TASTE OF FEAR (1961) Movie Review – The Harrowing House of Hammer

When one gets acquainted with the charm of the Hammer Films brand, you will learn to routinely give a certain number of concessions that are often inherent in the company’s filmography. These characteristics may include, but are not limited to over-the-top acting, re-utilized or cheap-looking sets, and paper-thin storylines.

Of course, there are plenty of exceptions to these general rules and many that use the Hammer formula to brilliant effect, yet by and large, these obstacles to commonly seem to be par for the course. It’s an acquired taste.

So when it comes to pass that one stumbles upon a film such as Taste of Fear (aka Scream of Fear),  it comes as a bit of a shock.

Why you ask?

Because it is not often that Hammer delivers a film with characters who are genuinely likeable and interesting, suspense and mystery that excites, plot points and twists that still hit home, and an ambiance that recalls great filmmakers such as Alfred Hitchcock and Val Lewton.

But before sounding overly twitterpated with Taste of Fear, it would be difficult to claim that it’s an entirely flawless film. Some of the logistics behind the villains’ plot are questionable and it isn’t hard to guess who the unforeseen evil force is as the story progresses, but these are minor complaints.

Image courtesy of britsploitation.com

With a well-crafted whodunnit structure set against an oppressive noir backdrop with an engaging crescendo of tension leading to the climax of the tale, director Seth Holt delivers what is perhaps one of the finest, sturdiest Hammer productions released.

Maybe it can’t be technically termed as a “Hammer Horror” with its lack of gothic tones and supernatural elements, but Taste of Fear is a wonderful Hammer thriller/mystery story whose mood pervades through the screen and lingers around the viewer even after the brief running time has reached its end.

Rating: 4 out of 5

~ Stephen

Vía Letterboxd – The Paper Masque blog