How Awful About Allan

Last updated
How Awful About Allan
How Awful About Allan.jpeg
Title card
Based onHow Awful About Allan by Henry Farrell
Written byHenry Farrell
Directed by Curtis Harrington
Starring Anthony Perkins
Julie Harris
Joan Hackett
Music by Laurence Rosenthal
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producer Aaron Spelling
Producer George Edwards
CinematographyFleet Southcott
EditorRichard Farrell
Running time73 minutes
Production company Aaron Spelling Productions
Original network ABC
Original releaseSeptember 22, 1970 (1970-09-22)

How Awful About Allan is a 1970 American made-for-television horror psychological thriller film directed by Curtis Harrington, the first of two collaborations with writer Henry Farrell (the other was What's the Matter with Helen? ), and starring Anthony Perkins and Julie Harris. It premiered as the ABC Movie of the Week on September 22, 1970, and was produced by prolific television producer Aaron Spelling.



Allan Colleigh has psychosomatic blindness following a fire that killed his father, a renowned academic who punished Allan as a child. The fire also facially scarred Allan's sister Katherine. Allan had accidentally left some cans of paint thinner near a heater which caught fire.

Returning home partially cured after months in a mental hospital, Allan tries to adjust to his life back at home. Katherine has an ex-boyfriend who has gone away, but who phones the house after Allan's return. She also takes in an odd boarder who she says has a throat injury and hence can only speak in a whisper. Allan is suspicious and afraid of the new boarder and when he begins to hear his name being whispered and partially sees a dark figure coming to get him, wonders whether he is crazy or whether someone is really out to get him. He records his suspicions on a reel-to-reel tape recorder in his bedroom.

Olive, Allan's fiancée before his father died in the fire, tries to renew contact with Allan. He is, at first, reluctant but gradually is persuaded to see her again. He asks her to keep an eye out for the mysterious lodger so she can describe the lodger to him. Olive persuades him to take a trip into town in her car. While she drops books back at the university library, she leaves Allan alone in the car and he thinks he hears the whispering again. He tries to drive the car away, only to crash it.

After further incidents with the blurry, whispering figure– and Allan cutting himself with a knife upon being startled by a delivery boy at the kitchen window– Katherine tries to persuade him to see the psychiatrist again. Meanwhile, Olive claims to have seen Katherine's boyfriend in the town. Katherine denies that he has returned, but Allan feels she is hiding something and suspects she wants to have him sent back to the hospital. Allan experiences various nightmares. In one he relives his punishment by his father, during which he hid in a dark cupboard. In another episode, the whispering voice lures him to a room which seems burnt and where the ceiling timbers fall in. The next morning, he is convinced that the room was real. This belief is reinforced by his finding a piece of burnt wood in the house.

Allan calls the hospital, hoping to see the psychiatrist. Unfortunately, the doctor is away. Allan will have to take a cab to meet the doctor on his return. The cab duly arrives, but in going to meet it, Allan slips on the path. The cab driver turns out to be Eric, Katherine's boyfriend, who has a croaky whispering voice which he attributes to a cold. Olive, who has come looking for him, helps Allan back into the house. Later, after ensuring Alan is still alive although his door is locked, Olive and Katherine speak together and Katherine says she will send Allan back to the hospital the next morning, as she cannot stand it any more. Allan had tried to convince Olive there was a plot against him, remembering that the whispering voice was on his tape recorder from the night before, but she is no longer in the room when the voice plays back. Allan smashes the tape recorder on the floor.

Soon after, the whispering voice lures Allan into the kitchen pantry and the door is locked behind him. He finds that a fire has been set within, but douses it with some flour and manages to break the door down and wrestle with the shadowy attacker. As he pulls the figure's black mask off, his vision returns and he recognizes his sister, Katherine. He also removes the plastic "appliance" which she had adhered to her face to represent her scar. She confesses that she had the scar from the fire removed, but says that it should have remained there as a brand to show all the world Allan's crime: the "murder" of their father, "the greatest man who ever lived."

After some time has passed, Allan comes home and talks to Olive, who is preparing dinner for them. He has been taking a music appreciation course and seems much more normal. However, he has received a letter from Katherine– who was evidently sent to a psychiatric facility– pleading with him to have her released. As he contemplates this, his vision goes dark– he is blind again.



The original novel was published in 1963. The Washington Post called it "one of the most impressive novels of the year." [1]

Perkins signed to make the film in April 1970. [2]

The movie was shot in 12 days. [3]

Anthony Perkins had special contact lenses made that he could barely see through, so he would be nearly blind while filming his scenes. He popped the lenses in just before filming and was led onto the set by a crew member.


The Los Angeles Times called it "not scary". [4] The New York Times said it "had neither a thrill nor a chill." [5]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog</i> 1927 silent film by Alfred Hitchcock

The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog is a 1927 British silent thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June Tripp, Malcolm Keen and Ivor Novello. Hitchcock's third feature film, it was released on 14 February 1927 in London and on 10 June 1928 in New York City. The film is based on the 1913 novel The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes and the play Who Is He? co-written by Belloc Lowndes. Its plot concerns the hunt for a Jack the Ripper-like serial killer in London.

<i>Night on Earth</i> 1991 film by Jim Jarmusch

Night on Earth is a 1991 art comedy-drama film written and directed by Jim Jarmusch. It is a collection of five vignettes, taking place during the same night, concerning the temporary bond formed between taxi driver and passenger in five cities: Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rome, and Helsinki. The action in the vignettes takes place at the same time, moving from Los Angeles in the United States to Helsinki, Finland. The scene in each city appears to occur later and later in the night due to the changing time zones. Jarmusch wrote the screenplay in about eight days, and the choice of certain cities was largely based on the actors with whom he wanted to work. The soundtrack of the same name is by Tom Waits.

<i>Mrs McGintys Dead</i> 1952 Poirot novel by Agatha Christie

Mrs McGinty's Dead is a work of detective fiction by British writer Agatha Christie, first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in February 1952 and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 3 March the same year. The US edition retailed at $2.50 and the UK edition nine shillings and sixpence (9/6). The Detective Book Club issued an edition, also in 1952, as Blood Will Tell.

<i>Mermaid Saga</i> Japanese manga series and its adaptations

Mermaid Saga is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. It consists of nine stories told in 16 chapters irregularly published in Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday Zōkan and Weekly Shōnen Sunday from 1984 to 1994.

<i>Whispers</i> (Koontz novel)

Whispers is a novel by American suspense author Dean Koontz, originally published in 1980. It was the first of Koontz's novels to appear on the New York Times Best Seller list, and is widely credited with launching his career as a best-selling author. The novel was also adapted for a 1990 film by the same name.

<i>The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century</i>

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume III: Century is the third volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Kevin O'Neill. Co-published by Top Shelf Productions and Knockabout Comics in the US and UK respectively, Century was published in three distinct 72-page squarebound comics.

<i>Its Alive</i> (2009 film) 2009 American film

It's Alive is a 2009 American science fiction horror film directed by Josef Rusnak. It is a remake of the 1974 film of the same name written and directed by Larry Cohen. Bijou Phillips stars as a mother who has a murderous baby.

<i>Nice Girl?</i> 1941 film

Nice Girl? is a 1941 American musical film directed by William A. Seiter, and starring Deanna Durbin, Franchot Tone, Walter Brennan, Robert Stack, and Robert Benchley. Based on the play Nice Girl? by Phyllis Duganne, the film is about a young girl who finds herself attracted to one of her father's business partners who comes to town to give her father a scholarship for his dietary studies.

<i>Strange Voices</i> American TV series or program

Strange Voices is a 1987 American made-for-television drama film about schizophrenia directed by Arthur Allan Seidelman and written by Wayne and Donna Powers. It was one of the ten highest rated made for TV movies that year with a 33 share in the Nielsen Ratings. The reviews were mixed as the film was criticized as inferior to other made-for-television movies about the disorder, including Promise (1986). The New York Times, for instance, called it "too much, too late".

Payback (<i>Law & Order: Special Victims Unit</i>) 1st episode of the 1st season of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

"Payback" is the pilot episode of the police procedural television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the first spinoff of the original Law & Order series. It originally aired on NBC in the United States on Monday, September 20, 1999. In the episode, the detectives of the Special Victims Unit investigate a taxi-cab driver's brutal murder and castration. Detective Olivia Benson becomes personally involved in the case after discovering that the taxi driver was a rapist and murderer himself.

Oliver Jones is a fictional character in the CBS soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. Zack Conroy originated the role in January 2010. In 2013, the character crossed over to The Young and the Restless for two episodes.

<i>Golan the Insatiable</i> American TV series or program

Golan the Insatiable is an American animated television series that originally aired on Fox on November 23, 2013 along with Lucas Bros. Moving Co.; it officially premiered on January 11, 2014. It was created by Josh Miller and developed by Dave Jeser & Matt Silverstein. It is based on stories written by Miller that appeared on the website Something Awful. It aired on Fox's Animation Domination HD programming block.

<i>Gotham Academy</i> (comic book)

Gotham Academy is a comic book series published by DC Comics. The series takes place in the DC Universe's Batman mythos and follows Olive Silverlock, a teenage girl, and her friends as they encounter the mysteries and threats of Gotham's most prestigious prep school, Gotham Academy, which happens to be just across the road from the Arkham Asylum.

Beta (<i>The Walking Dead</i>) Fictional character

Beta is a fictional character in the comic book series The Walking Dead and the television series of the same name, where he was portrayed by Ryan Hurst. In both universes, Beta is the second-in-command of the Whisperers, a group of survivors who wear walker (zombie) skin to hide their presence from actual walkers. He serves as Alpha's right-hand man and after her death, becomes de facto leader of the Whisperers.

"Ghosts" is the third episode of the tenth season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead, which aired on AMC on October 20, 2019. The episode was written by Jim Barnes and directed by David Boyd. In the episode, the threat of the Whisperers return leads to paranoia sweeping over Alexandria. In the meantime, Carol battles with the need for revenge.

<i>Mighty Express</i> CGI-animated childrens television series

Mighty Express is a computer animated children's television series created by the British producer Keith Chapman. The series is produced by Spin Master Entertainment in partnership with Netflix, while the animation is produced by Atomic Cartoons. It was released on September 22, 2020.


  1. MYSTERY & SUSPENSE: Allan's obsession, by Dorothy B. Hughes. The Washington Post and Times-Herald 15 Sep 1963: BW22
  2. Everly Brothers and Cash to Team on ABC Los Angeles Times 06 Apr 1970: e16.
  3. Speeded-Up Films Favored by Perkins. Los Angeles Times 25 June 1970: e19.
  4. TV REVIEW: Movie of the Week Opener Murphy, Mary B. Los Angeles Times 23 Sep 1970: e22.
  5. TV Review: A.B.C. Football Draws 33 % of the Audience By JACK GOULD. New York Times 23 Sep 1970: 95.