Taste of Fear

Taste of Fear (US title: Scream of Fear) is a 1961 British mystery thriller film directed by Seth Holt, shot in black-and-white by Douglas Slocombe, and released by Hammer Films. The film stars Susan Strasberg, Ronald Lewis, Ann Todd, and Christopher Lee in a supporting role.

Taste of Fear
Original British theatrical poster
Directed bySeth Holt
Produced byJimmy Sangster
Michael Carreras
Written byJimmy Sangster
StarringSusan Strasberg
Ronald Lewis
Ann Todd
Christopher Lee
Music byClifton Parker
CinematographyDouglas Slocombe
Edited byEric Boyd-Perkins
Distributed byColumbia Pictures Corporation
Release date
London: Jan 1961
New York: 4 April 1961
Running time
78 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Box office$800,000 (Europe)[1]


After the suicide of her best friend, wheelchair-bound 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.



The film was a success in the UK and US and was very popular in Europe, being one of Hammer's most profitable productions which led to a cycle of similar films.[1]

Production notes

  • 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."[2]
  • Lee recalled that, while shooting the dining-room scene, he suddenly realised he was being observed by Gary Cooper. Director Seth Holt remarked that Lee looked as though he'd "seen a ghost". Cooper was shooting what was to be his last film, The Naked Edge, at the studio. Lee recalls seeing Cooper having lunch every day by himself; the actor was dying of cancer.[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.[4]

See also



  • Hearn, Marcus; Barnes, Alan (September 2007). "Taste of Fear". The Hammer Story: The Authorised History of Hammer Films (Limited ed.). Titan Books. ISBN 1 84576 185 5.
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