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What's The Matter With Helen?
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Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters star in this stylish shocker set in 1930s Hollywood about two women who come to Tinseltown to start an idyllic new life and end up in a terrifying nightmare. Directed by Curtis Harrington (Queen Of Blood, Games), this relentlessly frightening film also stars Dennis Weaver (McCloud), Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched, Dear Dead Delilah) and Yvette Vickers (Attack of the Giant Leeches, Attack of the 50ft Woman).
New High-Definition Transfer from the Inter-positive
• Original Theatrical Trailer
• Original Radio Spot
• Still Gallery
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The audio in the blu-ray version is so low I had to turn the volume up as high as it would go then turn it down when somebody screamed so the neighbors wouldn't complain. It was very annoying having to keep adjusting the volume. I think Shout Factory could have done a better job with the audio and I didn't see much quality in the picture for what was supposed to be HD. The picture was grainy and not as clear as what I expected for a blu-ray. I never understood how HD could come from a film that was standard definition. That would probably explain the grainy picture.
This wasn't worth the price I paid for it at Shout Factory. Next time I'll wait for a sale at Amazon for low-budget horror films like this.
I first saw this movie a few years ago as part of MGM's Midnite Movies. It was released with 'Whoever Slew Auntie Roo?' I thought it was pretty good then and decided to get this new blu-ray version. Lately all of the old MGM Midnite Movies have been being released one at a time. The problem that I have is that I don't feel that these movies should be released on their own. They should probably do what they ended up doing with all the MGM movies and release them as a pair. They don't give you enough to stand on their own. Perhaps if they added some commentary tracks or interviews or something then it might be worth it.
BLU-RAY and EXTRA'S: The picture is very good. It is a bit on the dark side but that is probably because that's the way it was shot. The pictures itself is clear and I didn't notice any imperfections. It is in widescreen 1.85:1. The extra's are minimal. You get a trailer, still galery and a radio spot. If you want the best possible picture for this movie then this is it but other than that there isn't much reason to upgrade from MGM's Midnite Movies.
PLOT/SUMMARY: (***Lots of Spoilers***) Helen Hill(Shelley Winters) and Adelle Bruckner (Debbie Reynolds) both have kids that have committed murder and change their names and take off to Hollywood to escape the hatred in their hometown. Adelle opens up a dance academy and Helen works as her assistant. They both live in fear that somebody will try to take revenge on them for the sins of their kids. This is especially so with Helen. Helen soon starts to have psychological problems. Adelle meets Lincoln Palmer (Dennis Weaver), the father of one of the children who attends her academy. A romantic relationship ensues. Helen becomes jealous of their relationship. She feels like she is being pushed aside.
One night a stranger shows up while Adelle is out with Lincoln. Helen kills him thinking that he is their for revenge against her. She finds out that he was an investigator who was looking for her so that she could collect on money left to her by a dead relative. Adelle comes home and together with Helen they dispatch of the body.
Helen worsens psychologically. She kills all her rabbits and admits that she killed her husband. Adelle wants her gone as soon as possible. Shortly thereafter Adelle and Lincoln plan to elope. Helen stabs Adelle in the back and kills her. Lincoln comes to pick up Adelle and finds her in the pose that you see on the cover of this DVD case. Helen is playing the piano.
THOUGHTS/CONCLUSIONS/RECOMMENDATIONS: I know that it was done deliberately but I think that showing the ending of the movie on the poster art was a dumb idea.
Dennis Weaver plays the husband to be of Debbie Reynolds. I still think of Dennis Weaver as 'McCloud' from my youth.
I've read some criticism of Shelley Winters and her acting performance but I don't agree with it. I thought she did a pretty good job.
Apparently a portion of the plot had some realism to it. Winters and Reynolds were friends and at the time Winters was actually suffering from a nervous breakdown.
It is pretty clear from watching the movie that Shelly Winters' character displays lesbian characteristics. They actually filmed a seen in which she kisses Debbie Reynolds on the lips. However that seen was removed because it would have given the movie an 'R' rating. How far we have come since then!
If you pay attention, you will see Yvette Vickers as a mom of one of the children participating in the dance classes. Her role is minor. Vickers was a former Playboy playmate and starred in 50's science fiction classics "Attack of the 50 foot Woman" and "Attack of the Giant Leeches."
I think the movie was pretty good and deserves 3 1/2 to 4 stars as does the print quality. I'm only giving it 1 1/2 stars for the extra's and I would have given this 4 stars if it were priced at $9.99 or was part of a two movie collection. But at almost 20 dollars (at the time of this review in April, 2017) it is a bit too expensive.
The lack of location shooting is a liability as the sets are all obvious studio backlots and the kiddie show segments detract from the film’s attempt at horror but I’d say this is on par with something like Joan Crawford’s BERSERK, in that the performances of the leading ladies make up for the shortcomings in the script. Oh, and Agnes Moorehead almost steals the movie in her brief scene.
Extras are a bit disappointing as there is only the original trailer and a still gallery. It would have been nice if some of the child actors could have appeared in a short featurette at least, waxing nostalgic about their time on the set with these two legends.
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