What’s the Matter with Helen? Review


What’s the matter with Helen? Is one of those films where you know from the jump that it’s probably going to be bad. You’re hoping that maybe it’s still decent or something, but the odds aren’t in its favor. It goes for the usual extreme amounts of shock value the whole time and throws in some animal violence for good measure. The film may not be particularly long but you will be shaking your head the whole time without a doubt.

The movie starts with showing us Adelle and Helen who are the mothers of two kids who became murderers. The world is blaming them for not raising the kids properly and so they have to discard their old identities and go into hiding. Unfortunately, someone seems to have followed them. They get calls from a mysterious man who says that he will be murdering them later on. Helen is terrified of this and wants to just stay home in hiding with Adelle. Adelle isn’t taking this as seriously and says they should just move on with their lives. Both of them are rather extreme in their views but Adelle is taking it a little better.

So, Adelle is right in the sense that you should not live your life in fear. I’m totally cool with that but she takes it pretty far when she starts forgetting to close the door behind her. Now that’s just common sense, why would you forget to do that each night? It’s even worse when someone is threatening your life as well as your roommate’s. It’s a lack of common sense on Adelle’s part.

Still, at least Adelle is trying her best to move on. She started her romance with Lincoln rather quickly but that may have been another way of coping. If she married him and they move off somewhere, perhaps she will be truly safe. Towards the end of the movie she is a bit slow on the uptake though. Lets face it, Helen’s been quite unhinged for a while at this point. Adelle continues to turn her back to Helen though even when things don’t seem to be in a good spot. Rule number 1 of any film even if you’re not a horror title…don’t give your back to someone when they are standing right next to a conveniently placed butter knife.

Now for Helen….I’ve got a lot of issues for her. She starts turning crazy very early on in the film to the point where the movie may have tipped its hand a little too early. You’ll be tempted to think that there never was a phone call if Adelle hadn’t heard it. You’ll be considering how Helen could have faked the call or if she hired someone. Neither option makes a lot of sense though so then you have some potential here.

I forget the exact name of the movie, but it might have been the Crow. Basically the plot is that there’s a villain who has decided to rob a bank and next he is going to murder Vincent Price. If you’ve seen any old film you’ll know…you don’t just bump off someone like Price without a fight. What the murderer didn’t count on was the fact that Vincent was also a criminal and he turns the table in an instant. The would be victim has now become the villain himself. I still remember thinking that was a brilliant twist. It’s why Willie’s Wonderland always looked fun in that sense.

There are so many horror films where the villain is just an ordinary person and yet they’re murdering dozens and dozens of people. After a while you hope that there will be a film where this killer runs into the wrong house and has to deal with someone just as crazy. You probably can’t do this plot too often or it would get old but once in a while? Absolutely that’s an excellent twist and a good way to subvert expectations. Now this might seem to be unrelated but here’s what I’m getting at.

The film could have had a really interesting dynamic with the mysterious caller breaking into the house only to find that Helen isn’t some powerless old lady. That would have made for a great confrontation. Instead the film doesn’t go that route and it’s unfortunate. The route we do go through is pretty much exactly what you would expect from the very beginning of the film. Helen gradually goes more and more insane as she consistently raises the body count.

It’s not a cool kind of insane either so she’s not exactly a villain you could root for. No, she’s still crying a lot the whole time and isn’t intimidating in the slightest. She only claims victory against others who were not expecting a battle or animals who couldn’t possibly fight back. It’s not entertaining at all and is just annoying to see everyone go down so easily. The cast is also pretty small so it’s not like supporting characters could save her. Lincoln is probably the only other real character here and he’s just around for the romance. You shouldn’t be trying to romance a teacher the first time you meet so I didn’t have a great first impression on him.

To wrap this up, it’s a very classic horror type film. It gets rather violent as Helen imagines dead bodies in front of her and stabs people quite a lot. There’s a surprising amount of blood in these murders as well. Then you’ve got the animal violence which really comes out of nowhere and is pretty awful. The film doesn’t have any particularly good scenes to bring it back up either. There’s no line of dialogue that impressed me or a sub plot that was interesting. It’s a movie that flops from start to finish.

Overall, What’s the Matter with Helen is a film that I would highly advise staying away from. Just take a look at the poster so you know how the film will end and then you can save yourself the full experience. A slow decline into madness is the kind of plot that may be easy to show in a film but it’s hard to execute well. This one just went through the motions with no real soul and as a result it was doomed to fail.

Overall 1/10

The Tender Trap Review


Whenever someone yells “It’s a Trap!” you typically want to listen. In this case, Julie knows deep down that Charlie is not a good person and getting together with him isn’t a good idea…but she ignores this feeling. What happens next is what you would expect, drama and tragedy. What holds this film back is how unlikable Charlie is and the fact that you can’t believe him when he tries to show how much he has changed. He gives us too many fakeouts during the film for this to even be somewhat believable. It’s too bad, Julie could have chosen someone a lot more noble.

The film starts with Charlie’s old friend Joe shows up to live with him for a while. He basically showed up unannounced except for a letter informing Charlie of the new situation. Charlie’s fine with this arrangement, but Joe quickly grows jealous. Joe may be married and have 2 kids already, but he’s greedy and wants to be able to play the field again. He gives in to the temptations of the big city and quickly becomes a terrible character. Meanwhile, Charlie is using everyone that he can, but one day a girl by the name of Julie refuses to get together with him. Charlie takes it personal and decides that he’s going to change her mind.

As you can already see here, one of the tricky parts of the film is that Charlie revels in his life style. He cheats on all of his girl friends. It’s played for laughs, but that will immediately cause you to dislike him. There is really just no going back from this point on. Even after he proposes to someone else, he quickly does the same with Julie and is quickly found out. Julie may be extremely gullible and not all that smart, but even she is able to piece the puzzle together once it becomes plain as day. It was just too late for Charlie to change things.

Another plot line in the film is about the corruption of the big city. Joe was happy with his life until he fell for the “Grass is always greener” trick and began to date someone even though he’s already married. That was the first red flag. After that, he even gets ready to propose to someone and goes to call his wife to explain why they can’t be together anymore. He is shut down by the person that he proposes to (Sylvia) so he ends up keeping the marriage but it makes you wonder how real it is. The wife will never know what a backstabber Joe is which is unfortunate.

I can’t say that Sylvia or any of the other people who hung out with Charlie were any good. The argument that Sylvia made is that they had no prospects left so they didn’t mind being the 2nd or 3rd choices, but that’s a really low standard to set for yourself. It makes it less personal when Charlie cheats on them I suppose, but it doesn’t help their cause. Julie is the only one with real personality and backbone, but the plot just doesn’t go well for her. At first, she does a good job of explaining why she shouldn’t bother eating out with people she’s not serious about. That’s an argument that I can buy into. Next, she explains that she has a very specific plan which even has a deadline on when she has to be married. That’s when she lost me.

Julie has planned out the rest of her life which includes how many kids she’ll have, what schools they’ll go too, when she’ll be married, etc. She has to follow her plan by the book and it doesn’t allow for any debate or alterations. The obvious downside of this is that she’ll have to rush and find someone if the deadline is close, even if it’s not the ideal person. The plan is essentially what makes her choose Charlie and it’s not the greatest way to pick a husband. After he tricked and cheated on her multiple times, I was kind of hoping that she would do something about it. Like you know…..breaking the whole thing off? Instead she apologizes for getting in the way of affairs and decides to settle for being one of them. They break up again after Charlie does more of this, but they get back together again so you have to wonder what the point of it all was.

The film is fairly well written, but that’s not enough to save it. You can have the best writing in the world, but if the characters are unlikable, then it is all for naught. Of course, you can make the case that a well written film would automatically make the characters likable, which is valid I suppose. It could have been better, but the script wasn’t that bad. The themes were just the main part that I could not agree with. I differed with the film quite consistently. Otherwise, the film didn’t do much wrong. It had a few humor moments scattered in and the living room setting gave the film a retro Odd Couple sort of feeling. It made the film more personal and laid back. It’s no thriller of course, but that would have just meant that the director had mixed up the genres.

There are a few songs in this film since Frank Sinatra is in it, but they don’t play as much of a role as you might expect. The tunes definitely weren’t bad, they weren’t the greatest, but they’ll do in a pinch. A little music can go a long way as long as it’s quality and the actual songs are certainly better than what you may hear nowadays. I could go on a tangent about the state of the music industry, but this isn’t really the time or place for that debate.

Overall, The Tender Affair is a pretty misleading title. There’s nothing tender about this one as you could call it something more appropriate with ease. “The Rebound Affair” “The Artificial Affair” “The Planned Affair” etc. There wasn’t anything tender about it, both Julie and Charlie needed the affair for personal reasons. They weren’t very noble either. Julie let her idealistic version of romance cloud her judgment and Charlie had been through many affairs before. He just likes the attention. If you want a real romance film…then I can’t really think of anything off the top of my head. If you want a film about the bonds of friendship and making the tough calls, watch Madoka Magica Rebellion. That’s a film that you won’t regret checking out!

Overall 4/10

The Catered Affair Review


It’s time for a slice of life drama. This film started off on a really solid note but then decided to take itself a little too seriously at the end. There’s a lot of crying and over the top reactions for everyone along with a rather unsatisfying ending. It’s still a decent film, but I felt like this Affair could have been a lot better. Lets go into more detail on this.

Agnes and Tom may be married but they don’t get along very well. Tom is a penny pincher and Agnes always looks on the negative side of things. As a result, their daughter Jane has never gotten to do anything special during her life. She’s lived a very normal life up til now, but Jane didn’t mind. Unlike the other two, she’s an optimist. Now she is finally getting married and wants to just have a very small wedding. Unfortunately, she makes the mistake of allowing Agnes to say that her uncle cannot attend. This causes a lot of friction and negative rumors in the town so Agnes decides that Jane will have a wedding whether she likes it or not. Jane’s soon to be husband does not like this at all, but rolls with it. Slowly, the whole town begins to turn against Jane and her parents may go bankrupt from the expensive traditions of marriage. Was this the right call?

To weigh in on the marriage debate, I’d say that a quiet one is the way to go. If I did host a big party, I sure wouldn’t be paying for everyone’s breakfast and travel fare. See, people tend to get caught up in customs like this just because it’s the standard. I’ve never agreed with that, hence why I eat rice and beans with a spoon and not a fork. A fork may be a sign of social acceptance so everyone wants to do it, but a spoon is faster and more efficient so that’s what I use. So, if I held a marriage party, I’d expect my guests to show up and to have had their own meal. If not…too bad. They’re the ones who should be happy to have been invited, otherwise it looks like I’m basically paying them to attend. Of course, I’d probably just go with Jane’s original plan and get married at a Smash Bros local or something so I can keep playing.

Jane’s friends don’t help matters though. Her bride’s maid is more concerned with how others see her than actually helping out at the wedding and puts Jane into a bad situation with no real advanced notice. The groom’s parents decide to invite a ton of people so that the price will go up and Agnes/Tom will be in even worse financial shape. There isn’t a whole lot of sympathy from the others here, but at the same time the main characters don’t handle it too well either. It’s their money so they should lay down the ground rules. Simply don’t accept that many guests and they’ll be fine. This story is really about not letting other people walk all over you. Even Jane crumbled a bit since this would have all been avoided if she had simply stuck to the small wedding plan.

The first half was more of a traditional comedy though so that part was good. The meeting of both pairs of parents was fun even if Agnes kept cutting Tom off and making them look bad. The film also just works a lot better this way than as a tragedy because it’s a whole lot more believable. It helps that the Uncle’s plot didn’t appear as much here. As a character he was okay, but the plot where he meets up with an old neighbor just didn’t work for me. It didn’t actually add anything to the story and in a way it was used to mock the main characters. The Uncle is apparently rich, but since the main characters are always being mean to him, he decides not to help them out.

The reason why the ending isn’t very satisfying is because the characters essentially had the worst of both worlds. They planned out the wedding and made the down payments, but had to cancel it at the last second. Tom decided to drink a bunch of beers so he got a hangover and the parents were late to the wedding or may have missed it entirely. The film ends with them still en route. We never got any scenes to make the Groom likable and he just comes off as a rather inconsiderate person. The parents got the taxi though so that should hopefully make everything okay.

Hmm, this review sounds pretty negative doesn’t it? Well, the writing is pretty solid. It’s an old film so the characters are all on point and sound like actual people. It’s also just a soothing little adventure for a while. Even with the dramatics it never gets unwatchable or too down in the dumps. If the first half was a 7, then the next half would be more like a 4.

Overall, The Catered Affair may have missed out on some opportunities, but it’s still a good film. I definitely wouldn’t be thrilled to pay for a wedding with my entire life savings if I had been doing such a good job of earning money for several years. So, you can sympathize with Tom quite a bit as well. The Wedding salesman also did a pretty good job of scamming the heroes as well. You always gotta make sure that you sell as much as possible if you want to be a good salesman. I’d recommend checking this out if you want to see what happens when you spend too much money on stuff like this or why you shouldn’t listen to random strangers about how you should do things. Once you let go of the peer pressure, then you can really enjoy yourself.

Overall 5/10