This is the second surprise Black and White hammer film of recent reviews and it is an utter gem. Initially seeming odd in its monochrome approach one wonders whether an addition of colour could have added to the production. Given its heavy use of shadows however I am not sure that it would have worked.
At first seeming to be a rather cut and dried pedestrian fare the initial conclusion that the expected storyline is exactly what is happening is heavily fostered setting the viewer up for an excellent (if not entirely unexpected) twist.
Penny Appleby goes to live with her Father and Stepmother after the death of her closest friend in a drowning incident (shown at the start of the film). Penny is confined to a wheelchair after a horseriding accident, her Father isn't present and things seem subtly wrong with the village doctor (ably played by Christopher Lee, with a slightly odd French accent) and Pennys stepmother acting oddly. When Penny starts to see her fathers body throughout the house it is obvious that she is being played with. She is wonderfully played as both very strong and yet vulnerable. However the film, after letting you think this for nearly an hour, suddenly twists so violently that you get whiplash. Then it twists again.
The film is as effective in this as Hitchcocks Psycho is in removing the leading female halfway through. It makes this film intriguing.
There ARE inconsistencies and peoples acts don’t quite holdup to scrutiny once the true plot is shown however this is minor as the film is spookily well produced to hide this.
Overall Scream of Fear was a real surprise to me. An iconic 60’s thriller that really seems to be little known. Seek this one out.
PS. Susan Strasberg is bloody gorgeous as Penny!
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