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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

TASTE OF FEAR (aka SCREAM OF FEAR) (1961)

Jimmy Sangster, who wrote some of the best Hammer Studios horror pics, was rightly pleased with this chamber-sized psychological shocker. Shot by Douglas Slocombe in moody monochrome that might have served Ingmar Bergman, the story recalls DIABOLIQUE/’55 and GASLIGHT/’40,’44, but stirs them up to its own design while adding new devilish twists. Under Seth Holt's steady-paced helming, Susan Strasberg is really good (no kidding!) as a wheel-chair bound prodigal daughter, home after ten years to find her father unexpectedly away on business and her step-mother unexpectedly nice. Ann Todd oozes concern as the step-mom, especially when the poor girl starts seeing her father all over the house . . . DEAD. Christopher Lee is also all over the house, but very much alive. He’s the local doctor who gives Strasberg sedatives and spends entirely too much time with step-mom. Something’s up, but the only person the girl can trust is the hunky chauffeur. At least, he believes her . . . doesn’t he? You’ll guess some of the plot turns, but probably not all of them; and there are a couple of real scream-worthy moments amid the ghostly gloom.

DOUBLE-BILL: British films had a productive case of the creeps in 1961, try THE INNOCENTS, adapted from Henry James’ classic ghost story THE TURN OF THE SCREW, for a literary bump-in-the-night.

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