How Awful About Allan (1970) (NTSC)

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Released 18-Feb-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Cult None
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 73:56
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Curtis Harrington
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Anthony Perkins
Julie Harris
Joan Hackett
Kent Smith
Robert H. Harris
Molly Dodd
Billy Bowles
Trent Dolan
Bill Erwin
Jeannette Howe
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI Box Music Laurence Rosenthal

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Allan (Anthony Perkins) has spent 8 months in a mental institution after a fire in the family home killed his professor father and disfigured his sister Katherine (Julie Harris). He feels guilty about the fire (he may have deliberately lit it but we are never sure) and suffers from psychotic blindness, only able to see blurred images. He is allowed to return to the family home to be looked after by Katherine and Olive (Joan Hackett), his old girlfriend across the road. But when Allan gets home he starts to hear voices and believes that the mysterious lodger is trying to harm him. Is this all in his head, or is someone really out to get him?

     How Awful About Allan has a reasonable pedigree. It is an Aaron Spelling TV production which first aired in the US on 22 September 1970, and as Spelling held the Guinness World Record for the “most prolific TV producer” he certainly knows a thing or two about entertainment. Director Curtis Harrington was to have a range of low budget horror films to his credit as well as TV episodes including Dynasty and he is in good touch here. The construction of the film is tense, aided by the blurred images showing Allan’s POV. The film is based on a novel by Henry Farrell (who also wrote the screenplay). Farrell also wrote Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) and Hush . . . Hush Sweet Charlotte (1964) so knows his thrillers. And then of course there is the star Anthony Perkins who made his name with Hitchcock’s Psycho in 1960 and can play mentally troubled with the best of them. The film is essentially a two hander; Perkins is seldom off screen and delivers a controlled and compelling performance. Harris is also good in a role that does not give her too many opportunities but she plays off Perkins very well.

     How Awful About Allan is a well made, well scored, well written and well acted TV movie that builds the tension to an interesting climax. And Anthony Perkins is well worth watching.

     How Awful About Allan is included in the six film, 3 DVD collection The Devil at Work, a collection from Gryphon of devilish tales from the 1930s to 1970s. The full list is The Devil’s Daughter (1939) and Devil Monster (1946) on disc 1, Devil’s Partner (1963) and Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) on disc 2 and How Awful About Allan (1970) and Good Against Evil (1977) on disc 3.

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Transfer Quality


     How Awful About Allan is presented in 1.33:1, the original ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced. It is an NTSC print.

     This is an unrestored 70s TV movie that looks its age. There are frequent positive and negative artefacts, although none are so large as to be distracting. The colours are dull, and brightness, contrast and skin tone vary considerably. Blacks and shadow detail are not the best, but are acceptable, detail is often indistinct. The main issue is that the print has a significant number of compression artefacts, macro-blocking (the fire sequence at the beginning is bad), frames wiggle or are off sync (37:07), and noise reduction is evident, such as the moving picture on the wall at 68:09. While there are certainly issues, the film is not unwatchable by any means.

     There are no subtitles.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is an English Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps that does a reasonable job. The dialogue is fine, effects acceptable. My system redirected some music to the surrounds and fire and storm effects to the sub woofer. There is noticeable hum in quiet moments and the occasional drop out.

     The score by Laurence Rosenthal is another highlight of the film. It is creepy when it needs to, but does not overdo it and helps the build up of tension very well indeed.

     Lip synchronization was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     There is a stand alone Region 1 US release that is reported to have a poor transfer. The also appears to be a Region 0 UK release but I can find no further details.

     I cannot find any equivalent to The Devil at Work package in any region.


     How Awful About Allan is a well made, well scored, well written and well acted TV movie that builds the tension to an interesting climax.

     The audio is acceptable, the video has issues but the film is not unwatchable and there are no extras.

     How Awful About Allan is included in the six film, 3 DVD collection The Devil at Work, a box set from Gryphon of devilish tales from the 1930s to 1970s for a RRP of $19.95.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, April 18, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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