Taste Of Fear 1961


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(17) IMDb 7.4/10

Hammer thriller in which, after narrowly surviving a drowning accident, wheelchair bound Penny Appleby goes to live with her widowed stepmother on the French Riviera, where she soon begins to question her sanity after seeing her father's corpse in the grounds.

Christopher Lee, Ann Todd
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Product Details

  • Feature ages_12_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 22 minutes
Starring Christopher Lee, Ann Todd, Ronald Lewis, Susan Strasberg
Director Seth Holt
Genres Horror
Rental release 4 October 2010
Main languages English
Original title Scream Of Fear

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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Spike Owen TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Mar 2011
Format: DVD
God bless the internet and god bless DVD. The reason I say that is because once hidden gems like this film are now being discovered by a bigger audience. Taste Of Fear (AKA:Scream Of Fear) is produced out of that bastion of British horror, Hammer Films, it's directed by Seth Holt (The Nanny), written by Jimmy Sangster (X:The Unknown/The Curse Of Frankenstein) and stars Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd & that cornerstone of Hammer Horror, Christopher Lee.

Shot in moody black & white by Holt and cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, and eerily scored by Clifton Parker, the story sees a young paralysed woman return to her family home in France to visit her father who she hasn't seen for years; and to finally meet her new step-mother. Upon arrival she is informed that her father has had to go away on business, which becomes a problem as she starts to see his dead body, first in the summer house, then in the lounge! The mind can play tricks, especially to the traumatised, but she's convinced that what she is seeing is real. Even the family doctor (Lee in a suitably suspicious role) thinks there are mental issues here. Undaunted she enlists the help of friendly chauffeur Bob and sets about unravelling either her mind, or the mystery that lurks at the Appleby home.

The film opens with an attention grabbing sequence as police drag a lake for a body, from there on the film becomes essentially a four character piece. Now it's been said in some quarters that this structure telegraphs where the film is going to end up. There's a tiny bit of truth in that but there are at least three twisty kickers here to steer this far away from charges of predictability. In fact the finale has a double whammy that is most rewarding.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy W. Newbould on 14 April 2010
Format: DVD
Taste Of Fear (a.k.a. Scream Of Fear) is an early-1960s, edge-of-the-seat Hammer thriller scripted by Jimmy Sangster and directed by Seth Holt. Very much in the style of Henri-Georges Clouzot's "Les Diaboliques" and other Hammer thrillers such as "Paranoiac" and "Crescendo", the let's try to drive someone mad-type plot has more twists and turns than a rattlesnake on a helter-skelter ride.

To go into too much detail about the plot would spoil the film for those who have never seen it and I want to keep this review fairly short as well. So, to summarise the basic plot, a young, wheelchair-bound woman called Penny (Susan Strasberg) returns to her father's home on the French Riviera to see her father again for the first time in ten years. When she arrives at the house, she is welcomed by her stepmother, Jane (Ann Todd). Her father is not there and is supposedly away on business.

During the night, Penny hears a strange noise and makes her way down to the summer house where she finds the corpse of her father sitting in a chair. As she flees the scene in horror, she has an accident with her wheelchair and ends up in the pool. She is rescued by Bob The Builder, sorry - I mean Bob The Chauffeur (Ronald Lewis), and is tended to by a visitor called Doctor Gerrard (Christopher Lee). When she tells everyone what she saw, they do not believe her of course and when they return to the summer house the corpse is no longer there.

Then, later on, Penny sees her father's corpse again - this time in the study. Is Penny just imagining all of this? Is her father really dead or is there some kind of conspiracy going on to drive Penny insane?
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A. Griffiths on 3 Nov 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Great to see this finally out on DVD - it's been really hard to find this for far too long. In the mid 1960's, Hammer films went through a phase of churning out a whole set of neat, twisty, psychological thrillers, filmed in black and white. Although they all shared a low budget and TV style appearance, they were created mostly by the talented team of Jimmy Sangster/Seth Holt/Freddie Francis, and they all had great plots and surprise endings. Titles included "Maniac", "Paranoiac", "Nightmare", "Hysteria" and this one, "Taste of Fear" from 1961 which was the first and undoubtedly the best.

The story is absolutely the crowning achievement here. If you don't know the plot of "Taste of Fear", stop reading this right now, look up no other reviews or summaries and go and buy it immediately. It's an hour and a half of pure suspense, thrills and queasy terror. I'm certainly not giving anything away except for the simplest basics: wheelchair bound heroine returns to family home to be told her father is away, but one night she stumbles across his corpse in the house, however when she reports it, nobody else can find it and she starts to doubt her sanity...what is going on?

By the time the truth is revealed you will have been on a thoroughly entertaining journey of suspense. The film is shot modestly in small locations such as the family's clifftop house and a few streets and offices, but when the suspense works it really works! The scenes in which the fathers Corpse appears (or does it...?) are real frighteners, as the stark black and white photography (and perfect lighting) makes the body appear truly ghoulish. Watch out for a sequence filmed underwater, at night in a dilapidated swimming pool, for the scariest shots of the whole film!
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