Day 5 – What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971)

A few months ago, I had apparently bought an “All Night Horror Marathon” 4-movie collection from Scream Factory. When I received it, I couldn’t for the life of me remember buying it or why I would have bought it. The movies included are The Vagrant, The Outing, The Godsend, and What’s the Matter with Helen?. Before tonight I had only seen The Vagrant, which was pretty crazy. Tonight, I decided to watch What’s the Matter with Helen?.

Set in the 1930s, Debbie Reynolds and Shelley Winters star in this 1971 thriller about two mothers who, after their two sons are convicted of killing a woman, move from Iowa to California after receiving threatening phone calls. They change their last names and try to start fresh with their new dance school for “kiddystars,” but paranoia begins to creep in as they start receiving phone calls again. Anonymous letters show up and strange men lurk in the dark across the street from their home. The tension continues to build until what I think is a very satisfying ending that I won’t ruin here.

Shelley Winters is great in this movie. Her character feels the brunt of the paranoia as Debbie Reynolds’ character seems to maintain normalcy… and sanity. I think I must’ve read about this movie somewhere before I purchased this collection, because it definitely seems like something I’d seek out anyway. At first it seems like we might just remain in thriller territory, but there are a few shocking (and bloody) scenes scattered here and there. By the end of the movie, I was convinced of its greatness.

Here is a scene when we start to realize Shelley Winters might be losing it:

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