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How Awful About Allan 1970
Description: After an eight-month stay in a mental hospital, a tormented boy comes home to live with his sister; but a mysterious boarder may be trying to slay him.
Released: 22 Sep 1970 Director: Curtis Harrington Writers: Henry Farrell (teleplay), Henry Farrell (novel) Actors: Anthony Perkins, Julie Harris, Joan Hackett, Kent Smith Genres: Horror, Thriller
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How Awful About Allan Reviews:

Atmospheric psychological thriller has Perkins ideally cast as the brooding melody lecturer, left psychosomatically blinded after he witnesses his father perish in a house fire, which also disfigures his elder sister (Harris). After spending eight months in a mental hospital he returns to the house and is cared for by his sister, but his recovery is hampered by the presence of a suspicious boarder who comes and goes under cloak of darkness, and who Perkins is convinced, is trying to slay him.It's sometimes tense and gripping, though the small-scale TV treatment confines the plot to strictly minor status. Hackett co-stars as the kindly neighbour, keen to support Perkins emerge from his deteriorating psychosis, while Kent Smith has a bit part as the once-feared patriarch, favoured by Harris but with whom Perkins' relationship was strained.Provokes an occasional shiver, but it's still a very timid tale that relies too much on the wind machines and 'dark, stormy night' routine, a consequence (but not necessarily an excuse) perhaps of the TV budget. There's a throwback moment to "Psycho" at the film's climax which might bring a smile to your face if you know what to look for, while the distinguished cast deliver their dialogue with stage-born professionalism and the overall effect is a modest time-filler with potential.


For some inexplicable reason, this telefeature is but rarely accorded the respect it merits. In mission of fact, it is a most accomplished, gripping, and well acted affair, from the days when a "made for TV" movie, should still boast performers, writing, and technical credentials of the first water.The storyline is an intense, psychological study of a young boy suffering from hysterical blindness following the death of his professor father in a fire. Set in a large, shadowy, Victorian house, this very Gothic storyline hinges on the sibling rivalry between the young boy and his spinster sister, both of whom blame themselves, in various ways, for their father's demise. Eventually, the young man's sanity starts to give way, in the face of a series of inexplicable hauntings, which may, or may not be supernatural. Only the denouement will tell.With its pronounced subtext of repressed, family guilt, the movie has literary antecedents in the work of Shirley Jackson, Walter De La Mare, and Nathanial Hawthorne.Starring a cast of major (big screen) film and scene actors, this movie has everything that is conspicuously absent in actual television: an perfect musical score, evocative photography, muted lighting, accomplished art direction, an interesting premise and script, clever dialogue, (gasp!)and a very nice sense of pacing.Add to that, a baseline storyline that improves on the novel upon which it was based, (yes I read it) and you have a viewing experience very various from the "made for TV's" of today, which are,(I'm told--since I don't watch them) an unlimited stream of tedious, politically correct, AIDS,Anorexia, and spouse abuse victim propaganda studies--I trust the catch phrase is "victim of the week" stories.)All in all, "How Terrible About Allan" serves as a sad reminder of what was still artistically possible in the globe of commercial television, in the not too distant past.


Within the limitations of television, this was a tidy tiny entertainment. How Terrible About Allan transcended the crummy cheapness that marred Made-for-TV films from their historical onset. This pleasantly scary storyline was better than average because of its workmanlike performances, its unnerving story, and the fact that its main character, Tony Perkins, is not fully sympathetic.Even if you peg the reasons that Perkins has hysterical blindness (and it's wonderfully frustrating seeing the blurred photos he's seeing) from the start, the film accomplishes what it gotta do right from the start--it causes you to give a damn. You watch because you must.Finally, there's a unique zone in my heart for "Olive," played by the late, nice Joan Hackett. She was a lovely girl whose quirky, passionate performances everytime seemed to lift the quality of a movie an additional notch.Anthony Perkins and Julie Harris are just fine, too.So, receive to a dollar shop or the Wal-Mart dollar DVD kiosk, grab a copy of How Terrible About Allan and swing by the warm blankey department--you're gonna need it.



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