‘Don’t open that door! Albert may be there.’
Poor Albert and Little Annie is a 1972 psychological horror film directed by Paul Leder (APE, Sketches of a Strangler, The Baby Doll Murders, Vultures) from a screenplay by William W. Norton (Day of the Animals). The plot concerns a violent sex criminal with a psychotic fixation on his mother. The film’s often inappropriate score was culled from the back catalogue of prolific TV composer Herschel Burke Gilbert (It Came from Beneath the Sea).
As far as promotion of this film is concerned, there is an early use of the “Don’t” tagline that would later become used many times in publicity and movie titles (and re-titles), plus the tweaks to the original threatening killer-behind-the-door artwork on subsequent releases.
During its 1974 US theatrical re-release by Europix as I Dismember Mama (a pun on the hit play I Remember Mama), moviegoers were given free promotional paper “Up-Chuck Cups”. An overlong and somewhat irritating trailer advertising ‘A Frenzy of Blood!’ double feature paired with 1972’s The Blood Spattered Bride was created in the style of a news report covering the “story” of an audience member who had allegedly gone insane while watching the two films. The mocked-up movie theatre apparently showing the co-feature has a marquee with Blood Splattered, as opposed to Spatted Bride. So much for the $16,000 allegedly spent on the trailer.
International titles for the film include Crazed; El Psicopata; Tras La Puerta del Miedo and La tentazione impure…
Albert (Zooey Hall) has tried to kill his rich snobbish mother once, for which he was institutionalised. The low security hospital she has sent him to, however, isn’t prepared to deal with the extent of his problems. Obsessed with his own hatred for his mother, Albert is dangerously violent toward all women and attacks a nurse, after which his doctor decides to send him to a high-security state institution.
Unfortunately, Albert easily escapes by murdering an orderly, and the police put his mother in hiding after he phones her and threatens her. When Albert returns to his mother’s home, he finds her housekeeper Alice (Marlene Tracy), whom he tortures and murders.
When Alice’s nine year-old daughter Annie (Geri Reischl) returns home from school, Albert immediately takes a liking to her and he tells her that her mother has gone to the hospital and left him to take care of Annie while she’s away. Albert seems to revert to a childlike persona and they immediately form a friendship…
‘ … the film’s centerpiece is Zooey Hall. His performance as Albert is as terrifying as David Hess from Last House on the Left, but Hall endows the character with a likeable side too, which really makes it upsetting when he lapses into his deranged behavior. The scene where he threatens Alice and makes her strip is really scary because he is so calm and collected during the whole thing, but his explosive violence in the other murders is just as scary.’ Groovy Doom
‘ … this attempt at pathos amidst bloodletting is feeble, misguided sentimentally.’ John Stanley, Creature Features