Taste of Fear (Scream of Fear/Ein Toten spielt klavier, 1961)

German Sony Pictures DVD


Susan Strasberg as Penelope Appleby and Ann Todd as Jane


Text below written 2016-12-10


Yes, Christopher Lee can be seen in this film, but as a doctor in a smaller role and not as Dracula. I love horror films
but i have to confess .... warning for Hammer fans .... that i've never been that enthusiastic about their Dracula or other
horror films. Too British, too stiff and too lame and i much prefer the Spanish and Italian films in the genre.
Sure, i've seen some good Hammer films and this thriller certainly are among them, a very fine crime-thriller when Hammer
goes Hitchcock with fine actors, solid direction from Seth Holt, a nice script and atmospherical cinematography from
Douglas Slocombe. Lovely Susan Strasberg (1938-1999) is very good as the frightened Penny, and my God she's cute.
She was the daughter of the famous theatre man Lee Strasberg and i have never seen her in a film before as i remember
(but i could be wrong). The film is in glorious black & white and with a neat twist at the end.

Sweet Penelope

The film starts with some people talking in German. We're in a boat on some lake up in the alps somewhere, at least we're
supposed to believe that as there's some painted mountain backdrops at the back of the picture. A police is dragging and
hauls up a dead woman. Then we're in Nice on the french riviera and arriving from Switzerland is Penelope Appleby who's
tied to a wheelchair after a riding accident 9 years earlier. Penelope (Susan Strasberg) is visiting her father and stepmother
Jane (Ann Todd) in their grand villa at the sea. A father Penny hasn't seen for 10 years since the divorce between her parents.
But, her father has left mysteriously, supposedly on a trip, and Penny's alone with her stepmother, the often visiting local doctor
Gerrard (Christopher Lee) and the chauffeur Robert (Ronald Lewis). Penny's father is a rich man and Penny will inherit
everything, if not ....

Father

Ooops a spoiler, sorry ... but, Hey, did anyone really believe he was alive ?

Yes, we've seen it before, a rich old man, a stepmother and a fragile and nervously bent young woman that will inherit it all
when her father dies. But just how will she be worked upon ? We don't know for sure really and the Twist is coming and it
was well done. The piano playing without a pianist could've been lifted from 1948 "The Spiritualist"
(The Amazing Mr. X)
(and it's used as the German title) and i was expecting a Dorothy McGuire in The Spiral Staircase ending, but No, nope.
A Great nicely made and well acted thriller i've never ever heard about and i may've fallen in love with Susan Strasberg, an
actress i had never heard about before seing this film. She's fragile bound to her wheelchair, and she screams (see the cover)
but she's no scared rabbit, no hysteric and she has got some spunk to her that's likeable.

Maybe the other Hammer 1960's (non-Dracula) horror thrillers would be worth looking into? Especially Fanatic/Die! Die!
My Darling from 1964 directed by Silvio Narizzano and with legendary old Hollywood actress Tallulah Bankhead, Stefanie
Powers and Donald Sutherland sounds interesting and i must see that one.
anamorphic widescreen 1.66:1, english mono (or stereo?) audio with i.a. english and swedish subtitles, trailer, region 2

 



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