Scream of Fear (1961)

Penny, a young invalid, returns home to find her father missing. She becomes increasingly suspicious of her step-mother and her father's friend, Dr. Gerrard, when their stories of her father's whereabouts begin to shift. Will their attempts to drive her insane and gain her inheritance succeed before she is able to uncover the truth behind her father's disappearance? SCREAM OF FEAR is a small but effective thriller from the great Hammer Studios. It produces several clever and unexpected plot twists that occur just when the audience feels that they have everything figured out. Susan Strasberg accounts for much of the film's success, delivering a strong and memorable performance as the poorly misguided Penny. Christopher Lee also appears in a subdued role as the scheming Dr. Gerrard. The picture is filmed in a rich black and white, carefully crafting its suspense through its moody lighting and eerie score. Although it was clearly influenced by the success of DIABOLIQUE and PSYCHO, this is certainly one of Hammer's better thrillers, and a worthy Hitchcock imitation.

Rating: 8/10.

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  1. Strasberg of course being the daughter of acting coach legend Lee Strasberg. I liked this lesser-known Hammer film; no DVD but it does turn up on Turner Classic Movies occasionally, which is where I saw it earlier this year.

  2. But wait! The Icons of Horror pack includes it along with The Gorgon and others =D

  3. Probably Hammer's finest pyschological thriller. Beautifully structured, and directed with grace and intelligence by Seth Holt. Lee's character is an excellent red herring, and the isolated house atop a mountain road is evocative and claustrophic. I'm glad you mentioned 'Les Diaboliques' Carl, because that is the true influence...'Psycho' gave this type of film commercial impetus in the marketplace, but it is Clouzot's film which Jimmy Sangster pilfered from. Excellent review buddy!

  4. This was the last film in the Hammer set I picked up a few months ago. I went in with very little expectation, but I was completely surprised with the film. I held Diabolique in mind the entire time, it was almost impossible to separate the two. I have a William Castle box coming in shortly, so I can save all of the Psycho correlations for later lol..