Scream of Fear (1961)
Taste of Fear, UK
Director: Seth Holt
Script: Jimmy Sangster, Cinematography: Douglas Slocombe, Editing: Eric Boyd-Perkins, Original Music: Clifton Parker
Cast: Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, Christopher Lee, John Serret
I watched this movie on TCM one rainy afternoon expecting to see a bit of British horror spectacle that Hammer Studios is so deservedly famous for. But I soon discovered this wasn’t typical Hammer-style horror. In fact, it’s not really horror at all. It’s a nifty little suspense-thriller filmed in glorious black & white and set on the cliffs of the French Riviera.
The plot revolves around a young wheelchair-bound girl (Strasberg) who may be losing her mind. She keeps seeing the gruesome corpse of her absent father turn-up in rather unlikely places around his villa. The girl is dependent upon the two people living in the house with her, a step-mother and a charming chauffeur, neither of whom she completely trusts.
Much closer in style and substance to something Hitchcock might have done, it was decidedly influenced by Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques (1954). But it still has it’s own unique twists, not the least of which is a clever ending that wraps things up nicely, and surprisingly enough—I didn’t see coming from the first frame.