Taste of Fear
Directed bySeth Holt[1]
Screenplay byJimmy Sangster[2]
Produced byJimmy Sangster[1]
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe[1]
Edited byEric Boyd-Perkins[1]
Music byClifton Parker[1]
Color processBlack and white
Distributed byColumbia Pictures[2]
Release date
  • 5 June 1961 (1961-06-05) (United Kingdom)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom[2]
Box office$800,000 (Europe)[3]

Taste of Fear is a 1961 British thriller film directed by Seth Holt.[4] The film stars Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, and Christopher Lee in a supporting role. It was released in the United States as Scream of Fear.[5]


After the suicide of her best friend, wheelchair-user heiress Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) arrives at her estranged father's estate on the French Riviera. Her stepmother (Ann Todd), whom Penny has only just met, informs her that the father has been called away on business. She cannot say when he will return or why he left when he was expecting Penny's arrival. Although the stepmother has made the place comfortable for Penny, the young woman does not trust her. That night she believes she sees her father's corpse in the guest cottage. When others respond to her hysterical screams, the corpse is not there. The stepmother tries to convince Penny that her recent tragedy is causing her to hallucinate, and the family doctor (Christopher Lee) cites Penny's history of neurotic behaviour to support that view.

The family chauffeur (Ronald Lewis) meets Penny privately to say he believes Penny did see something unusual, even if not a corpse. He offers to help her investigate. As they proceed, Penny begins to wonder if he is really an ally or if he is leading her away from the truth. When a police detective begins his own investigation, he suspects that Penny may have secrets of her own.



Advertisement from 1961 for Scream of Fear and co-feature, The Trunk.

Jimmy Sangster stated that he originally wrote the film for Sidney Box who assigned him to produce it.[6] According to Sangster, Box became ill and stopped his work temporarily, leading his work to be taken over by his brother-in-law Peter Rogers, who was busy working on the Carry On series.[6] Sangster then bought the film back from Rogers and sold it to Michael Carreras on the condition that Sangster would be allowed to produce.[6] Filming occurred at Bray Studios in Berkshire.[7] Filming started 24 October 1960.[8]


Taste of Fear was distributed in the United Kingdom on June 5, 1961, with an 82-minute running time.[1] It was later distributed in the United States with an 81-minute running time on August 22, 1961, under the title Scream of Fear.[1] The film was a success in the United Kingdom and the United States and was very popular in Europe, being one of Hammer's most profitable productions which led to a cycle of similar films.[3]

In March 2013, it was announced that the film will be remade for Sony, and directed by Juan Antonio Bayona, whose previous credits include the acclaimed 2007 Spanish horror film, The Orphanage.[9]


From contemporary reviews, The Monthly Film Bulletin found that writer Jimmy Sangster was "too deep in the Hammer tradition to achieve much finesse" and suggested that appearance of the Father in the film are written and played "with a flatness which makes them irresistibly, destructively comic." The review commented on the directing stating that Holt "has done a professional job. All those creaking shutters, flickering candles, wavering shadows and pianos playing in empty rooms still yield a tiny frisson." and that Ann Todd was played "with a nice neurotic edge."[2]


Christopher Lee later stated that the film "was the best film that I was in that Hammer ever made... [...] It had the best director, the best cast and the best story."[10] Ann Todd contradicted him, saying that she thought "it was a terrible film. I didn't like my part, and I found Susan Strasberg impossible to work with-all that 'Method' stuff."[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Fellner 2019, p. 441.
  2. ^ a b c d e P.H. (May 1961). "Taste of Fear". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 28, no. 328. British Film Institute. p. 63.
  3. ^ a b Hearn, Marcus (2011). The Hammer Vault. Titan Books. p. 61.
  4. ^ Butler, Craig. "Scream of Fear". AllMovie. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  5. ^ Lê, Paul (27 August 2021). "Gaslighting Thriller 'Taste of Fear' is One of Hammer's Best [Horrors Elsewhere]". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Fellner 2019, p. 443.
  7. ^ Howard Maxford (8 November 2019). Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company. McFarland. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-1-4766-2914-8.
  8. ^ "Hollywood Production Pulse". Variety. 18 January 1961. p. 26.
  9. ^ Waltz, Amanda (26 March 2013). "'The Impossible' Director Juan Antonio Bayona To Remake 'Scream of Fear' For Sony". Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  10. ^ Hearn & Barnes 2007, p. 61.