Friday, October 22, 2021

THE THIRD HAMMER-AMICUS BLOGATHON: Taste of Fear aka Scream of Fear, 1961

Thank you to our hosts, Barry at Cinematic Catharsis and Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews who present The Third Hammer-Amicus Blogathon running from October 22nd to October 24th. Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Encore



Taste of Fear released in the States as Scream of Fear is an elegant thriller written and produced by Jimmy Sangster (The Brides of Dracula) and directed by Seth Holt (The Nanny).



Susan Strasberg as Penny

Our film opens with the body of a young woman recovered from a lake while another young woman returns home after a long absence. Penny, played by Susan Strasberg (Picnic) has a complicated history. After the divorce of her parents, she moved to Italy with her mother and has not seen her father for a decade. Her closest friend was her nurse Maggie, who was hired to assist the wheelchair-bound Penny following a riding accident.



Ann Todd as Jane

Arriving at her father's villa in France, Penny is told that her father is away on business and has not set a return date. She is also told that her father has been ill and under a doctor's care. Penny is meeting her stepmother Jane played by Ann Todd (The Passionate Friends) for the first time. The relationship between the two is a strained one. Is Jane over solicitous? Is she hiding something? Perhaps Penny is paranoid about her strange situation. She is reputed to have always been an over-imaginative and skittish girl.



Ronald Lewis as Bob

Penny is putting what trust she has in her father's chauffeur Robert played by Ronald Lewis (Mr. Sardonicus). Robert is kind and romantic, and a plus in Penny's eyes, he doesn't like his employer's wife. When Penny is frightened by the sight of her father's corpse, it is Robert who believes her while Jane calls in the local doctor Pierre Gerrard played by Christopher Lee (The Gorgon). Dr. Gerrard seems fixated on her mental state and keeps pushing sedatives.



Christopher Lee as Dr. Gerrard

It is a case of who and what to trust for both Penny, and for the audience. Is her vulnerability making Penny susceptible to nefarious persuasion or is that fragility the root of hallucinations and paranoia? Penny leans into the comfort offered by "Bob" and backs away from Jane's attempts to be a friend. Will proof be found to establish the truth of these people and the mysterious events at the villa? 

It is not a contradiction to say that the four leads in Taste of Fear play their duplicitous roles with straightforward honesty bringing the intriguing and twisting script to life. The tasteful and shadowy cinematography by Douglas Slocombe (Julia) and the stylishly classic score by Clifton Parker (The Blue Lagoon) subtly support the story.

Taste of Fear was an international success for Hammer from a box office standpoint, from a critical standpoint, and for the audiences who have discovered it in the 60 years since its initial release. It is the very definition of a horror classic.








41 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard of this film until I saw it about a year ago. A brilliant film, with many fine twists (although I figured one or two out fairly quickly, some threw me completely). Also, one of my favourite Christopher Lee films ever.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is such a treat to come across a movie that can work its magic on a new audience.

      Delete
    2. Yes, this is definitely one that I am going to return to in the near future. And I'd completely forgotten the French cop, who's almost worth a film of his own.

      Delete
    3. I love meeting those characters that you want to spend more time with and imagining a future film focused on them.

      Delete
    4. That's always a sign of good work (even in films that aren't that great overall) - when the writing, acting and directing really click in a small part

      Delete
  2. I tend to enjoy all of Hammer's early 60s psychological thrillers. This is a particularly good one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This does sound a sterling cast and in combination with your treat of a review, one to hunt down. Really got the chills at this premise and those black and white photos add so much.. thanks for joining the blogathon Paddy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My pleasure. Thanks for hosting.

      Taste of Fear is a most creative film and satisfying movie-going experience.

      Delete
  4. Hi Patricia—this is the first time I’ve ever read about this film, and I’m intrigued. I am a big fan of Susan Strasberg; I wonder why she never became a bigger star. She was gorgeous and talented. And of course I love the suave and debonair Christopher Lee in everything,
    - Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Chris. I feel the same way about Strasberg. Her ability and looks should have placed her at the top of the heap. Scream of Fear is a impressive in its execution and effect. I think you'll appreciate it.

      Delete
  5. Intriguing review of a film I've never heard of! I will definitely be checking this one out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope Scream of Fear receives some gold stars in your book.

      Delete
  6. I did once see this movie, a long time ago, and I recall it was rather disturbing, as well as having a twist ending, which, unfortunately, I forget... However, your review will definitely make me see this film again!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aha, it will be almost like a "new" movie by this time.

      Delete
  7. Taste of Fear is one of those Hammer movies I haven't seen yet. I will definitely have to check it out! Hammer is known for their colour horror movies, but I do love their black-and-white thrillers too! Sometimes they're scarier than the colour horror movies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love the colour, but there's something chilling about excellent black and white cinematography.

      Delete
  8. I really enjoyed the twists and turns in this movie, and the performances were spot-on. Your post is a great reminder that Hammer produced some truly memorable thrillers. Thank you so much for joining our blogathon! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for hosting this fun event and the nice compliment. There have been a lot of very interesting articles in the blogathon.

      Delete
  9. Taste of Fear and The Nanny are probably Hammer's best two thrillers. Taste of Fear boasts a fine cast and, honestly, the creepiest swimming pool this side of The Cat People. Plus, the twist is a doozy and Christopher Lee is a delight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You made me grin! "...the creepiest swimming pool this side of The Cat People." Mind if I use that line?

      Delete
  10. This film has such a great script by Sangster. You think it's going to be easier to predict than it actually is. I saw it again recently for the first time in years and thought it was going to follow the Diaboliques template much more closely, but there are more twists. A good film to re-watch a few years down the line when you've forgotten them all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! I'm the same way. You watch. You enjoy. You wait awhile and it is all fresh again.

      Delete
  11. Of all the Hammer suspense-thrillers of this period -- The Maniac, Paranoiac, Nightmare, etc. -- this one in my opinion is the best. Jimmy Sangster wrote some of Hammer's great Gothic horrors, but he was most in his element with the psycho-thrillers. And then there's the great, iconic poster art of Susan Strasberg screaming. The marketing played up on Psycho's huge popularity by including their own warning: "For maximum thrill, we earnestly urge you to see the motion picture from the start!"

    ReplyDelete
  12. I liked SUSAN STRASBERG (and the entire cast) in PICNIC. SHELLEY WINTERS was friends with Susan. Shelley had director GEORGE STEVENS go with her to see Susan in the play THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK hoping he would give her the part in the movie. Susan had played the part for quite a while and she was tired and her performance wasn't fresh. As you know MILLIE PERKINS got the part. CLASSIC TV FAN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is understandable that Susan wasn't at her best near the end of her run in the play. I always enjoy seeing her in movies and on television.

      Delete
  13. I want to mention that actress JOANNA CAMERON's passing was on Oct. 22 (Fri.) at the age of 70. She played the title character ISIS in the Saturday live-action series on CBS. It ran in the mid 70s. It had a lot of similarities to WONDER WOMAN. I watched it every week. Joanna also played the daughter to BOB HOPE and JANE WYMAN in HOW TO COMMIT MARRIAGE which also starred JACKIE GLEASON. She had a part in the COLUMBO ep that guest-starred DICK VAN DYKE. P.S. Joanna was pretty and likable as ISIS/ANDREA THOMAS(a school teacher). CLASSIC TV FAN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was a fan of The Secrets of Isis as well. I like it when my superheroes are fun.

      Delete
  14. In my opinion, this is one of Hammer's very best thrillers (it's my wife's favorite Hammer movie). The cast is great. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks. Re-watches through the years make me more impressed with the stellar filmmaking.

      Delete
  15. Despite the fact that I'm a Hammer fan, this one has eluded me over the years. Thanks for the great write-up, Paddy. I'll be checking it out very soon and I look forward to the chills, thrills and twists and turns!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I don't know if this is accurate but I read that LEE STRASBERG and his wife PAULA kept MARILYN MONROE dependent on them. She believed she needed them in her life every day(in perhaps an intrusive or dominating way, some people would say) to be a good actress. I mean no disrespect to the Strasbergs. I just think it is an interesting story. At one time Marilyn lived with Lee and Paula and shared a room with their daughter SUSAN STRASBERG. One time Susan said on a talk show that she told Marilyn "I wish I had your body" and Marilyn said "Oh no, Susie. They respect you." CLASSIC TV FAN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relationships with a mentor can be intense and complicated.

      Delete
  17. Being HALLOWEEN is coming up soon I want to recommend two episodes of a comedy series that I think will fit the mood. It is a series that you know and appreciate. MY THREE SONS-two of the color eps. I don't know if the series is available on you tube or where. The first one is "THE HEARTBEAT" about KATIE hearing a strange noise while home alone. It originally aired in Nov. 1967. The second one is "THE CAT BURGLARS " and aired on Oct. 31, 1970. It is about a costume party. CLASSIC TV FAN

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will search around for those episodes. I haven't seen them in ages, and only the first three seasons of the show are on DVD so far. We're lucky to have them as they are excellent. I am a big fan of the show through all its changes.

      Delete
  18. I'm going to look for this one--the story sounds awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I recently purchased this film on Blu Ray but haven't managed to watch it yet (oh for more hours in the day). Based on your review, it sounds like a lot of fun with the viewer sharing Penny's confused and frightened state. It has just been moved up on the viewing list!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent! You won't regret having this movie in your collection.

      Delete

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR DECEMBER ON TCM

  Can you believe that winter and the Christmas holidays are practically here? It is time to get cozy and revel in some sweet-natured nostal...