Sunday, September 30, 2007
Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Olivia DeHavilland, Shelley Winters, Agnes Moorehead, Tallulah Bankhead, Geraldine Page, Ruth Gordon - these were the women of Grand Guignol - macabre cinematic tales of subtle terror and sudden shocks starring faded Hollywood stars who were ripe for a comeback vehicle. But what if a man starred as the victims in one of these twisted tales?
That would bring us to Anthony Perkins starring in HOW AWFUL ABOUT ALLAN, directed by Curtis Harrington ( also WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? and WHOEVER SLEW AUNTIE ROO?) and produced by Aaron Spelling for the ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK.
Perkins plays Allan, who has been blinded in a fire that killed his brilliant father and left his sister Katherine (Julie Harris) disfigured. Allan is in a hospital and declares that he doesn't want to see anyone. Has he forgotten about his blindness? After 8 months, he's released from the hospital and goes home to live with Katherine, who wears a big pink plastic patch over her burn scar. She tells Allan that she has been renting out rooms to students to help pay the bills. She has closed off the room where Daddy got cooked. Allan begins recording a diary about all the fun he's having since his return home. He seems to spend most of his time drinking coffee and modeling pajamas for his ex fiancee Olive (Joan Hackett from THE LAST OF SHEILA - dressing like Eliza Doolittle here).
Allan's sight still isn't perfect (he sees things as if he were looking through a bumpy piece of frosted glass) and the new whispering "roomer" Harold Dennis makes him as uncomfortable as the wallpaper in the house makes us. I've decide to nickname this film I HEARD A ROOMER.
Allan decides to find out more about this college student, so STILL PARTIALLY BLINDED, he gets behind the wheel of his car and drives to the nearby campus, causing a few accidents. Back home, Allan figures out that the student isn't real , but maybe he's Katherine's lover Eric Walters! Lots creepy shadows appear inside the house (ghosts?) and then Allan cuts his hand on a carving knife. Olive the ex comes to his rescue.
Later, there is a storm and blind Allan winds up outside in the rain - and pinned under a downed tree. We now flashback to his childhood and witness the abuse and torment foisted upon him by his father and sister! What a couple of evil bastards those two are!
The whole thing leads to a climax that is a homage to PSYCHO - right down to the swinging light fixture -and the killer and his/her motives are revealed. Shocking! Not.
ALLAN is fun little footnote that is worth watching (if you can find it). It probably would have been a lot more fun with a old woman in the lead role, but I guess Aaron Spelling hadn't hooked up with Joan Collins yet. I'll give it 7 out 10 "Huhs?"