RELEASED: 1970 Cert. PG
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 75 mins
DIRECTOR: Curtis Harrington
PRODUCER: George Edwards
SCREENPLAY: Henry Farrell
MUSIC: Laurence Rosenthal
Anthony Perkins as Allan
Julie Harris as Katherine
Joan Hackett as Olive
FILM ONLY REVIEW
How Awful About Allan is an adaptation of a TV play, both that and the film being written by Henry Farrell.
The story begins with a house fire in which Allan and Katherine's father is killed. Katherine is left with a severe facial disfigurement caused by burns, and Allan, who blames himself for the fire, subsequently suffers from diagnosed psychosomatic blindness whereby he can see nothing other than vague, fuzzy shapes.
After spending a period in the psychiatric wing of a general hospital, Allan returns to the family home, and his sister looks after him.
Mistrusting everybody, even his ex-girlfriend Olive who pops in daily to see how he is, Allan develops a debilitating paranoia which isn't helped by the fact that he can barely see anything. The misty shadows of his vision don't allow him to distinguish who is around him or their motives, and he becomes very suspicious of a lodger Katherine allows to stay at the house.
As time goes by, and tortured with sleep dreams about the night of the fire which killed his father and scarred his sister, Allan's paranoia worsens.
That pretty much sets the scene, so to find out more you must track down a copy to watch for yourself.
How Awful About Allan is a rather bitty film which seems as if it has been made on a very tight budget.
The acting is less than one step up from appalling - yes, even Anthony Perkins - but I got the distinct impression whilst watching, that had he been supported by a stronger cast, he may have played the part of Allan with the skill that I expect from an otherwise very good actor. The performances by the two female main cast members are so bad that they are almost laughable....wooden and contrived, resulting in both the characters of Katherine and Olive lacking any kind of depth.
The musical score isn't too bad, but rather old-fashioned for a film made in 1970 as it is far more suited to something from at least a decade earlier.
Although Anthony Perkins was by no means at his best in this film, he did deliver various facial expressions quite well, but one thing which almost amused me was how the character of Allan's eyesight is only half a step up from total blindness, yet he seems to easily manage to do things efficiently. Surely if he can hardly see, he'd not have been able to carry out these various tasks with a finesse that most fully sighted people would have occasional problems with? There are several scenes in the film where he runs both upstairs and downstairs, yet he doesn't stumble, hold onto any handrail/bannister or falter in the slightest.....nor does he even pause for a moment at the top of the stairs to work out how he is going to negotiate them. I don't know if that was a case of Anthony Perkins being remiss, but if it was, surely the direction/production team should have corrected that issue?
There were points during the film whereby although I could easily follow the storyline, I wasn't sure why certain things happened in the way that they did, and nothing is really cleared up at the very predictable end.
How Awful About Allan does have a couple of good points though. The overall atmosphere is one of suspense and mystery, which is put across quite well in that such is ample to hold a viewer's attention. I suppose it is a case, sticking with the film, of wondering what will happen next. I didn't find it particularly scary, but I'm not sure if it's necessarily supposed to be....it is just a rather low-key psychological thriller/drama. The overall storyline is one which has great potential, and the direction/production team did set the scene pretty well....it's just a great shame about the very poor quality acting, plus the dialogue also left a lot to be desired.
It would be interesting to have seen the play of How Awful About Allan in order to make comparisons, but despite hunting the planet high and low, I can find no trace of a copy of it to watch.
How Awful About Allan certainly isn't something where of the actors or anybody else involved in making the film would have found themselves standing at an awards ceremony holding a shiny accolade whilst giving one of those gushing, insincere-sounding speeches - but there is one from the CelticSoulSister movie appreciation catalogue that I'd like to award....that being for dreaming up what is probably the most ridiculous title for a film in existence.
How Awful About Allan is one of these rare films whereby I feel it could easily stand a re-make, due to it actually having a lot of unexplored potential. Of course, somebody else would have to play the lead male role because of Anthony Perkins no longer being with us, but all of the right elements are present....they just need to be tapped into and have something meaningful created from them.
I was moderately entertained whilst watching, but this isn't a film I'd ever be impatient to see again, simply because it doesn't contain enough skill or substance to warrant a repeat viewing...at least as it stands. Maybe if somebody did take the plunge and create a re-vamp, I'd watch it out of interest in hopes that the much needed improvements had been made.
At the time of writing, How Awful About Allan can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.87 to £60.00
Used: none currently available
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
So what's the deal with Allan then, eh? Well, other than being performed in a wooden, pissy, spoilt manner by Anthony Perkins - the man who seemed to fail at everything other than playing the same Psyhco character, Norman Baites, over and over until he made that eventually fail - Allan has hysterical blindness. The film starts with a fire in Allan's house in Allan's father's room. His father is burnt to death as Allan watches, held back by the flames which don't deter his sister who runs into the room to only have her face horribly burnt.
Allan can no longer see clearly, the film occasionally slips into first person perspective and his eyesight is like looking through frosted glass (which is probably how they've achieved this). Why he's gone blind is not really convincing. He blames himself for his father's death and sister's disfigurement apparently. Why he does so, isn't clear. He didn't start the fire and he tried to stop his sister. It's a bit far-fetched to be honest. So after 8 weeks of some sort of therapy he returns home to the house.
His now scarred sister (who sometimes looks like an older Jennifer Aniston) mollycoddles him as he acts incredibly weird and wooden and like he has some massive attitude problem. She has put their father's old room up to rent and Allan who wants to be treated like a big baby is very shaken by the idea. The lodger's name is Harold Dennis (a name they say fully over and over again for some reason) and one day he walks down the wrong staircase and makes Allan jump. This starts to ball rolling on Allan's irrational paranoia. For some reason he believes Harold Dennis is out to get him and at night he hears a voice whispering his name and trying to lure him to the top of the attic stairs. The smiley horny bitch, Olive, from next door tries to help him reintegrate from being a prat into normal society whilst clearly wanting a piece of Perkins and Harald Dennis is rarely seen whilst Allan's paranoia rages. And so is this film.
This film has a major handicap from the start with Anthony Perkins as its star. He acts like a spoilt child throughout the film. His performance varies between stiff and lifeless irritating man to deer-in-the-headlights whenever any sort of emotion was required. His character was horrible as a result and you have no sympathy for his self-induced, for no good reason blindness or his hang-ups about trying to be part of the real world again especially as he seems to go on and on and on about being blind. His paranoia seems completely unfounded and seeing as this is the basis for the film undermines any potential merit it may have.
His sister (Julie Harris) is pretty nondescript, the scar makeup looks a little dodgy but that's all and if Julie Harris was ever really worthy of that Academy Award nomination there's nothing really indicating it here. Olive played by Joan Hackett too is nothing special but perhaps provides the little entertainment in the film by wearing a stupid headscarf thing.
Curtis Harrington was the director and is of some fame for his films Who Slew Auntie Roo? and What's the Matter With Helen? but I can't say I have any big love for the man after this terrible production and the quantity of made-for-TV films he has made probably say a lot more about the man. Surely he could have kept the film a little more alive. Allan being scared by someone whispering "Allan" is pretty much the whole plot and takes up 80% of the screen time. The first person perspective was really all the film had going for it. Allan's blurred vision that comprehends only shadows adds a sinister element but in the end thank God this film is only 1 hr 13 minutes long because it's in no way scary or entertaining the only thing keeping you watching is how are they going to provide closure to this nonsense. There's mystery but you on the end of your seat only slightly bored at the same time with a sense of confusion in a bad way. Also pitched as a horror film on the DVD case I have at no point was this film in any way scarry despite the few scenes were you saw some shadows through Allan's eyes and that just looked like you were looking at someone through the shower glass.
Oh and the end! How far-fetched and such a load of BS. I just didn't really think the motivations of the protagonists made all that much sense or that Allan's initial paranoia was in anyway ever justified enough or his theories sense-ical.
My DVD had four other films on it and maybe it was just a cheap copy or the production as a whole was really poor the colour and general film quality was terrible.
As soon as Allan discovers evidence of the whisperer (i.e. a tape recording) he smashes it. Why?
You have to love the old woman in this film who screams "HER FACE IS BURNED" as if it disgusts her and she'd be safer put down.
You can actually watch this film online free and legally here:
But take my word for it, it's a waste of time. (And I should know all about wasting time as that's all I do)
***Who I'd Punch***
Perkins in the Perkins
This film is an abomination. Anthony Perkins is a waste of space and although it cost me next to nothing and can be watched for nothing I feel like I've wasted money on it.
Written by Phelim McC using a ghost-writer.