Monday 29 July 2013

Taste Of Fear AKA Scream Of Fear (1961)

An interesting psychological thriller from Hammer, this film has been recommended to me a number of times and I'm glad that I finally got around to seeing it.

The plot sees young, wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) returning to her family home after the recent death of a friend. She wants to reconnect with her estranged father and is also willing to find out more about her new step-mother, Jane (Ann Todd). There's a friendly young man named Robert (Ronald Lewis), a concerned doctor named Pierre Gerrard (Christopher Lee) and her father. Well, her father doesn't seem to be alive when Penny sees him, but everyone else claims that he's just fine. And his body is surprisingly mobile for a dead man. What's going on?

Directed by Seth Holt, and with a script written by the talented Jimmy Sangster (who also wrote the excellent The Nanny), Taste Of Fear may have many elements in place familiar to fans of psychological thrillers, but they're all executed pretty perfectly. In fact, the big finale earns it a whole extra one or two points thanks to how entertaining and nicely constructed it is.

The cast all do a decent job, with Strasberg particularly good as the vulnerable and frayed lead. Christopher Lee puts on a slightly clumsy accent, but he does very well with a role quite unlike most of his other work for the studio, and both Todd and Lewis are fine.

With a nice feeling of unease from start to finish, some moments of genuine tension and a couple of impressive jump scares, Taste Of Fear is a superior example of this kind of film. It's a film, along with the aforementioned The Nanny, that I wish we'd seen a lot more of from a studio that made so much money from vampires, Frankenstein's monsters and other supernatural creatures.


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