Dir. Curtis Harrington, 1970 (TV).
USA. 73 min.


[Warning: the available DVD-rip that we will be presenting is transferred from a tape copy and is, well… very ‘nostalgic’ looking.]

“For some inexplicable reason, this tele-feature is but rarely accorded the respect it merits. In point of fact, it is a most accomplished, gripping, and well acted affair, from the days when a “Made for TV” movie, could still boast performers, writing, and technical credentials of the first water.

The story is an intense, psychological study of a young man suffering from hysterical blindness following the death of his professor father in a fire. Set in a large, shadowy, Victorian house, this very Gothic story hinges on the sibling rivalry between the young man and his spinster sister, both of whom blame themselves, in different ways, for their father’s demise. Eventually, the young man’s sanity begins 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 film has literary antecedents in the work of Shirley Jackson, Walter De La Mare, and Nathanial Hawthorne.

Starring a cast of major (big screen) movie and stage actors, this film has everything that is conspicuously absent in current television: an excellent musical score, evocative photography, muted lighting, accomplished art direction, an interesting premise and script, intelligent dialogue (gasp!) and a very good sense of pacing.

Add to that a baseline story that improves on the novel upon which it was based (yes I read it) and you have a viewing experience very different from the “Made for TV’s” of today, which are—I’m told, since I don’t watch them—an endless stream of tedious, politically correct, AIDS, Anorexia, and spouse abuse victim propaganda studies—I believe the catch phrase is “victim of the week” stories.

All in all, “How Awful About Allan” serves as a sad reminder of what was still artistically possible in the world of commercial television, in the not too distant past.”

-Guest summary by ‘BrentCarleton’, IMDb member since December 2003