Taste of Fear (1961)

77m, 82m (UK – theatrical)
35mm film, black and white
mono (RCA Sound Recording), English

A British psychological horror film directed by Seth Holt. It was the first of Hammer Film Productions' series of psychological horror films made in the hope of emulating the success of Henri-Georges Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (1955) and Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

Plot Summary

Wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby visits her father in the South of France only to be told by her stepmother that he has unexpectedly left town on business. She later finds her father's body stashed in a summer-house, a body which then disappears leaving Penny and all around her to doubt her sanity. As more strange things happen to Penny, she turns to Bob the chauffeur for help – but is he really who he seems to be. And come to that, is Penny really who she seems?


* = uncredited

Directed by: Seth Holt
© MCMLXI [1961] by Falcon Films Limited
Columbia Pictures Corporation presents a Hammer Film production
Executive Producer: Michael Carreras
Produced by: Jimmy Sangster
Production Manager: Bill Hill
Written by: Jimmy Sangster
Assistant Director: David Tomblin
Continuity: Pamela Mann
Director of Photography: Douglas Slocombe
Camera Operator: Desmond Davis
Underwater Camera Operators: John Jordan, Egil S. Woxholt [both uncredited]
Supervising Editor: James Needs
Editor: Eric Boyd-Perkins
Music Composed by: Clifton Parker
Musical Supervisor: John Hollingsworth
Sound Recordists: Leslie Hammond, Teddy Mason, Len Shilton
Sound Editor: James Groom
Wardrobe Mistress: Dora Lloyd
Make-up Artist: Basil Newall
Hair Stylist: Eileen Bates
Production Designer: Bernard Robinson
Produced at Associated British Elstree Studios, England
Casting: Stuart Lyons

Susan Strasberg (Penny Appleby)
Ronald Lewis (Bob)
Ann Todd (Jane Appleby)
Christopher Lee (Dr Gerard)
John Serret (Inspector Legrand)
Leonard Sachs (Spratt)
Anne Blake (Marie)
Fred Johnson (Mr Appleby)
Bernard Browne [gendarme] *
Richard Klee, Heinz Bernard, Brian Jackson, Frederick Schrecker [plainclothes officers] *
Rodney Burke, Gordon Sterne [policemen] *
Madame Lobegue [Swiss air hostess] *
Frederick Rawlings [plainclothes sergeant] *

Alternative Titles

La casa del terrore – Italy
Hurler de peur – France
Krzyk strachu – Poland
Pelon tunne – Finland
El sabor del miedo – Spain
Scream of Fear – USA
Ein Toter spielt Klavier – Germany



  • The Daily Cinema no.8439 (29 March 1961) p.14 – review
  • Dark Terrors no.9 (November 1994) pp.18-21 – illustrated article
  • The House That Hammer Built no.3 (June 1997) pp.145-148 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Monthy Film Bulletin vol.28 no.328 (May 1961) p.63 – credits, symopsis, review
  • Kine Weekly no.2792 (6 April 1961) p.19 – review
  • Motion Picture Herald vol.224 no.7 (12 August 1961) p.236 – review
  • Variety 12 April 1961 – credits, review


  • The Aurum Film Encyclopedia: Horror by Phil Hardy (ed.) p.137
  • The Christopher Lee Filmography by Tom Johnson and Mark A. Miller pp.105-107
  • Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.202-203
  • English Gothic: A Century of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby pp.104, 109, 270
  • Euro Gothic: Classics of Continental Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby p.139
  • Feature Films, 1960-1969: A Filmography of English-language and Major Foreign-language United States Releases by Harris M. Lentz III p.401
  • The Films of Christopher Lee by Robert W. Pohle Jr and Douglas C. Hart pp.84-85
  • Good Versus Evil in the Films of Christopher Lee by Paul Leggett pp.41-47; 167
  • Hammer Complete: The Films, the Personnel, the Company by Howard Maxford pp.782-784 – illustrated credits, synopsis, review
  • Lord of Misrule (new edition) by Christopher Lee p.199
  • by Walt Lee p.422 – credits
  • Sixties Shockers by Mark Clark and Bryan Senn p.353
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.207-208