Sunday, May 16, 2010

How awful that Allan is haunted or insane

How Awful About Allan (1970s)
Starring: Anthony Perkins, Julie Harris, and Joan Hackett
Director: Curtis Harrington
Rating: Seven of Ten Stars

Allan (Perkins), who has been suffering from hysterical blindness since the burning death of his father, is released from an asylum and into the care of his sister (Harris). But mysterious events start occuring around Allan, events that fill his blurry world with terror. Is he being haunted by the ghost of his dead father, is his sister trying to drive him insane, or is it all in his mind?

"How Awful About Allan" is a well-staged and perfectly paced modern-day gothic thriller. With a great cast--among which we see Anthony Perkins giving what might have been the best performance of his career--who were working with an intelligent and well-written script, and a director who knows how to deploy his entire arsenal of set design, cinematography, lighting, sound effects, and music to envoke a sense of mystery and dread.

Despite its humble (and sometimes obvious) television origins, this is a film worth seeking out by anyone who is a fan of gothic tales. ("How Awful About Allan" stands as one of the great achievements of the late Aaron Spelling.)

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