Adelle Bruckner. Mother of a sociopath son. Changed her name, moved to Hollywood, and now runs a dance academy for Shirley Temple wannabes.
Helen Hill. Mother of other sociopath son. Changed her name, moved to Hollywood, and now plays piano at a dance academy for Shirley Temple wannabes.
Sister Alma. Pentecostal preacher with a huge following in Hollywood.
Location: Hollywood California, circa 1935
Adelle: Happy-go-lucky, in denial over her son's bloody past, great dancer, smiles a lot, bit of a slut - but definitely the more balanced of the two women.
Helen: Great piano player, overcome with guilt and remorse over her son's bloody past, prone to screaming at the drop of a hat, kills fluffy bunny rabbits, listens to religious radio shows, kills an innocent guy that she thinks is stalking her, ends up killing Adelle and then goes off the deep end.
Sister Alma: A sort of Aimee Semple McPherson type, makes a lot of money and has no time for crazy women who have break-downs at her services.
Camp Factor: Considering that Helen and Adelle's sons are based on those famous gay killers of yore, Leopold and Loeb, What's The Matter with Helen is pure camp from the get go! When the gals set up shop in Hollywood and all the little Baby Jane's start showing up, things get even more campy - and when Shelly's Helen starts loosing it and begins to chew up the scenery, well welcome to camp heaven kids! Add Sister Alma to the mix with her over-the-top proclamations of salvation and you have some real icing on this gay horror film. And hold out for the final scene, a fucking brilliant moment in which Adelle's paramour (played by Dennis Weaver) discovers exactly What's the matter with Helen!
Adelle: Debbie Reynolds
Helen: Shelly Winters
Sister Alma: Agnes Moorehead