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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Scream of Fear! (Sony Choice Collection)

Scream of Fear is a Hammer picture from 1961 that features Christopher Lee in a non-Monster and truly non-horror picture. This is one of those times where I'd better classify a movie as a suspense picture or perhaps even a thriller. It's a somewhat rare B&W entry into the later Hammer canon, but the shooting angles, writing style and even attention to sensationalism are all preserved and pure Hammer. While it's a slow-go, it's definitely not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. Sony Choice Collection brings out a classic, under-appreciated film form the Hammer vaults.

The whole thing unfolds like this. Wheelchair-bound girl goes to visit her dad, but alas, he's away on business. Instead she has to visit with her stepmother. Well, an unexpected visitor shows up... the corpse of her dead father. He appears to our protagonist on several occasions leading us to believe that he may in fact be dead, but is he truly haunting her or is there something else surrounding the mysterious appearance of his less than lively being?

You've seen this movie before, but in 1961 this sort of afflicted Nancy Drew story was not yet common place, and so in watching it please take that into consideration. Focus on the camera angles and shot choices as well as classic Hammer makeup for the corpse-dad. All shots seem to be up close three quarter profile pics of our characters with action in the background. It's intimidating at first, but combined with the semi-Dracula lighting you start to feel a genuine sense of fear or dread or at least as much of either of those things as a movie called Scream of Fear can allow you to feel.

Chris Lee may not play a huge role, but it's nice to see him outside his comfort zone (or at least outside of of his comfort zone for 1961). His performance is brief but classic. Part of me wants to compare this Horror Hotel only Horror Hotel is a bit more sinister, campy and demands a lot more of Lee.


This is another bare bones release from Sony Choice Collection (and DVD-R). The cover art is the classic poster with Sony Choice Collection border.

Scream of Fear is available now.


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