TASTE OF FEAR (1961) Reviews of Hammer classic

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‘The motion picture shocker of the year!’
Taste of Fear is a 1961 British horror thriller film directed by Seth Holt (Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb) and shot in black-and-white by Douglas Slocombe, for Hammer Films. In the US, it was released as Scream of Fear

Title Taste of Fear (1961)

The film stars Susan Strasberg (The Manitou), Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, and Christopher Lee, the latter, one of Hammer’s most bankable stars, in a supporting role.


Christopher Lee has been quoted as saying: “Taste of Fear was the best film that I was in that Hammer ever made… It had the best director, the best cast and the best story.” To “drag it back to reality” (his words in the film), Lee’s French accent doesn’t work.

A young paralysed woman (Susan Strasberg) returns to her family home after the mysterious disappearance of her father. She has a cool relationship with her stepmother, while the chauffeur helps her to investigate the father’s disappearance.

Scream Of Fear 017

During the investigations, she finds the father’s corpse in various locations around the house, but it always quickly vanishes again before anyone else sees it.

“A superior Hammer movie – from its well-crafted script to its inventive direction and fabulous monochrome cinematography from the great Douglas Slocombe, it features a stand out performance from young star Susan Strasberg as well as great support from Ann Todd and Hammer Studios stalwart Christopher Lee.” Tipping My Fedora


Scream of Fear doesn’t demonstrate quite the same mastery of its subgenre as earlier Hammer productions demonstrated of gothic or sci-fi-inflected horror in the 1950s, but it is competitive, on the whole, with any but the best of the similar movies that William Castle would make during the post-Psycho era. Susan Strasberg is one of 60’s psycho-horror’s better damsels in distress, Christopher Lee is wonderfully smarmy…” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting


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“I usually don’t care for this type of plotting (it requires way too much planning on the part of our heroes, not to mention that any slight deviation on the part of the villains would cause their entire plan to unravel. These people must be chess masters), but at least I was somewhat surprised by the final five minutes. It was still fairly dull, but it’s something.” Horror Movie a Day

” … even though it is a grounded in reality thriller, it huffs and puffs like a supernatural yarn and is just altogether haunting. The incredible black and white photography is partially to blame but the story itself leaves giant spaces for you to come to your own conclusions at times and you won’t be blamed for suspecting something otherworldly is going down. One scene in particular that involves Dad’s corpse being spied in a swimming pool is just a blaring punch of full-on horror.” Kindertrauma

Writer/producer Jimmy Sangster jokes with actress Susan Strasberg




MOVIES and MANIA rating:

Choice dialogue:
Penny Appleby: [to Doctor Gerrard] “You say my mind is affecting my legs. You’re wrong. It’s my legs that are affecting my mind.”

Cast and characters:
Susan Strasberg … Penny Appleby
Ronald Lewis … Bob
Ann Todd … Jane Appleby
Christopher Lee … Doctor Gerrard
John Serret … Inspector Legrand
Leonard Sachs … Spratt – The Giant Behemoth; Konga; Doctor Who
Anne Blake … Marie
Fred Johnson … Mr Appleby
Heinz Bernard … Plainclothes Officer (uncredited)
Bernard Browne … Gendarme (uncredited)
Rodney Burke … Policeman (uncredited)
Brian Jackson … Plainclothes Officer (uncredited)
Richard Klee … Plainclothes Sergeant (uncredited)
Madame Lobegue … Swiss Air Hostess (uncredited)
Frederick Rawlings … Plainclothes Sergeant (uncredited)
Frederick Schrecker … Plainclothes Officer (uncredited)
Gordon Sterne … Policeman (uncredited)

Technical details:
1 hour 21 minutes
Audio: Mono (RCA Sound Recording)
Black and white
Aspect ratio: 1.85: 1

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