butler Albie (Michael Gothard) and his wife Clarine (Judy Cornwell) to fake visitations from Katharine. Clarine stands in Katharine's nursery, calling down the dumbwaiter shaft in a little girl voice, which completely fools Aunt Roo.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Aunt Roo screams and begs Katy and Christopher not to leave her alone as they flee the burning house.
  • Punk in the Trunk: Katy and Christopher aren't invited to Aunt Roo's Christmas party, so they hide in the trunk of the carriage taking the guests.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Aunt Roo's cat. We last see it fleeing upstairs, shortly before Katy and Christopher set the house on fire. We never learn if it escaped or not.
  • Whole Plot Reference: To "Hansel and Gretel." Christopher notices the similarities, which causes him to incorrectly assume Aunt Roo is a cannibal.
  • Widow's Weeds: Aunt Roo wears these when she sings to Katharine.

Alternative Title(s): Who Slew Auntie Roo