Hammer didn’t just make horror movies, they made several other genres but most took a backseat once Hammer found success with the horror genre. They also found success with suspense thrillers which will be the focus on 31 Days of Hammer this week.
Writer Jimmy Sangster started off as a production manager for Hammer back in the 1950s. He got into writing when Hammer asked him to write X The Unknown. From there he wrote most of their Frankenstein and Dracula movies. With the success of Hitchcock’s Psycho there was a demand for more psychological thrillers and Sangster was happy to oblige.
Taste of Fear aka Scream of Fear in North America stars Susan Strasberg as a wheelchair bound woman, Penny, who has returned home to at her father’s request. Upon arriving she finds that her father is away but is expected to be back in a couple of days and only her step-mother Jane (Ann Todd) is there to greet her. Jane seems nice as does the chauffeur Robert (Ronald Lewis) but Penny is puzzled that her father has gone after telling her to come home.
The first night Penny hears a noise and goes out to the guest house and discovers her father’s dead body. She panics and falls into a dark pool of water. She awakens to find everyone is concerned about her but is confused about what she claims to see. It seems that there’s nothing in the guest house. Later she finds the body in her room but when she gets someone to see the body, it’s gone again. The good Doctor Gerrard (Christopher Lee) implies that she might be going mad. Chauffeur Robert seems to think that maybe Jane and Dr. Gerrard murdered Penny’s father and are trying to drive her mad so she get institutionalized and then Jane will get all the money. The two start working together trying to find her father’s body.
This is pretty good thriller with a pretty good twist at the end. The success of this film prompted Hammer to make several more thrillers that were written by Jimmy Sangster. Three of them came out in 1962 which made up most of Hammer’s output for that year.