Movie Details

Previously and brilliantly filmed by director Jack Clayton as The Innocents in 1961, Henry James' classic psychological-horror novel The Turn of the Screw was remade 34 years later in the form of this TV movie, which changes the original locale and several character names. American governess Helen Walker (Valerie Bertinelli) arrives at an ornate English country estate, there to take charge of two orphaned siblings, Flora (Florence Hoath) and Mile (Aled Roberts). That the children are rude and ill-mannered does not unduly rattle Helen, who expects this sort of behavior in children of privilege. What is disturbing is that the youngsters' game-playing often takes on an unsavory sexual subtext far beyond their tender years. This, and a few strange "sightings", leads Helen to the startling conclusion that the children are under the power of the ghosts of their former caregivers--a sadistic handyman and an evil governess who died despising one another, and intend to "resolve" their kinky carnal issues using the youngsters as their pawns! Though handled with surprising subtlety and austerity, The Haunting of Helen Walker somehow falls short of the eerie brilliance of the 1961 The Innocents, and without being unduly cruel, it can be said that Valerie Bertinelli is no Deborah Kerr. Filmed on location near Readling, England, the TV movie premiered December 3, 1995 on CBS. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi