Saturday, February 17, 2024

Scream of Fear, An Early Hammer Film

Ha!!!'re so smart.  You will have this one figured out in the first few minutes.  The twists are so easy to see coming.  Then...when they're still on top of things.  You'll see the other twists on their way. know nothing.  Today we look at an early Hammer film, 1961's "Scream of Fear," a Christopher Lee film directed by Seth Holt.

The lovely Penny (Susan Strasberg) returns to her dad's mansion after her trusty nurse drowns.  Penny is confined to a wheelchair after an equestrian accident 9 years ago.  With her best friend and nurse gone, her dad (Fred Johnson) asks her to come home.  The babe is met at the airport by the handsome chauffer, Robert (Ronald Lewis).  He tells her that her dad has gone away and her stepmother is going to meet her at the mansion.  Jane (Ann Todd) is the stepmom...and she claims the dad went away on business indefinitely. Uh oh...Penny begins seeing her dad's corpse.  She screams and Robert and Jane rush in only to find no corpse.  Dr. Gerard (Lee) arrives.  He lets Penny know that these emotional shocks may cause her to go completely insane in her delicate condition.

Oh!  Penny is the lone beneficiary of her dad's and inherits everything if he should die.  Jane only gets it if Penny is ruled "incapable" (insane).  The corpse keeps appearing.  Now Robert believes her and the two fall in love and look for the dead body.  Jane is up to something and Robert tells Penny more about the evil woman.  Meanwhile, Dr. Gerard appears all to eager to diagnose Penny as insane.  Alas, nothing is as it seems.  You have no idea.  Eventually, Jane and Robert will swap a lot of spit and then their amateur investigation turns up positive results.  

Ms. Strasberg is terrific as the nubile and beautiful invalid.  Mr. Lewis is quite the hunk.  Mr. Lee and Ms. Todd look very suspicious and play their roles well.  The final 15 minutes will be a rollercoaster ride and a half.  You'll figure out the twists up until then.  For a neat Hammer film that will have a shocking ending, see "Scream of Fear."    


  1. Great review of a great, unknown film. Even though it's not his biggest role, it's definitely a must-watch for Christopher Lee fans. There's also a French detective who was probably worthy of his own movie. IIRC, this film inspired a series of Hammer psychological thrillers.

    Not sure it counts as an early Hammer film, though - they'd been pumping them out for about 15 years by this point, lol.

  2. For me, Scream of Fear is the best of the Hammer psycho-thrillers that followed in the wake of Hitchcock's Psycho -- great cast, very atmospheric b&w photography, and, as you point out, a plot that plays cat-and-mouse with your expectations.